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July 28, 2018 - 10:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Teen Academy, news, byron-bergen, Sheriff's Office.

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Luke Rindell is congratulated by Deputy Matthew Butler, middle, and Sheriff William Sheron during the graduation Friday of the first class to complete the new Teen Academy in law enforcement presented by the Sheriff's Office at Byron-Bergen High School.

Rindell was the only student in the 14-member class to score 100 on his final exam.

Below, a press release from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office about the academy:

“I am pleased to announce that the First Teen Academy was an extreme success," Sheriff William Sheron said. "The students were provided with the opportunity to experience the various roles of law enforcement in our community, and they eagerly embraced all aspects of the curriculum.

"I want to thank the students for their hard work and dedication and to all those that provided instruction throughout this weeklong program. A special thank you to the Academy Director, Deputy Matthew R. Butler, and deputies Chad P. Cummings and Deborah L. Snyder for their assistance and efforts in coordinating such a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for the students.

"We look forward to hosting the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Teen Academy on an annual basis for students throughout Genesee County."

The following participants are graduates of the First Annual Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Teen Academy:

  • Class captains -- Brandon Kowalski, Devon Reigle and Morgan Rhodes;
  • Zachary Babcock;
  • Cameron Buck;
  • Shaina Dejesus;
  • Bailey Faucett;
  • Ethan Pocock;
  • Luke Rindell;
  • Noah Toal;
  • Shawn Turner;
  • Gianni Vallese;
  • Alessandra Wolf;
  • Jayson Yauchzee.

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Previously: There's no slack in training for first group of students going through law enforcement Teen Academy

July 26, 2018 - 5:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Teen Academy, Sheriff's Office, news, notify, byron-bergen.

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Deputies are cramming a lot of police training into one week for the first Teen Academy hosted at Byron-Bergen High School by the Sheriff's Office.

In this one week, said Deputy Matthew Butler, the 14 students enrolled are covering the same material a cadet at a standard police academy must grasp in five-and-a-half months.

"I don’t want any student to come away and say 'that was nothing, it wasn’t tough,' or 'it was too easy, I didn’t get anything out of it,' " Butler said. "That’s why we’re trying to throw a lot of stuff at them so they get the most from the experience and see what it’s really like."

Each day, at 8 a.m., starts with physical training or PT, and students take turns leading PT. Police officers all need to have leadership skills and be able to communicate effectively and PT and marching in formation are a chance to practice.

Instruction from there includes classroom lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on practice.

Deputy Chris Erion has been out with K-9 "Destro"; Sgt. Jason Saile presented a crash management demonstration; there are tours of the jail and communications; and a chance to see how the scuba team and Emergency Response Team work.

Instruction includes defensive tactics, penal law, vehicle and traffic law, and crime scene investigation and evidence recovery.

Patricia Reeves led a DWI victim impact panel.

There is homework every night and a test tomorrow followed by graduation at 1 p.m.

“We’re giving them a real taste of what it’s like to be a police officer and what you have to go through in the academy to become a police officer," Butler said.

The Teen Academy was pitched to Sheriff William Sheron by Butler, who is the school resource officer at Byron-Bergen, after he had seen something similiar in Monroe County. This is the first teen academy in Genesee County.

The training is no-nonsense. Tuesday, during traffic stop training followed by felony stop training, deputies Ryan DeLong, Andrew Mullen, and Chad Cummings were quick to stop, correct, and lecture in a tone that didn't permit embarrassment but understood that is a lot to master even in a simple traffic stop.

Proper procedures, situational awareness, emotional intelligence, and observation are all critical in a traffic stop, which is both the most routine task in law enforcement and the one daily task most fraught with risk, both to officers and civilians. A good officer never grows complacent.

DeLong, Mullen, and Cummings demanded the attention of the students, and attention to detail, from how they approached the car, to where they stood while talking with the driver, which hand they used to grab and hold paperwork, and how they safely walked back to the patrol vehicle.

With the basics understood, the students who role-played as drivers and passengers could improvise their responses to the cadets, from denying wrongdoing to revealing they were licensed handgun permit holders and were carrying a weapon. Responses were critiqued and corrected.

On two consecutive "stops," the "deputy" didn't notice the passenger holding a handgun in his lap.

Mullen emphasized, when approaching a vehicle, you've got to see everything going on inside the vehicle. The weapon could easily be viewed even before an officer would reach the driver-side door. At that point, Mullen said, you fall back and radio for backup.

DeLong, Mullen, and Cummings then simulated a felony traffic stop, with Cummings assuming the role of the criminal suspect, and then the students took their turns at practicing the procedure.

Many of the students participating do anticipate a career in law enforcement, so that's why they signed up for the academy.

"I really want to go into law enforcement," said Morgan Rhodes, a senior at Notre Dame HS. "It interests me a lot. I’ve always wanted to do it and this is really helping me figure it out."

She's interested in solving mysteries, she said, "making it right" after a crime has been committed, and ensuring people follow the law.

She thinks she will start her law enforcement career in the military but hopes to become a deputy some day.

Devyn Reigle, who has been taking Criminal Justice courses at BOCES, is also considering starting his law enforcement career in the military. The academy, he said, was a chance to get a more hands-on grasp than his college class on what being a cop is all about.

"I've learned a lot more," Reigle said. "I've learned what to be aware of, that it's a lot more serious than you think, and to keep your eyes focused on everything."

Top photo: Deputy Chad Cummings in the role of suspect during a felony stop demonstration.

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Deputy Andrew Mullen with simulated pistol drawn while conducting a felony stop demonstration.

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Deputy Ryan DeLong during the felony stop demonstration.

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Deputy Ryan DeLong cuffing Deputy Chad Cummings.

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Gianni Vallese, a Byron-Bergen student, practicing a felony stop.

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Devyn Reigle taking Deputy Chad Cummings into custody.

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Deputy Ryan DeLong providing instructions on procedures for a traffic stop.

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Gianni Vallese conducting a traffic stop while Deputy Ryan DeLong observes.

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Devyn Reigle accepting paperwork from a driver during a practice traffic stop.

