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November 14, 2017 - 3:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, batavia, education, news, Announcements, Milestones.

Press release:

Kimberly Curry, an accounting student at Genesee Community College, has been named a 2017 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar and will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Curry is one of only 207 nationwide Phi Theta Kappa members who will receive this scholarship. Nearly 1,000 applications were received this year. Recipients are selected based on their academic achievement and demonstrated leadership potential.

The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides $200,000 in funding for these scholarships with $25,000 set aside for members who are veterans or active members of the U.S. military. The remaining amount is supported by donations to Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and provides Leaders of Promise Global Scholarships, earmarked for international students.

Curry proudly served in the Army from 1987-1991 and then was called back up again during Operation Desert Storm.

"This scholarship really means a lot to me, especially considering my time in the armed forces. It is one way to ensure that veterans like me can obtain the college credentials we need to succeed and give back to our communities," Curry said.

This scholarship foundation also encourages recipients to participate in Society programs to develop leadership skills and position themselves to become future leaders in their communities. The scholarship funds help to provide these opportunities as well. Curry certainly took advantage of this chance and joined a new organization in Rochester called the Southside Junior Sting, part of the local Pop Warner organization.

The Southside Junior Sting had one primary responsibility; to ensure that every child or young adult who wanted to participate in organized football had the financial means to do so. The group organized fundraiser events throughout the community to make sure that every person could play. During her time with this group, Curry met some amazing and dedicated leaders and connected to her community and the kids they were helping.

With more than three million members in nearly 1,300 chapters across nine nations, Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing academic achievement of community college students, helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. Visit www.ptka.org to learn more about Phi Theta Kappa.

November 13, 2017 - 4:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, scholarships, education, discover the stars.

Press release:

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the annual Discover the Stars Scholarship Reception will take place in the Conable Technology Building's south lobby and in room T102 on GCC's Batavia Campus at One College Road in Batavia.

This reception brings together GCC's scholarship recipients, members of the College Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors, College administrators and the many donors who made the recipients' academic dreams a reality. The reception will begin at 4 p.m., followed by a special presentation at 4:30 p.m.

Genesee Community College Foundation scholarships recognize academic excellence, make higher education accessible to all students, and promote economic vitality in the GLOW region. There are nearly 200 scholarships available at GCC and applications, which can be completed online, are accepted throughout each year.

For nearly 20 years, the Discover the Stars event has been a special occasion that grants scholarship recipients and their families, Foundation and Board of Trustee members and community leaders the opportunity to meet, chat and celebrate stories of success and career achievement, while inspiring the next generation of students.

The 2017 celebration will feature guest speaker, Kathleen "Kitty" E. Maerten, who graduated from GCC in 1975. She earned a bachelor's degree from The College at Brockport (SUNY), her Master of Social Work degree from Florida State University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration also from SUNY Brockport.

Maerten spent her long career working with children and their families in a variety of settings including as a marriage and family counselor and a school social worker. She served as the chairperson on the Special Education Committee and as site administrator for the Alternative High School in the Lockport City School District. In 2000, Maerten became the school principal at Alexander Central School District, and from 2008 - 2017 she served as the superintendent.

A 2003 graduate of Leadership Genesee, she also served on the Board of Directors at GCASA and the Board of Directors of the Genesee County Business Education. Currently, Maerten is working with a steering committee to begin a Leadership program in Orleans County. She and her husband, Max, are enjoying retirement and when they aren't out exploring the beautiful countryside, they spend time with their two sons and four grandchildren. 

In addition, the family of the late, Ann Reid will share a special presentation honoring her life, musical legacy, and her philanthropic contributions to GCC's Scholarship Program. Reid, born in Buffalo, graduated from Immaculata Academy in Hamburg and earned her Bachelor of Music from Boston University. Reid appeared in "Funny Girl," starring Carol Lawrence, and played "Sheila" in the Italian production of "HAIR" in Rome, Italy. Reid traveled the world developing her singing and composing career with jobs in Saudi Arabia and Communist Poland.

In the late 1970s, Reid found herself in Los Angeles and earned her Master of Arts in Music with a minor in Conducting from California State University Los Angeles. Reid's love for teaching and her students brought her to GCC in 1996. She received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity in 2004 and retired in 2013.

Composer, musician, and former GCC professor of Music, Reid's contributions to the performing arts and music programs at GCC impacted the entire community. Her original production, "AElinor," premiered in 2011, marking the first time in 62 seasons the Genesee Symphony Orchestra premiered the work of a local composer. In her honor, the Richard and Maribell Scholl Reid Musical Theatre Scholarship, named after Reid's parents, was established and continues to provide financial assistance and encourage Fine and Performing Arts students to pursue their dreams and passions, as Ann Reid did. 

For more information about Discover the Stars Scholarship Reception, or to RSVP, call (585) 345-6809, or email: [email protected].

November 11, 2017 - 2:24pm

Press release:

This month St. Paul Lutheran School in Batavia is celebrating 20 years of educating children in and around Batavia, from prekindergarten to fifth grade. On Sunday, Nov. 26, there will be a special Alumni Reunion & School Celebration!

The worship service will take place from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., immediately followed by the reunion outside the main church entrance at 31 Washington Ave.

There will be old photographs and DVDs to see and reminiscing with former schoolmates and teachers.

For questions, contact Mrs. Ann Werk, school principal, at 343-0488.

November 10, 2017 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, education, news, batavia.

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Genesee Community College held an open house for prospective students today. It's the first one since the Student Success Center and Richard C. Call Arena opened and some 200 potential students, often with their parents, attended the event.

The next one is from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Nov. 18, to coincide with SUNY Financial Aid Day.

Top photo: Navaily Petrona, Susan Ryan, and Stephany Mercilia. Ryan is assistant director for admissions and Petrona and Mercilia, both from Curacao, were student guides for tours. 

Below, Zoe Skarzenski, along with her mother, Susan, and father, Terry, from Findley Lake, stopped by the student bookstore to check out some GCC-branded apparel.

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A tour through GCC's TV studio.

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November 7, 2017 - 5:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, GCC, news, history, education, Confederate monuments, notify.

Turns out history is not what you learned about from your fifth-grade textbook.

Like human beings, it’s complicated, multifaceted and a work in progress.

Historians who gathered at Genesee Community College on Saturday to discuss monuments and statues of the Confederacy made that point clear.

Other issues emanating from that controversial topic were more opaque.

Should Confederate monuments be disassembled and put into a museum? Or stand as they are and “contextualized” by the addition of explanatory signage or a juxtaposing anti-memorial?

By what criteria do we evaluate the people honored? Are they more than their worst traits? Do they contribute to the public discussion beyond their role in the Confederacy?

While more and more Americans wrestle with those kinds of questions, by all accounts, the current debate is fraught with emotion. There’s a quick-tempered divisiveness that too often rapidly devolves into shouting matches or worse, culminating in the nadir at Charlottesville.

Derek Maxfield, Ph.D., GCC associate professor of History, brought together a three-man panel to weigh in on Confederate monuments. It was the last session in a day spent talking about the short shrift that history, especially local history, is getting in New York classrooms, the stifling trend of "teaching to the test," and disaster preparedness as it relates to safeguarding historical artifacts.

Speaking were:

  • (Via Skype) Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., who lives just outside Frederickburg, Va., but teaches online as professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at St. Bonaventure University in Cattaraugus County.
  • Michael Eula, Ph.D., Genesee County historian, who is a retired academic who spent 30 years in the California Community College system.
  • Danny Hamner, GCC adjunct professor of History for the past 15 years in Batavia.

They cited a series of articles which have been published online at a site called "The Emerging Civil War,” which offers fresh and evolving perspectives on America’s deadliest conflict. (To visit, click here.​)

Mackowski provided a launching point for the sake of the discussion at GCC. He penned an article from a free speech perspective for the Emerging Civil War series because it interested him as a journalism professor, and other authors had dibs on other aspects of the controversy.

“As soon as you start saying, ‘Take down that statue because it’s offensive to me,’ to me, that’s a First Amendment issue,“ Mackowski said. "Here you have artistic expression and people saying ‘That art is offensive.’ It’s always been my understanding that one of the purposes of art is to provoke. So, of course, in some ways it’s going to be offensive to some people.”

Eula said “I couldn’t agree more that art as embodied in these statues is by definition provocative. In fact, it should be provocative. First and foremost, we need to remember that when we look at these monuments, and the discussion surrounding them, we are talking about more than monuments.

“We’re talking about how we conceive of American history…of our civil society. I think each side engaging in the conversation needs to take a moment to try and understand the other perspective, the other side."

Hamner said that although he’s disturbed by the emotional response against Confederate artwork, he diverged with Mackowski on two points.

Firstly, the question of public art versus private expression.

He said he associates the First Amendment with personal displays of art: putting a Confederate flag on your porch.

“But when it comes to public art, to me it’s not a question of free speech, it’s a question of pure politics,” Hamner said.

Therefore, Hamner advocates having a true political process to work through so that opinions are heard and a “rationale discourse” can take place regarding each monument or statue on a case by case basis.

Secondly, whether there is “instrinsic value” in a work of art strikes him as “moving the goalpost a little bit.”