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Morgan Rhodes conducting a traffic stop.

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The inaugural class and some of the instructors of the Sheriff's Teen Academy at Byron-Bergen High School.

After the jump, more pictures of training submitted by Deputy Deb Snyder and Deputy Chad Cummings.

July 5, 2018 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, education, news, byron-bergen, bergen.

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Press release: 

As Genesee Community College's 50th graduating class crammed for finals, one student worked harder, practiced longer, collaborated more, and without realizing it she embodied the College's "Beyond Expectations" brand with quiet dignity and integrity seldom seen.

Lifelong Bergen resident, Lauren E. Stumpf was born in 1994 with cerebral palsy, and has relied on a wheelchair for mobility for most of her life. But this challenge never much slowed Lauren down, nor dampened her spirited disposition.

With hard work and dedication, she has enjoyed great success. She graduated from Byron-Bergen Schools in 2012 and months later enrolled at GCC with plans to earn a degree in Human Services.

Lauren's determination has always been a mark of her character and integrity, first by proving her doctors wrong by far exceeding their projected life expectancy of just five years. Then at GCC she excelled in her coursework and quickly made friends across campus.

Several months before graduation, Lauren decided she wanted to make the ceremony even more special by surprising her family and friends with another significant accomplishment -- walking across the Commencement stage to accept her degree.

To that end, Lauren began doing exercises to strengthen her muscles, and she contacted her friends who were enrolled in GCC's Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program. Together, with guidance from their professors, they helped Lauren by monitoring her progress, educating her about proper posture and exertion levels to ensure she rested appropriately and did not injure herself.

As Lauren proudly walked across the stage, the crowd cheered, applauded and many people jumped to their feet with enthusiasm and support. She shook hands with keynote speaker Kristina Johnson, Ed.D., the new SUNY Chancellor, whose speech included a message about optimism and rising to her own challenge of being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Lauren's determination inspired the GCC's admissions office to capture her story in a short video that would illustrate her resolve. It also will inspire others to meet their challenges head-on and realize the many resources available to help make their dreams a reality.

Lauren's story is proof that good news travels fast and far. After posting Lauren's story on the College's social media channels, there were more than 4,500 views in just one week. This included a message from Buffalo State College who is looking forward to having her on their campus this fall, as she begins her next challenge.

Lauren will be enrolled in Buffalo State's Special Education program, in part, as a tribute to her close friend who also enrolled in the program but sadly passed away before she graduated.

"After Buffalo State, I want to get a job as a special education teacher and possibly go back to GCC as a professor for the Developmental Disabilities class," Lauren said.

And to that GCC remarks, "Bring it on! We can't wait to see you."

Photo by Howard Owens.

June 26, 2018 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, byron, bergen, sports, schools, education.

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Press release:

Alumni of Byron-Bergen schools might remember seeing high school runners carrying the Jr. Olympic torch through the streets of the two communities back in the 1970s. The custom began in 1976 to signal the start of the Elementary School’s Jr. Olympics Day celebration, but fell out of practice over the years. The tradition was back again on the evening of June 12, as a relay team of varsity runners from Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School, escorted by town fire engines, traveled a route around the towns of Byron and Bergen.

This was the third year for the new town run, which was organized by Varsity Track Coach Ken Rogoyski and elementary school teacher Alyson Tardy. This year’s runners, Jerome Spinks, Dayanra Caballero, Siomara Caballero, Anna Hersom, Hope Hersom Miriam Tardy, Josh Tardy, Paul McDermott and Travis Lambert, were cheered on by neighbors as each took a turn carrying the torch.

The next day, the traveling torch made another appearance at the opening of Jr. Olympics Day at the elementary school. Students there had been busy studying the cultures of many different countries. Each class represented their chosen country in a parade, and then in a day full of track and field competitions.

“The Jr. Olympics Torch Run is a fun way to connect with our community and a good way to get the younger kids excited about participating in the next day’s ceremonies,” Tardy said. “We’d really like to thank the folks at the fire departments for their support. We hope that even more people will take a moment to come out, have fun, and enjoy the show again next year.”

Top photo: Runner Anna Hersom carries the Jr. Olympic torch in Bergen as neighbors look on.

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Team Ireland celebrates at the Byron-Bergen Elementary School Jr. Olympics on June 13.

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Proud Bees after the 2018 Jr. Olympic Torch Run, (l-r) Jerome Spinks, Dayanra Caballero, Siomara Caballero, Anna Hersom, Hope Hersom Miriam Tardy, Josh Tardy, Paul McDermott and Travis Lambert with driver from the Bergen Fire Department.

June 23, 2018 - 10:09pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in byron-bergen, byron, bergen, schools, education, news.

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Seniors in Byron-Bergen’s 2018 graduating class were urged to “set out and make a difference” by Junior-Senior High School Principal Patrick McGee, as he addressed the class at graduation ceremonies Saturday.

The class of 80 received their diplomas at Roberts Wesleyan College’s Cultural Life Center in North Chili.

McGee commended school staff in helping the kids, who he called “an amazing group of young people.”

In urging them to make a difference, he cited a young boy named Pete whose only ambition was to be a bagger in the local grocery store. Pete wrote a personal note and put it in each customer’s bag. Business at the store soared and all the customers lined up at Pete’s station, causing long waits, but they all said it was because Pete’s notes made their day.

“He became part of the life of every person in his community, because of one simple act,” McGee said. “And it had to do with putting others first.”

McGee said today Pete is a very successful motivational speaker.

Superintendent Mickey Edwards challenged the class to set goals for themselves.

“Life is not always fair, and sometimes failure is inevitable,” but keep moving forward, whatever you do,” Edwards said. “I know each one of you has the potential to change the world.”

Finally, he urged the class to laugh often and be responsible citizens.

Salutatorian Margaret Graney said she thought the class was all pretty great.

“We’ve had an opportunity to grow up together as friends,” she said. “Always remember something good about Byron-Bergen – the fun you’ve had and the mistakes you’ve made.”

She said Byron-Bergen had taught them a lot – maybe not all in the classroom.

“It taught us how to think – not what to think,” she said. “It taught us how to take on the bigger world. Like a fish only grows as large as its tank will allow it to, Byron-Bergen has been our fish tank. Now it’s time to move on to bigger things.”

Valedictorian Lauren Burke praised all the great teachers, from kindergarten through her senior year.

She recalled her first school musical in second grade and the recent senior class musical. She shared the sports championships the classes had won during her school years and this year’s talent show.

There was the senior class trip this year to Cleveland and New York's Cedar Point State Park, located in the Thousand Islands' region.

“We’ve come a long way,” Lauren said. “We’ve gone from nervous kindergartners to star athletes and accomplished musicians. This class has taught us lessons we will use throughout the rest of our lives. None of our achievements would have been possible without the support of the community, our parents and teachers. Our success is your success.”

She concluded with a quote from "Mahatma Ghandi," born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you will live forever.”

Special scholarship awards were presented by McGee, school counselor Matt Walther and Assistant Principal Scott Bradley to the following:

Alfred K. Sheldon Memorial Leadership Award, Joshua Phelps; American Field Service Foreign Language Award, Lauren Burke; American Red Cross Scholarship, Morgan Fuller; Arthur Rohe U.S. History Scholarship, Lauren Burke; Bergen Grange Award, Ethan Green and Peyton Mackey; Bergen Rod and Gun Club Award, Justin Hannan and Morgan Fuller; Bergen Volunteer Fire Co. Student Volunteer Scholarship, Melanie Kulikowski; Brad A. Hobin Memorial Award, Paul McDermott Jr. and Michael Khomitch; Byron Kiwanis Club Award, Nicole Welka, Cameron Brumsted and James Boughton; Byron-Bergen Administration Scholarship, Quinn Chapell; Byron-Bergen Faculty Association Award, Justin Hannan; Byron-Bergen Learning Community Award, Jean Denson and Leah Thompson; and Byron-Bergen Student Council Scholarship, Benjamin Chaback.

Also, Claus Memorial Award, Lauren Burke and Margaret Graney; Clint Cooper Memorial Scholarship, Brian Ireland; Derek K. Sheldon Memorial Scholarship, Daniel Stutzman; Dora M. Jones Scholarship, Hayley Hoehn; Earl Almquist Family Art Award, Austin Sharpe; Francis J. and Ethel A. Miller Memorial Scholarship, Tyler Henry and Larissa Ashton; Gillam Educational Fund Scholarship, Dana Van Valkenburg; H.E. Turner and Co. Funeral Homes Community Service Award, Lauren Burke; Helene Forsyth-Hough Memorial Scholarship, Nathan Knickerbocker; Hesperus Lodge No. 837 F.&A.M., Julia Menzie; Ida Casewell MacEwen Award, Austin Sharpe; Jerome G. Spitzner Memorial Science Award, Benjamin Chaback; Leo J. O’Neill Memorial Scholarship, Benjamin Chaback.

And, Lori A. Nelson Award, Brendon Kendall; Mary Wride Memorial Attendance Award, Tyler Henry; Paul West Scholarship,Peyton Mackey; Ralph and Minna Gillette Scholarship, Jean Denson and Daniel Jensen; Reis Memorial Scholarship, Makenzie Muoio; Sackett-Merrill-White Post 575 American Legion Scholarship, Shaun LoVerdi; Sarah Batemen Memorial Scholarship, Nicole Welka; Sunshine Award, Hayley Hoehn; Tom Covington Memorial Agricultural Scholarship, Garrett Sando; TVFCU Junior Banking Scholarship, Leah Thompson and Melanie Kulikowski; and the William F. Engle Scholarship, Riley Sadler.

The graduating seniors with the 10 highest academic averages are Lauren Burke, Margaret Graney, Benjamin Chaback, Larissa Ashton, Lily Mercovich, Dana VanValkenburg, Tyler Henry, Jean Denson, Brian Ireland and Leah Thompson.

Class officers are Hayley Hoehn, president; Makenzie Muoio, vice president; Justin Hannan, secretary; and Lauren Burke, treasurer.

The High School Band, under the director of Kevin Bleiler, accompanied the graduates for the processional and recessional and in singing the National Anthem. Laurence Tallman is director of the school’s Singing Silhouettes.

Top photo: Byron-Bergen’s Class of 2018 stands with Principal Patrick McGee, left, and members of the Singing Silhouettes as they sing the National Anthem prior to graduation ceremonies Saturday at Roberts Wesleyan College’s Cultural Life Center in North Chili. Photos by Virginia Kropf.

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Byron-Bergen High School’s valedictorian Lauren Burke addresses her class during graduation ceremonies Saturday at Roberts Wesleyan College’s Cultural Life Center.

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Lauren Burke, from a slideshow that presented students as seniors and with a childhood picture.

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Salutatorian Margaret Graney gives her address during Byron-Bergen’s graduation Saturday at Roberts Wesleyan College’s Cultural Life Center.

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Seniors Lauren Burke and Margaret Graney were presented with the Claus Memorial Award in memory Christopher Claus (Class of 2015) and Victoria Claus (Class of 2018) at Byron-Bergen’s graduation ceremonies Saturday.

June 22, 2018 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, byron-bergen, news, byron, bergen.

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Press release:

On June 19, the Byron-Bergen learning community and the community-at-large were treated to a special stage adaptation of “Sneaky Weasel,” a children’s book by author Hannah Shaw, performed by fourth-graders.

The show featured the talents of the entire class working together as actors, assistant directors, narrators, dancers, stage crew and scenery designers, sound effects artists, and costume designers. The story centered on an unhappy bully, Sneaky Weasel, who finally discovers how to be a friend.

“Our students have been working on the project for several weeks,” said fourth-grade teacher Alyson Tardy, who along with teachers Jenna Carney and Kelly Morriss, wrote the stage play and directed the performance. “They have each contributed their best efforts.