Hamner said the tougher question that does need addressing is: “Do these people have intrinsic values that we need to respect – outside of their association with the Confederacy?”

Mackowski, acknowledging he purposely wrote from the viewpoint he did because it was not covered by others in the online series, agreed with his colleagues.

As we wrestle with the notion of what makes somebody worth honoring, a fear – particularly in pro-Confederate quarters – is “Who’s next?” Mackowski said, and while some argue this is a slippery slope, he allowed that “we probably need to evaluate some of these other folks.”

What do these guys represent?

It was at this point that host Maxfield brought up the stark argument, in The Emerging Civil War series, proferred by Julie Mujic (pronounced “MEW-hick”), Ph.D., adjunct professor of History at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio.

She argues that Confederate statues commemorate treason and ought to be removed.

“To sustain Confederate monuments sends the message that it’s necessary to celebrate the effort, even when that effort was malicious. The monuments must come down. They represent inequality, oppression…”

Mackowski said Mujic’s stance strikes at the heart of the whole argument: "What do these guys represent?”

“As you know, the history of the war was rewritten as soon as the war was over. And instead of it being about slavery, it starts to be about ‘noble sacrifice’, ‘doing your duty’, and ‘honor’ and ‘states’ rights’.

“So today, a lot of people refuse to look at people who served with the Confederacy as being traitors, but in fact, that’s what they were. … So do you honor that or not? That’s a very important question that we don’t have a common context for.”

Hamner has a problem with both Mujic’s argument AND the defenders of the monuments for essentially the same reason.

He cites a catch phrase, even used by President Trump in a tweet, that “You can’t change history.”

He said people tend to think of the past as objective, factual and unchanging; our historical interpretation of that past as either right or wrong.

The problem is, that “implies that the process was somehow supposed to end.”

The deal is, reinterpretation of the objective truth is going to happen with every generation, as knowledge evolves, more facts come to light, consensus migrates.

As they all conceded, historians and the citizenry can’t change the past, but the interpretations of the past must be constantly requestioned.

"I’m always struck by the curious statement that ‘We’re revising history'," Eula said. "My reaction is that ‘History is always being revised.’ "

Having said that, Eula noted that at the time most, if not all, of the statues and monuments were erected, there was no national debate about it, no consensus.

“We need to keep in mind the question: Is the removal of a monument erasing history or merely calling our attention to what is now a different interpretation of that moment in time?”

Forgotten nearly always in these discussions, Eula pointed out, are the poor whites who had not been supportive of the Confederacy from the get-go.

A whole year before the North passed a draft law forcing mandatory armed service, the Confederacy did so, which tells historians the South was not getting the numbers of volunteers for The Lost Cause that many today would like to imagine.

And the slave-holding elite, later the pardoned ex-slave-holding elite, still got the run of the place after the war.

That meant former slave owners got to become the local bankers, and pass vagrancy laws, which continued the bondage of freed men, Eula explained.

This informs today’s understanding of the time in which the statues came to be.

“My point is that it isn’t simply a straightforward proposition as to whether these statues are works of art protected by the First Amendment; whether or not there are contemporary implications for race relations in our own day.

“These are products of a specific historical moment in a specific part of the country.”

Impact Beyond the Confederacy

Eula also said many of the Confederate generals had no significance beyond their military career. That raises the question, for example, does this form a slippery-slope logic for the removal, say of the Washington Monument? No, Eula argues, because although Washington owned slaves, “his significance lies in his contribution to the construction of a new nation.”

“These (Confederate) monuments are dedicated to the memory of an elite South…seeking to destroy the United States in the name of slavery…that was as busy trampling on the rights of poor whites as it was on the slaves."

And, if the decision is made to get rid of a monument, which whether you like it or not is a “historical document,” then the process to do so must abide by some local, identifiable political construct.

To just tear down a monument, Eula said, is akin to someone walking into the Genesee County archives and saying “Well, I don’t like what’s said on this particular piece of paper, therefore, I’m going the shred it.”

“Just like for any other historical document, we have to find a way to preserve these. Whether or not they should be preserved in a public space, that’s another issue...

“These are the kinds of issues that need to be sorted out before we can make any final decision on whether or not any particular Confederate memorial stays or is replaced,” Eula said.

The operative phrase is “particular piece,” says Mackowski.

“To look at Confederate monuments as a big, monolithic one-size-fits-all sort of issue is absolutely the wrong way to go about it,” Mackowski said. "But because tempers are flaring and emotions are high, that’s sort of how people are approaching it.”

Instead, a lot of questions should be asked to inform a reasoned debate, say historians.