"It’s been really great seeing students find talents they didn’t know they had, kids stepping up to help each other, and quiet children coming out of their shells to get onstage in front of an audience. The arts are so important for development and this has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to really stretch themselves and shine.”

Top photo: “Sneaky Weasel” featured players (l-r) Grace DiQuattro, Joel Lamb, Simone Scharvogel (as Sneaky), Megan Jarkeiwicz, and Katherine Rogoyski.

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Mama Weasel (Gianna Graff) with all her weasel-y offspring (Madisyn Rodak, Logan Czachorowski, Madison Hutchings, Sidney Maher, and Connor Copani.)

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The cast included narrators plus singing and dancing hedgehogs, rabbits, sheep, rats, mice, shrews, dogs, and even a chicken.

June 13, 2018 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, news, FFA, agriculture.

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Press release:

On May 29, Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School held their first Future Farmers of America Awards ceremony since restarting an agriculture program after an absence of almost 50 years.

The presentation honored student members and their supportive FFA parents. Certificates of Appreciation were given to many community advisors and volunteers, and district personnel.

The FFA chapter’s student officers were recognized as a cohesive leadership team who have driven the growth of the new chapter: Garrett Sando (president), Cole Carlson (vice-president), Hallie Calhoun, Isabelle Stevens, Andrew Parnapy and Seth Sharp.

Greenhand FFA degrees, for senior high school students, were given to Jacey Donahue and all six FFA officers. Garrett Sando was named the Star Greenhand for 2018. Discovery FFA degrees for Jr. High School students were given to Caleb Carlson, Madelynn Pimm, and Rachel Best. Four students received Proficiency Awards: Cole Carlson (Beef Showmanship), Sando (Employment Interview), Parnapy (Creed Speaking), and Sharp (Agricultural Sales).

The ceremony marked the end of the beginning for the Byron-Bergen agriculture program and FFA chapter. It has been an amazing year for both, with about 15 students getting involved in the hands-on approach to learning offered in the new Introduction to Agriculture Science class, along with the Living Environment class.

Students marveled at the opportunity to learn about agriculture as a science course, and to be able to explore it even more deeply through FFA.

“Students are really excited and proud to participate in FFA,” said Byron-Bergen’s Cornell Ag-certified teacher Jeff Parnapy. “They love the teamwork and leadership activities involved.

"Our kids have stepped up and taken responsibility for making the decisions and doing the work necessary for the chapter to be successful, to raise funds, and to take part in the community.

"Our group attended the recent NYS FFA Convention in Rochester and got to meet students from around the state. We’re planning to participate at the State Fair and the Genesee County Fair later this summer.”

Parnapy says the chapter will begin active competition in statewide FFA contests this fall, and take part in more state and FFA District 9 events and trips next year.

He says FFA is undergoing a renaissance, with several local school districts starting new chapters. He also credits the school’s Advisory Committee — local volunteer farmers and animal science experts — for their help and guidance.

Parnapy will be attending professional development sessions in Animal Science this summer, with the hope of offering it as an additional class in the 2019-20 school year.

"We had a great first year bringing back Ag Education and FFA for the first time in so many years,” said Jr./Sr. High School Principal Patrick McGee.

“Kudos to Mr. Parnapy and our kids for getting this back off the ground. We truly believe that this program is going to continue to grow and be a viable part of the Jr./Sr. High School."

FFA is a national organization that makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. www.ffa.org

Top photo: Byron-Bergen’s FFA members at May’s NYS FFA Convention in Rochester. (l-r) Garrett Sando, Jacey Donahue, Isabelle Stevens, Rachel Best, Madelynn Pimm and Hallie Calhoun.

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FFA President Garrett Sando (right) with advisor and Ag teacher, Jeff Parnapy.

May 19, 2018 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, byron-bergen, schools, education, news, business.

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The Western New York Tech Academy, at Byron-Bergen High School, hosted its first mentor's breakfast Friday morning and handed out three significant awards for the first time.

Isaac Ladley, a junior in the program, received the first-ever Professional of the Year award. Pictured with Ladley are faculty members Miranda Wharram-Santillo, Thomas Schulte (principal), Mariah LaSpina, Kathryn Beaumont, and Sean Madden.

The breakfast was followed by a business fair and mock employment interviews.

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Liberty Pumps was selected as Business Partner of the Year. Pictured are Jeff Cook, David Williams, Robyn Brookhart, Dennis Burke, and Thomas Schulte.

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The Mentor of the Year is Gina Lathan. Pictured with Lathan, a student she mentored, Rebecca Haniscewski, and Thomas Schulte.

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May 16, 2018 - 1:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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Ruger Starowitz for his science fair project at Byron-Bergen Elementary School made maple syrup. His father said he had ot use hand tools just like his grandfather would have done.

The science fair and an art show were part of an open house at the school last night. The student art show featured a unique black light art display.

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May 14, 2018 - 7:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

The Batavian emailed candidate questions to all 17 candidates in Genesee County's eight school districts that are holding elections on Tuesday. Only four returned completed questionnaires. 

This is the response from Amy Mathisen, a candidate in the Byron-Bergen Central School District. Neither of the other two candidates, Deb List or Bill Forsyth, responded.

1. What is your position on your school district’s proposed budget for 2018-19? What parts do you support? What parts would you change if you could?

I support Byron Bergen's budget. I would change the constant decrease in aid for schools. Unfortunately, there are some variables that can not be changed, such as retirement, and teaching salaries. I was not involved in determining the budget, as I did not attend the meetings they had, mostly because I did not know they were occurring.

2. Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

That is a loaded question and I an split on this topic. I think there are some that are under-compensated and others that are over-compensated. In my opinion there needs to be a way to determine an effective teacher, through confidential peer reviews, student reviews, and teacher reviews. I always reviewd my kids teachers thru elementary school by sending a letter to the superintendent. I do encourage other parents to do the same, not just in the bad years, but on the good years as well.

3. Parents are more nervous than ever about school safety. Is your district’s communication to parents about school safety policies and procedures adequate? Should parents and the community be informed when a student makes a threat of violence against the school?