Who was the monument put up to honor? Why was it put up? Who put it up? When? What was the intent?

Moreover, a statue of Stonewall Jackson is a very different thing than a statue in the courthouse square that honors the local county boys who got drafted into a regiment and sent off to war.

Plus, consider that community values change, and over 150 years, they change a lot.

A book by David Lowenthal called “The Past is a Foreign Country – Revisited” describes, the panelist said, how today’s values differ vastly from those of yesteryear.

So, it behooves people today not to try and look at history through the lens of “presentism.”

“I think we’re not really talking about history at all when we talk about these monuments, we’re talking about memory,” Mackowski said.

The Sorry State of Historical Literacy

This observation prompted Maxfield to mention a problem he calls “historical literacy,” or more precisely, the lack thereof.

“I don’t want to come off as elitist about this, but the fact of the matter is we are spending less and less time in the public schools teaching history,” Maxfield said.

“We’re shoving it out of the curriculum and, in fact, Confederate history in particular, CANNOT be discussed in some Northern states.”

And vice versa; Texas comes to mind.

“That’s an unhealthy phenomenon, when you can’t look at the other side of an argument,” Maxfield said.

Meanwhile, Hamner is concerned that while people scurry to make sure history’s getting correctly written and that context is being correctly construed, there’s a gaping window open for some people to ram their political agendas through.

“One only has to look at the way Donald Trump defended the artistic value of these monuments, when he has a l-o-n-g history of development in New York City of tearing down artwork after artwork to make room for his projects.”

To wit, the construction of Trump Plaza is said to have resulted in the destruction of an Art Deco-style store that featured windows created by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.

None other than the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City waited in eager anticipation of what was supposed to be the fantabulous donation of massive Art Deco bas-relief murals from that store, only to find they had been knocked down and destroyed by Trump’s crew so as not to prolong the project by a week and a half.

The point?

“We have to be very careful that we are separating people who are using some very valid argument to shield ulterior political agendas,” Hamner said, adding “…I would hate to see a very important, intelligent conversation like this being used in a way as a shield for what I consider very, very base intentions.”

It also is not helpful that the general public does not seem to understand what the discipline of history is all about.

“A lot of what historians do is really philosophy,” Maxfield said. “Until we have the opportunity to teach more critical thinking and encourage more exploration, I’m afraid what we‘re doing, especially in the public schools, is narrow and narrow and narrow.”

Facts and Sensibilities

It’s important to remember, too, Mackowski offered, that in history, a set of facts does not equal a set of facts. Two plus two does not equal four when you are dealing with facts in history, he said.

Fact: The Union Army moved in to occupy Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862.

But that fact is viewed vastly differently by two diarists who wrote about it. One was a member of the social elite who wrote about it being this great calamity; “The Yankee invaders are here; this is awful.”

An emancipated slave saw it differently. He wrote “This is the greatest day of my life. This is the greatest thing to ever happen.”

Thus, adding together different historical perspectives over the span of a century and a half is something that can’t be “summed up” tidily.

“Before this degenerates into mindless philosophy,” Maxfield told Saturday’s attendees, garnering some comic relief, how about considering one solution offered by a historian: Leave all the monuments as they are, but just improve the interpretive signage.

How other nations have addressed the issue of historical monuments was something that Eula explored when asked to participate in the GCC panel.

“The whole issue of holocaust memorials was an obvious one” to look into, he said.

One approach he found was memorials constructed next to other memorials with different interpretations attached to them.

In the United States, for example, you could put up: a monument next to the existing one that denotes the number of slaves murdered during their enslavement; or the number of soldiers who were murdered at the Confederate prison of war camp at Andersonville, Ga.; or “the number of poor whites who couldn’t buy their way out of the draft, who didn’t support the planters’ war, and who paid for that with prison sentences,” Eula said.

Coming up with a county-by-county count of the dead, might be a way of “softening the effects of the monuments with regard to those who find them objectionable,” the official county historian said.

At this juncture, Hamner said he sees agreement about the panel’s strategies and tactics; but it comes down to his original point: the need to separate the historical element from the political one.

“I would hate to take The Lost Cause interpretation monument and then simply encase it in a new interpretation and say ‘That’s the official interpretation. Now it’s done.’ "

There is no "One Conclusive Truth"

Hamner's desire is to protect the PROCESS of public history, not the monuments themselves.

“If the political process in that community says ‘We’re putting it in a museum.’ Ultimately, I’m for that," Hamner said. "What I’m really worried about is understanding the particularities of each monument, maintaining the process of investigation, and the willingness to revise our thinking – every generation, every person.”