Yes, I feel our school is safe. As far violent threats by a student there is a fine line there. I would hope our board would be notified and they would handle the situation appropriately. 

4. Are you satisfied that your district responds to parents’ complaints and concerns in a way that ensures the parents know they have been heard?

Personally, yes I am satisfied with how complaints are handled at the district level. The superintendent is always very receptive to feedback and the board members I have brought issues to have taken steps to make changes, based on the complaints.

5. What two books published since The Enlightenment have influenced you the most?

I really am not a book reader. I am a here and now person; however, I am a quote girl and love Albert Einstein.

April 28, 2018 - 10:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, arts, education, news.

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Morgan Fuller, a senior at Byron-Bergen High School, was among the dozens of students at the school last night who showcased their artistic and musical talent in the school's annual "Buzzin Bistro," a celebration of the arts.

Besides the art show, vocal and music students performed in the cafeteria to a packed house, including songs such as the B-52s' "Love Shack" and the Guys and Dolls/Frank Sinatra hit "Luck Be A Lady."

As for Fuller, as much as she loves art, especially drawing either with graphite or charcoal on black paper, she is thinking of pursuing a career in photojournalism.

"I still like drawing but I don't know if I'll do it that much professionally because, you know, moneywise, and stuff like that, but I'll always do it as a hobby," she said.

She doesn't go much for abstract art. She likes realism but she likes pictures that tell a story and can get a reaction from people rather than just a depiction of a realistic subject.

"I like pictures that are very awkward," She said. "The fish one is my favorite because it’s so awkward and it makes people feel uncomfortable. I also like the mysterious look of black and white and graphite."

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April 26, 2018 - 11:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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A group of students in the WNY Tech Academy at Byron-Bergen High School can now be called entrepreneurs.

They've researched a business idea, wrote a business plan, built financial projections and stepped into their own version of the Shark Tank and walked out with a guaranteed $125,000 in financing for their planned business.

The business, Academy Greens, will grow spinach and tilapia in a greenhouse on the Byron-Bergen campus that will be equipped with an aquaponics system.

They will sell the spinach to the cafeteria at Byron-Bergen and to the culinary arts program at BOCES. 

"There is an unlimited opportunity for success and there is so much to learn within the business itself," said student Kyle Goloskey. "I'm excited about the project because we’re able to provide food for local schools and it’s organic so it’s a clean project we don’t have to worry about contamination."

The students haven't quite figured out what to do with the tilapia yet, and under questioning from the "sharks" during their hour-long pitch, acknowleged that they didn't account for the preparation costs associated with selling fish.

The "sharks" were: Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde, who was asked to represent the vegetable-processing company Bonduelle, which has a plant in Oakfield, for the purpose of the pitch review; and Paul Gister, manager of customer and community management at National Grid; Michael Gardinier, VP of operations at Farm Fresh First; and Thomas Schulte, principal of the WNY Tech Academy.

Hyde said Bonduelle will make an in-kind contribution of coaching and food-processing expertise to assist the students with their startup. Gister and Gardinier said they will take back recommendations for funding to their bosses and board of directors.

At the end of the presentation, Schulte announced that the budget for the WNY Tech Academy, which is funded through grants, has been rewritten for next year to make $125,000 available for the project. Any financial contribution from National Grid or Farm Fresh will backfill the WNY Tech contribution.

Hyde said he found the whole project exciting.

"Food is such a heartland for us," Hyde said. "We've got three industrial parks across the county that are being developed around food. On the entrepreneurial side, that is such a critical piece. We have the Med-Tech Center and the entrepreneurial zone for startups. That is an accelerator for businesses. Things like this help plant the seeds that spark things."

He praised the project-based learning experience.

Gardinier said the project is going to give the students a real hands-on experience in the world and in business that will benefit them when they start their careers. It is a bridge for them to connect their class work to the work environment.

And starting and running a business isn't easy, so the students will learn from the mistakes they make and the challenges they encounter.

"I fully expect them to hit problems," Gardinier said. "It’s important they get their network built around them. They’ve got some very key players with them now that have offered time and offered expertise to the project to help them get over those hurdles, so build your network and use it."

Noah Toal, 11th grade, said he likes the project because he gets to learn how businesses start and the sharks who asked challenging questions gave him an idea of what it takes to put a business together.

He plans to enter into accounting but might want to own his own business someday.

"I might think about starting my own business once I get out there more and start getting cash flow in, and I get more understanding of how this world goes," Noah said. 

The primary goal of the project, Schulte said, is to provide a learning experience and bring together the three disciplines of the tech academy -- food-processing technology, supply chain management, and accounting -- into a single effort.

"From very early on we tried to talk about ourselves as a startup company and how important for every person on our team, staff, students, to play a role in making it become what the vision of it was from the very beginning," Schulte said. "I think the greenhouse is just going to be another example of -- to make it work, we’ve got to work to make it work."

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April 2, 2018 - 10:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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Press release:

Since winning the statewide Be the Change for Kids Innovation Award in 2016, Byron-Bergen Elementary School’s Inquiry-Based Learning Lab has been busy growing, and increasing opportunities for students. The award is given by the New York State School Boards Association.

The Learning Lab, which focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) activities, has moved from special interest class to an integral part of the K-6 curriculum at the school.

“The NYSSBA award of $5,000 helped us jumpstart the Learning Lab,” said Principal Brian Meister. “We were able to fully commit to the project-based learning program, purchase our first robotics and other materials, and offer the class to all of our students.”

“The Lab is very student-driven,” Meister said. “Our young people are thoroughly and deeply engaged in learning; we are finding that the curriculum is evolving based on student ideas.”

In September 2017, the district was awarded $85,000 in educational funding with the help of State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer. The funding will be used to further develop the Lab into a cutting-edge center for STEAM, and to explore expanding the program to the Jr./Sr. High School.

Learning Lab teacher Craig Schroth is excited about the enthusiasm students have shown for the program. He can usually be found in the classroom, working with inquiring minds — helping fourth-graders learn block programming with Dash™ robots, or guiding sixth-graders in using a CAD program and LEGOs™ to design and build model wind turbines.