Which begs the question, in Eula’s mind, as to WHY we necessarily have to have ‘ONE CONCLUSIVE TRUTH’?, he asked, slapping his hand on the table as he spoke each word.

“The minute you do that it leads you down, historically, a path of dogmatism that tends to shut down democracy, that tends to shut down the expression of free ideas.”

What if we as a society never have agreement?

“So what! … Why can’t we agree to disagree and have a civil discourse?” Eula asked.

The absolute declaration of what the correct interpretation is, was called totalitarianism in the 20th century, Eula reminded the audience.

Remember, there was a time when you were either for or against McCarthyism. You were either for or against the United States entering the purported "war to end all wars,” “The Great War” -- World War I.

“That’s when a lot of innocent people get hurt and killed, for reasons to me that are absolutely senseless,” Eula said.

Mackowski countered with a “get real” argument.

Philosophizing aside, and since the notion of “contextualization” of Confederate monuments is so kosher among historians, Mackowski wanted to play devil’s advocate.

“If you’re driving down Monument Avenue in Richmond (Va.), it’s basically an auto park,” Mackowski said. “Who’s able to stop at one of those traffic islands in the middle of traffic and read context about Stonewall Jackson or Jeb Stewart or Jefferson Davis?”

Context is actually difficult to pull off in some places, he noted, and maybe even if you could pull it off, does it really match up to these giant men on giant pedestals?, he asked.

And let’s say you decide to leave it in place, what about vandalization?

To that, Maxfield chimed in with something that a historian from Texas A&M University had to offer, and that is that location does matter.

Andersonville, for example, is cited as the South’s version of a 19th century concentration camp; a place where 11,000 to 13,000 federal troops meet a grisly end under brutal conditions.

If a monument stands in a place such as this, it should be kept there, the scholar argued, even if publicly funded, because going TO that site or a battlefield is voluntary. The same cannot be said for someone who must drive past a statue that offends you every day to get to work and there’s no other route to go; that’s involuntary.

Plus, on a battlefield, historians and/or Park Service employees are there to help with knotty questions and interpretations, right?

Wrong, says Mackowski, in fact Park Service employees have largely been silent on the issue. Because taxpayers pay their salaries, they can’t really delve into it.

Some of the people best equipped to comment on this discussion have their hands tied because of politics, Mackowski said.

Nor has academia been free from constraints, Maxfield noted.

Removing monuments on a battlefield, which is essentially a giant cemetery, raises “other complexities,” according to Eula, who stressed the need for balance.

“Because we have people there, regardless of our own idealogical beliefs, who ended their life there, most likely involuntarily.”

He went on to recall how memorials to Stalin and Lenin came down in Eastern Europe in the middle of the last century.

Growing Dissent

“My point here is that, as much as it pains me to say this, there could be enough popular dissent out there regarding all these statues that no amount of discussion or legislation could change.

“It could be that our own society has so changed in the span of the last two generations in particular, that there is this huge upsurge demanding a removal of some of these monuments in the way that we saw in the Soviet Union with regard to Stalin.

“And I’m not convinced historians, even the most well intentioned, are really going to have a whole lot to say about this.”

This perspective prompted Mackowski to ask why this moment, why now?

Eula maintains that some of this popular dissent has been growing for a long time, back to the 1960s and the feelings spurred by the morass of the Vietnam War.

“It’s what I started off by saying – this is not simply about Confederate monuments,” Eula responded. “There are deeper currents here at work, and these didn’t begin recently.”

The groundswell of attention paid to the subject these days could, in part, stem from harsh “economic realities” many people face, which historians have largely been insulated from.

This means that “some of our discussions are frankly going to prove irrelevant” because they are not, rightly or wrongly, in alignment with what the populace is feeling, thinking or demanding, Eula said flatly.

Hamner said, on one hand, there’s this sort of academic/historical question of how best to contextualize Confederate artwork. Then on the other hand, there’s a deeper human question of WHY historians do what they do.

The thing that matters most of all, he said, is that – regardless of whether a decision is made to keep or do away with a monument – that a process is followed to get to the decision.

Hamner contends that the camp that says "Leave it alone. Don’t touch them" is made up of people who want to freeze time and not confront the complexity of heritage.

They are reducing human beings to their best qualities – like bravery – “a disembodied sort of character trait.”

But the opposite camp is also reductionist – making complex humans villains and the epitome of their worst characteristics.

For an example of the former, Mackowski showed a picture of the statue of Stonewall Jackson at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William County, Va. (See inset photo above.)

He said Jackson is made to look like “Arnold Schwarzenegger on a Budweiser Clydesdale" … like this God of War – a horseman of the Apocalypse. In reality, Jackson was slight, modest and “would have been appalled to be portrayed this way.”

In other words, monuments are less about facts and more about “how people want to remember the Stonewalls.”

What About Bias?

A student asked the panel, “So if interpretation is the key solution, how do we select the accurate interpretation for each monument without being biased?”

The panel's collective wisdom: Finding “the objective truth” and “the right interpretation” is doomed.

Rather it is consensus itself, by interpreting and reinterpreting, that will painstakingly get you “closer and closer” to what the pluralistic outcome ought to be.

Yet Maxfield said even that is elusive because “there are progressive historians that believe progress in humankind is possible – you get closer and improve – but other historians disagree with that." That dichotomy also shapes interpretation.

Eula said he thinks it’s not possible for a historian not to be biased. So you be as objective as you can be by acknowledging your bias, “your theory.”

Since “just the facts” are not the whole story, “you look at evidence based upon your starting point. But the responsibility of the scholar is to let the audience know: This is my starting point.”

Before you can get to an interpretation of a monument, for example, you have to get people to “understand that history is relevant,” Mackowski replied.

“Unless you can get people to understand that history is not what happened in the past, but rather why the past is influencing what is going on RIGHT NOW, people aren’t going to get to that (new and improved) interpretation.”

It’s that whole issue of general historical illiteracy that Maxfield had lamented earlier.

To make meaningful headway, people have to have discussions, the historians said, not ongoing yelling matches.

“Or 140 characters of saying ‘You’re wrong!’ " Mackowski concluded.

November 3, 2017 - 3:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, Batavia CTE, batavia, news, schools, education.

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Parents of students and parents of prospective students were able to tour Batavia CTE (BOCES) last night and see firsthand what some of the course offerings are that help prepare students for careers in law enforcement, welding, manufacturing, agriculture, auto repair, cosmetology, culinary arts and other careers.

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November 1, 2017 - 9:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in STOP-DWI, byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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Press release:

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School seventh-grader Zoey Shepard surpassed the competition and was named Grand Prize winner in Genesee County’s annual STOP-DWI Poster Contest. Her sister, eighth-grader Grace Shepard, took First Place in the category for grades 6-8, and classmate Kendall Phillips won Third Place honors in that same group.

All three designers will be recognized at the STOP-DWI Awards Luncheon on Nov. 28 at Terry Hills Restaurant and Banquet Facility in Batavia.

The contest is sponsored by the county’s STOP-DWI Advisory Board. This year’s theme was “You can hand over your keys or your life. Make the right choice.”

Zoey Shepard’s Grand-Prize-winning poster design will be applied to T-shirts and a prominent county billboard to help raise awareness for the dangers of drinking and driving.

When the competition was announced in September, Grace Shepard, a 2016 STOP-DWI contest winner, enthusiastically promoted it to the other girls. All three designed their entries on their own time, outside of class. Art teacher Sandy Auer worked with them, guiding their discussions about what makes a great design.

“They were very serious about creating good compositions with compelling imagery and readability,” Auer said. “All three have a passion for art that is awesome to see. I really enjoy teaching them.”

Photo: Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School’s STOP-DWI award-winners (l-r) Kendall Phillips, Grace Shepard and Zoey Shepard.

October 27, 2017 - 3:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, college scholarship, Announcements.

Press release:

ONEONTA, NY—To underscore its commitment to providing an affordable education to students from the Empire State, Hartwick College officials have announced The Hartwick College Founders’ Award, a guaranteed tuition grant of $10,000 per year.

The $10,000 guaranteed grant will be awarded to each newly enrolled first-year and transfer student who is a resident of New York state. Grants will be awarded to new students beginning in the fall of 2018.

While Hartwick educates students from every state and dozens of countries, historically 75 percent of the College’s students hail from New York. Founded in 1797, and as one of the oldest colleges in the nation, Hartwick has deep ties and a commitment to the citizens of New York State.

“This new award is intended to send a clear message to families from New York state that we understand their concerns about college affordability,” said President Margaret L. Drugovich. “We chose the name ‘Founders’ Award’ as a tribute to the many generous supporters of the College who have made a Hartwick education affordable for students over these last two centuries.

"Many Hartwick alumni have told me that they could not have obtained their Hartwick education except for the generosity of others. The Founders’ Award continues that tradition.”

New students who enroll at Hartwick starting in the fall of 2018, and who remain enrolled and in good academic standing, will receive a $10,000 Founder’s Award for each year of their enrollment. Because Hartwick is committed to experiential education that has a positive, global impact, there are no eligibility income limits or post-graduation residency requirements. Students who enroll in the College’s innovative Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Program are also eligible for this award.