Schroth said: “All of our students, boys and girls, kindergarten through sixth grade, have the same level of excitement about the projects,” “Our little ones begin by learning basic math and science, logic, and collaboration skills with simple tools, like Bee-Bots®.

"Older students quickly progress to more involved projects like designing video games, satellites, or energy efficiency systems. They use teamwork, design trials, geometry, environmental science, and programming in JavaScript. Recent additions, like our 3D printers, are opening new avenues of exploration.

“We are excited about the new resources we have been able to secure thanks to the new grant. In the first year of this program, we used materials like cereal boxes, popsicle sticks, and tape. Now, students are able to create more sophisticated prototypes.”

“My favorite part of the class, however, is that the focus remains on facilitating ‘design thinking’ that is not device specific. The most important resource for us lies in student ideas and creativity.”

As students use the engineering design process of data gathering and collaboration to continually improve their results, they learn lifelong problem-solving skills that will help them in whatever fields they may find themselves.

“They learn how to work together, how to think creatively and embrace change, how to trial-and-fail until they find solutions,” Meister said.

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March 30, 2018 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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Press release:

The Byron-Bergen chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) welcomed 14 new student members to their distinguished company on March 28. The ceremony also honored the three latest inductees to the Byron-Bergen Alumni Hall of Fame: Jacqueline Mullen (1972), Michael List (1978), and Kimberly (Thompson) McLean (2000).

The event began with music from the school’s vocal group, the Singing Silhouettes; welcome and congratulations from District Superintendent Mickey Edwards and Principal Patrick McGee; then short addresses from all three alumni.

McLean, currently an award-winning math teacher, class advisor, and coach at Spencerport High School, challenged students to work hard and go places. She referenced the famous Dr. Seuss quote, “The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Former BBCSD Director of Facilities and active community member List spoke of the importance of family and faith, and the support students will find in them as they face hard times through their lives. He recently received certification as a Biblical Counselor and has four children and several grandchildren.

“Byron-Bergen was a very special place for me,” Mullen said. “I’m proud to say that it continues to offer wonderful opportunities and very special teachers, that you, too, will remember all your lives.”

Mullen has lived and worked in Puerto Rico for more than 39 years. She currently serves as vice chancellor of sponsored research and programs for Universidad del Turabo.

All of the honored alumni serve as inspirational role models to the youth of Byron-Bergen and epitomize the purpose of the Alumni Hall of Fame.

The traditional National Honor Society candle-lighting ceremony followed. It acknowledges the high standards students in NHS must exhibit in knowledge, character, leadership, service and scholarship and was performed by NHS Vice President Lauren Burke and Member Brendon Kendall.

New members were introduced by Lauren Burke, Jean Denson and Margaret Graney. They took the NHS pledge and were presented with their honor cords and certificates.

The celebration concluded with final words from NHS President Ben Chaback, and the Byron-Bergen Alma Mater, sung by the Singing Silhouettes with help from an enthusiastic audience.

2018 Inductees to the Byron-Bergen National Honor Society are: Justine Bloom, Alexander Brumsted, Siomara Caballero, Alexander Dean, Sara Fraser, Leah Gale, Cambria Kinkelaar, Jillian Menzie, MacKenzie Rosse, Chloe Shuskey, Garrett Swinter, Annabella Vurraro, Isabella Wilder and Nathan Zwerka.

Current Members of the Byron-Bergen National Honor Society are: Benjamin Chaback, president; Lauren Burke, vice-president; Leah Thompson, treasurer; Larissa Ashton, Sarah Bleiler, Cameron Brumsted, Lydia Campbell, Brionna DeMichel, Jean Denson, Adam Drake, Jared Fregoe, Emma Goodman, Margaret Graney, Justin Hannan, Annaliese Hersom, Brian Ireland, Daniel Jensen, William Johnson, Brendon Kendall, Hunter Leach, Payton Mackey, Makenzie Muoio, Erin Parnapy, Sabastian Pawlukewicz, Joshua Phelps, Brianna Shade and Dana VanValkenburg.

National Honor Society membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments but also challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service. The organization has chapters in all 50 states, Canada and beyond.

Top photo: Byron-Bergen senior Brendon Kendall lights the candles representing knowledge, character, leadership, service and scholarship.

Submitted photos.

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Former BBCSD Director of Facilities and new Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Mike List (center) was welcomed back for the evening by friends and colleagues.

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Class of 1972 graduate Jacqueline Mullen visited with former teachers and classmates before her induction to the Alumni Hall of Fame.

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Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee Kimberly (Thompson) McLean (2000) with Principal Patrick McGee and District Superintendent Mickey Edwards.

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Former BBCSD Director of Facilities and new Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee Mike List (center) was welcomed back for the evening by friends and colleagues.

March 27, 2018 - 4:08pm

Inductees in the 2018 Batavia Career and Technical Center's National Technical Honor Society.

Submitted photo and press release:

This month, the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) Chapters inducted 49 career and technical students from Batavia Career and Technical Education Center.

Evening candlelight ceremonies took place at Elba High School.

These students met the rigorous criteria set forth by this national organization. The minimum grade point average for acceptance is a 3.0. Students are also selected based upon credit hours completed, attendance, volunteer service, and membership in other student organizations.

The Batavia Career and Technical Education Center is a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State. 

The 2018 Batavia Career and Technical Education Center NTHS Inductees:

Agri-Business Academy

Almadelia Salinas Guzman          Pavilion

Jade Vogel                                   Pavilion

Animal Science

Sarah Murray                               Caledonia-Mumford

Auto Technology

Hannah Tiede                              Batavia

Building Trades

Nicholas Bonamici                      Attica

Christian Bradt                            Oakfield-Alabama

Zachary Heaton                          Attica

Dylan Lang                                 Pembroke

Anthony Leitten                          Le Roy

Eric Lewis                                   Pavilion

Jordon Ludwig                            Pembroke

Breanna Montford                       Attica

Julius Ohlson                              Oakfield-Alabama

Karl Steffenilla                            Pavilion

Lucas Stucchio                           Byron-Bergen

Cosmetology

Hayle Conte                                Le Roy

Kayla Heinlein                            Pembroke

Emma Hopfinger                        Attica

Elizabeth Kowalski                     Elba

Shelby Ulm                                 Attica

Criminal Justice

Shawn Busch                              Attica

Cyle Felski                                  Pembroke

Amanda Knauss                         Pembroke

Electronics

Cole Ackert                                 Attica

Benjamin Bowman                     Byron-Bergen

Dwight Czworka                         Attica

Dominic Donley                          Batavia

Seth George                               Alexander

Thomas Pattridge                       Alexander

Chase Roth                                Alexander

Joshua Schulik                           Caledonia-Mumford

Mary Snyder                               Pavilion

Graphic Arts

Caleb Cottone                            Pembroke

Hannah Stockschlaeder             Attica

Health Careers Academy

Kaitlin Ange                               Batavia

Brionna DeMichel                      Byron-Bergen

Kaitlyn Freeman                        Pembroke

Melissa Jarnot                           Attica

Health Dimensions

Summer Anderson                    Caledonia-Mumford

Taylore Dorman                        Pembroke

Samantha Feldmann                Alexander

Nicole Welka                             Byron-Bergen

Justice Academy

Tyler Wood                               Pembroke

Metal Trades

Matthew Kurowski                    Attica

Anthony McMaster                   Batavia

Andrey Musiyevich                   Caledonia-Mumford

Anthony True                            Pavilion

Programming and Interactive Media

Donovan Kelley                        Caledonia-Mumford

Taylor Tyczka                           Attica​

March 26, 2018 - 3:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

Press release:

The Byron-Bergen Central School District is one of 152 school districts and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York State to receive the Utica National lnsurance Group's School Safety Excellence Award for 2018.

District Superintendent Mickey Edwards, Jr./Sr. High School Principal Patrick McGee, and Elementary School Principal Brian Meister accepted the top “Titanium with Honors” level award and a $500 prize, to be used to further safety efforts, on March 22.

“Our district has continued to take action in making our school safe and secure,” Edwards said. “We were one of the first in our area to bring in a school resource officer. Over the past few years, he has become an integral part of our schools and our culture, forming personal connections and relationships at all grade levels.

"Our character education program and anti-bullying activities are making measurable impacts on a daily basis. We also continue to use and improve security measures like the New York State Sheriff’s Association (NYSSA) Rapid Responder® Program, an all-hazards site-based crisis management system; our security camera system that oversees buildings and grounds; and our comprehensive visitor management system.”

“Providing a safe and secure learning environment for our students, teachers, staff, and visitors is our first priority,” he said. “We are honored to receive this recognition.”

The School Safety Excellence Award Program has three levels  —Titanium, Platinum and Gold — and annual awards are given based on quantifiable measurements of excellence in categories that include bullying prevention programs, playground safety, and other areas.

Utica National has kept children and school staff safe for more than 40 years, and currently insures more than 300 school districts in Upstate New York alone.

"Safety and health concerns continue to be a priority in our school districts," said Brian Saville, resident senior vice president in Utica National's Educational Institutions Unit. "Districts that go above and beyond to provide a safe, healthy and focused culture for learning are to be applauded, and we're pleased to count Byron-Bergen Central School District among them."

Saville noted that, beyond the recognition itself, an added benefit of following the safety program is the chance to pinpoint specific threats to safety.

“The time to address those threats is before a loss happens, which really helps contribute to the safety culture that districts are working toward,” Saville said.

March 21, 2018 - 1:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, news, schools, education.

Press release:

Byron-Bergen Central School District has named three alumni to the district’s Hall of Fame for 2018. Jacqueline Mullen (1972), Michael List (1978), and Kimberly (Thompson) McLean (2000) join the ranks of other distinguished Byron-Bergen alumni honored with a place in the Alumni Hall of Fame for their achievements after graduation.

The 2018 Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on Wednesday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the Byron-Bergen High School Auditorium.

The Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments of the district’s graduates. It provides young people with positive adult role models and shows that graduates of Byron-Bergen can achieve high levels of accomplishment in their lives. This honor is in its 15th year and has become part of the school district culture. It is a permanent reminder to students about the outcome of hard work and diligence.

mullenjacqueline2018.jpgJacqueline A. Mullen (Class of 1972)

Editor of the school newspaper, member of National Honor Society/Student Council, and American Field Service (AFS) exchange student, Mullen was active in sports and music activities at Byron-Bergen HS. She received her bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Hartwick College and her master’s degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University.

Mullen has lived and worked in Puerto Rico for more than 39 years. She currently serves as vice chancellor of Sponsored Research and Programs for Universidad del Turabo, and is active as a consultant in organizational development and fundraising. She was the executive director at the Puerto Rico Farm Bureau (1991-95) and the community economic development director at Progressa (1996-2000). She has never stopped learning and holds numerous certifications and affiliations with professional organizations. Her family includes husband Eladio, daughter Natalena, four stepchildren, and 14 grandchildren.

Mullen says she is proud of the educational opportunities she received at Byron-Bergen that served as a foundation for all her endeavors. Her dedication to family, friends, community, and profession make her an excellent role model for the students of Byron-Bergen.

listmike2018.jpgMichael List (Class of 1978)

While attending Byron-Bergen, List participated in National Honor Society, the AFS Exchange Program, chorus, Jr. Olympics, JV and Varsity wrestling, 4-H and several other clubs and organizations.

After graduating, he worked for the Bergen Canning Factory, Edward O’Ingerick Inc. of RIT Housing Developments, and Victor Furniture. He joined the staff of Byron-Bergen CSD in the Maintenance/Buildings and Grounds Department in 1984, working his way up to the leadership role of director of facilities. He retired from the District in 2017.

List is an active community member. He has held many volunteer positions in Victory Baptist Church, and taken several mission trips, including one to Haiti. After many class hours and counseling, he received certification as a Biblical Counselor in 2013. He has raised four children with his wife Marsha, and has several grandchildren.