The Hartwick College Founders’ Award will provide the foundation of each New York State student’s financial aid award. Students may also qualify for additional college grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid based upon their eligibility. No special grant application is required; students need simply apply for admission to Hartwick and file the Federal Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA).

“The Hartwick College Founders’ Award is another example of our commitment to providing a high-quality, affordable education for our students and their families,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Karen McGrath. “We’re pleased to offer this no-strings-attached award to the college-bound students of New York, and to continue the longstanding tradition of educating New York’s next generation of global citizens.”

#  #  #

Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

October 19, 2017 - 2:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, Announcements, education, CTE.

Press release:

The Batavia Career and Technical Education Center (CTE) will hold an Open House from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Students, parents and community members are invited to tour the center and discover the many skilled trades opportunities available at this facility.

Crime scene analysis, 3-D printing processes, welding applications, animal care methods, and the newest cosmetology trends are just a few of the practices students learn at Batavia CTE.

All programs housed at this campus will also be open for touring including the Batavia Academy, the Intensive Therapeutic Program, the Transition and Practical Assessment Exploration Systems Programs and other school-age special education programs.

The Batavia CTE Center is located at 8250 State Street Road. Please call (585) 344-7711 with any questions.

About CTE

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 providing shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York state.

October 13, 2017 - 5:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Middle School, batavia, schools, education, news.

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Batavia Middle School held its first-ever pep rally this afternoon, celebrating the participation of students in sports and clubs. Teachers and students also participated in some fun competitions.

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October 12, 2017 - 7:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, schools, education, news.

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From Science teachers Sherri Lovria and Mike Chiulli:

Science classes at Le Roy Jr. Sr. High School have current technology available to them. Digital microscopes provide students with an easier and more accurate way to view the microscopic world. Digital microscopes contain cameras for easy viewing through a software interface.

Images visible through the eyepiece are accurately viewed on a computer allowing for students to view specimen together so they can collaborate on identification and analysis. Images can be captured and saved as still photos or as videos. 

Thanks to an alumni technology donation, a classroom set of digital microscopes are being used by students in Sherri Lovria and Mike Chiulli’s Living Environment, AP Biology and Infectious Disease classes to explore and more easily observe the natural world. For example: the process of osmosis in onion cells; cell structure comparison; cyclosis in elodea; microscopic organisms in pond water; chromosome spreads from HeLa cancer cells to identify abnormal chromosomes; simple stains of bacterial smears and Gram stain results to identify bacteria; sickle-shaped red blood cells to detect the presence of malaria parasite; human cell comparison due to gene expression; and Daphnia as a model to design and perform experiments to detect environmental effects on organisms.

Students have found the microscopes to be much easier to manipulate. Mrs. Lovria’s Living Environment classes recently performed a lab investigation that introduced the microscopes to the students. Students were gathered around laptops and adjusted fields of view to follow the progress of several microscopic pond organisms as the organisms fed on algae and detritus.

The students were fully engaged in exploring the microscopic world with exclamations of “Whoa, look at that!”, “Oh, this one is different,” and “That one is really weird -- it’s a vorticella!” throughout the classroom.

For many years students were unenthused about using microscopes; it was an individual experience and not always one in which all students actively engaged. In addition, since only one person could view a specimen at a time, teachers were not sure of the students’ understanding of what they were observing.

Having this more up to date technology is a definite benefit. Because the students enjoy working with them they use the microscope for longer periods of time and Mrs. Lovria reports that they already have a better understanding of the microscope parts and functions. But, just as important, they are finding their curiosity to explore!

From Principal Tim McArdle:

"We are very fortunate to have a community that supports our endeavors in the classroom and beyond!"

"Our teachers are always ready and take great pride in implementing new and exciting opportunities for our students. I cannot thank them enough for their efforts and willingness to learn and grow professionally to better our students."  

Photos submitted by Tim McArdle.

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October 11, 2017 - 5:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Middle School, schools, education, news, batavia.

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Photos and information submitted by Batavia City Schools:

As part of a school-wide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) Day, all students in Batavia Middle School rotated through three grade-specific learning stations to participate in a variety of interactive STEAM-based activities.

Fifth-graders, at one station, used a Bloxel application and kit to design and build their own video game settings and characters, then upload them for virtual gaming adventures. At another, they created useful items -- such as wallets, bookmarks and lanyards -- using nothing but decorative duct tape and their imaginations. At the third, they tried different size wheels on a robotic car to determine how wheel size changed the amount of time it takes to travel a given distance.

Sixth-graders played challenging coding games at one station. At another, as part of learning about simple machines, they worked in groups to build a catapult and test its launching capabilities by hurling an eraser down a measured track. After each shot, they returned to their building table to make adjustments that would improve their machine’s performance. At their third learning station, the students made paper jack-o-lanterns lit by a small bulb that was powered by a circuit they had completed.