List sets a wonderful example for students as someone who always lends a hand, gives 110% to his alma mater, church and community, and remains true to faith and family.

mcleanthompsonkimberly2018.jpgKimberly (Thompson) McLean (Class of 2000)

During her time at Byron-Bergen, McLean was her class’s Salutatorian. She participated in track, volleyball, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Future Teachers of America, and many other activities. She was a Genesee County Fair Queen contestant and a cheerleader.

McLean graduated from Geneseo State College in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics. She received her master’s degree from Geneseo in 2008. She has volunteered with several local organizations and received many scholarships and accolades including membership in Pi Mu Epsilon National Mathematics Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma, and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Currently teaching math at Spencerport High School, McLean was awarded Teacher of the Year (2010), received The Golden Apple Award (2016), been class advisor, coached Jr. FLL Robotics, been an intern advisor for National Honor Society, coached Powder Puff Football, and taught summer school.

McLean’s passion for teaching, dedication and hard work make her an excellent role model for our youth.

All three inductees will spend the day of March 28 visiting with Byron-Bergen students and sharing how their school experience influenced their lives. Inductees will receive their Alumni Hall of Fame plaques during the school’s National Senior Honor Society induction ceremony that evening.

March 12, 2018 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

Press release:

image002.jpg“The growth mindset of this district was what really attracted me to Byron-Bergen,” said Byron-Bergen Elementary School’s new Assistant Principal Betsy Brown. “The approach to education is innovative and forward-thinking. I’m so impressed with the opportunities our students have here.”

“We’re fortunate to have an administrator with Betsy’s depth and experience,” said Elementary School Principal Brian Meister. “She is a great addition to our team, and I think she will bring a wonderful combination of commitment, caring, innovation, and humor to her role.”

Brown has 15 years of experience in elementary education. She came to the district from Avon Central Schools, where she supported students and staff as a literacy coach for three years. Prior to that, she taught third and fourth grade, and kindergarten.

Brown holds a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a Master of Education degree in literacy, earned at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Her administrative coursework was completed at the University of Rochester.

Getting to know the students has been Brown’s first priority. She has been meeting them all, one classroom at a time.

“I don’t want them to be nervous around me,” she said. “It’s important that students know that I am always here to help them.”

“I’m particularly excited about the Character Education program here,” she said "I love the enthusiasm our students have for supporting one another and keeping their school safe. From classroom visits, I can see that the teachers do an amazing job of teaching students in ways that are fun and engaging."

“I really am passionate about English Language Arts (ELA),” she said, “and Byron-Bergen has a great Reading Recovery program for early intervention. I’m looking forward to supporting our teachers with that and helping them continue to build a strong ELA program that incorporates the latest standards."

Brown was an active member of the video coaching professional development team at Avon, and will continue her activity as a coach at Byron-Bergen.

“Byron-Bergen has been the regional leader in offering video coaching as a way for teachers to grow and to improve their teaching methods,” she said. “Teachers here have embraced the technology, and students are benefitting from the results.”

Open communication, Brown believes, is an essential part of any school. She is looking forward to meeting families and parents and working with them to ensure an exceptional school experience for their students. She encourages parents to call or stop in.

“We have an active social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, too,” she said. “They provide a window into all the activities students are doing in the classroom.”

The community can follow the assistant principal on Twitter @MrsBetsyMBrown.

March 9, 2018 - 12:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news, arts.

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Press release:

Renowned ballerina Aesha Ash encourages Byron-Bergen students to dream bigger.

Ballet star Aesha Ash told the hundreds of students at Byron-Bergen Elementary School that when she was growing up in Rochester, “there were no princesses or fairies that looked like me. There were no magical creatures, unicorns or swans that looked like me.”

When she dreamed of being a ballerina, she was told that there were no black ballerinas and that she would never succeed. She dreamed anyway, and she did succeed. She was accepted to the legendary School of American Ballet where she was chosen to join the New York City Ballet when she was 18 — one of the first black dancers in the corps.

How did this world-famous dancer and winner of the National Women’s History Museum's 2016 Women Making History Award, come to be in Byron-Bergen? Fourth-grade teacher Alyson Tardy heard about Ash’s Swan Dreams Project, which was founded in 2011. This project uses powerful imagery to counter negative stereotypes of race and socio-economic background and inspire children to dream bigger.

Tardy thought that Ash’s message would be a great tie-in to the school’s character education program. She invited Ash and coordinated the special visit. Students surprised their visitor with a hallway lined with artwork featuring swans of many shapes and colors.

“The art is so beautiful,” Ash said. “I’m honored that the kids welcomed me this way.”

At the crowded assembly, Ash shared her story with attentive students, beginning with her passion for dance and her determination to become a ballerina.

She explained how she was part of Rochester’s Urban Suburban program, and constantly faced questions and misunderstanding from peers about her background and city neighborhood. Her family was not rich; she told the story of borrowing toe shoes for her first tryout. Even when Ash became a professional ballet dancer, she felt a sense of not belonging, of being different.

“All my life, I’ve fought to change perceptions and dispel myths — for myself, my family and my Rochester community,” she said. “The more that people told me that I couldn’t do something, the more I wanted to do it.”

Ash’s professional dance career lasted 13 years. It included eight years with the NYC Ballet along with performing in the Bejart Ballet in Switzerland and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, and with many other companies as a freelance artist.

She and her family currently live in California where she is working to make the Swan Dreams Project an afterschool program. She hopes to open a studio where she can teach ballet to children who are not able to afford lessons.

The Swan Dreams Project video she shared with Byron-Bergen students can be found here.

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February 8, 2018 - 3:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, byron, bergen, schools, education, arts, news.

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Students from Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School who are participating in Sandy Auer's pottery classes traveled to Rochester today for the class's annual visit to the Flower City Arts Center, where they could experience throwing pottery for a first time on a pottery wheel. The students then work with Mrs. Auer one-on-one in class throwing their own pottery pieces. 

"It's a great experience for the students," Mrs. Auer said.

Photos and info provided by Byron-Bergen High School.

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