Seventh-graders also created circuits using copper tape and a battery laid out on a piece of paper and used the power to light a small bulb that completed a picture they had drawn on the reverse side of the paper. At another station, they simulated the popular Escape Experiences exercise and solved puzzles to discover the necessary information for unlocking a mystery box. At a third, they used several different apps to drive and design programs for driving robotic sphero balls. 

Eighth-grade students had the opportunity to program a robotic space-rover so it would move around to pick up and capture objects. At another station, the classroom became a live computer game with scenarios and situations being announced, then students determining what their next move should be. At their third station, students learned how to create a flip book out of index cards -- a book with a series of pictures that depict gradual changes from one page to the next, so that when the pages are flicked rapidly, it looks like a moving picture. 

The kits for these learning adventures were provided through the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership Library Services, which also helped to plan and facilitate the Middle School’s STEAM Day.

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October 11, 2017 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, schools, education, news.

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A bit of rain didn't hold back the K-5 students at St. Paul's Lutheran School today from their annual walk-a-thon to help raise money for the school's tuition assistance program. They just moved the money-raising trek inside.

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October 11, 2017 - 3:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Middle School, batavia, schools, education, news, b-squad.

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From Sarah Gahagan:

Yesterday's destination for B Squad was the Batavia Police Department. We ran 1.35 miles and met up with Detective Matt Wojaszczk and Assistant Police Chief Todd Crossett. Both men enjoy running and staying physically active. They spoke about how critically important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle, especially with their demanding jobs.

One of the highlights of this visit was discussing the importance of developing and maintaining a good reputation for yourself, one that you can be proud of. Remembering to surround yourself with positive individuals who are going to lift you up, rather than drag you down.

While job hunting and looking for college recommendations you want to stand out and shine. Outstanding qualities like honesty, punctuality and good decision making are all highly sought after. This starts with the choice of how you represent yourself in school, in public and even when you think no one else is watching.

Each of our B Squad boys practiced a firm handshake and graciously thanked our two local heros! It was a great opportunity!

October 4, 2017 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, schools, education, news.

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Photos and write-ups provided by Batavia City Schools.

In recognition of his friendly manner and willingness to help out his fellow classmates, Batavia Middle School student Andrew Jursted was presented with an Outstanding Student Award by Batavia City School District Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Board meeting on Oct. 3.

He was nominated by Mr. Grillo, principal of Batavia Middle School, who wrote, “Andrew has helped with new students. He always has a smile on his face, and is a good role model. He offered to switch his locker to help another student be closer to his classes. He is a good friend and very helpful to his teachers.”

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In recognition of his valuable contribution to the administration, staff, and students of the District, Director of Health, Physical Education and Interscholastic Sports, Michael Bromley was presented with an Outstanding Staff Award by Batavia City School District Board Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Board meeting on Oct. 3.

He was nominated by Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey, who wrote, “Year in and year out, Mr. Bromley oversees one of the most accomplished athletic programs for young women and men in Section V and New York State.  Batavia City School District teams are regularly recognized for academic success, athletic championships, and sportsmanship. Mr. Bromley has worked for the District for 18 years, lives in the community, and can be seen at multiple athletic events both in and out of our District. Mr. Bromley is a great example of Taking Care of BCSD!”

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In recognition of their valuable contribution to the students of the Batavia City School District and the Youth Bureau’s Parks ProgramSusan Presher, on behalf of herself and her summer staff, was presented with an Outstanding Staff Award by Batavia City School District Board Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Board meeting on Oct. 3.

They were nominated by Coordinator of Assessment and Instructional Services Julia Rogers, who wrote, “Mrs. Presher applied for the USDA Grant (National Summer Food Service Program) this summer and was awarded it. This grant fed children (under the age of 18) breakfast and/or lunch at the District’s Extended Year and TEAM Literacy Programs, and the Youth Bureau's Parks Program (held at Lions, Lambert, John Kennedy, Farrell, and Williams Parks, as well as at the Youth Bureau). The variety of food offered and the ease of accessibility garnered the appreciation of the parents and children, as well as the entire staff of these programs. Students were able to focus on reading and math during Extended Year and TEAM Literacy because they were not focused on being hungry.”

October 3, 2017 - 8:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news, notify.

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When this year's seniors at Batavia High School are handed their diplomas this spring, they will see a familiar face, a face they've known since they were kindergarteners in the City School District -- Paul Kesler.

This winter, Kesler will end a 13-year run as the principal of John Kennedy School and become principal of Batavia High School. He was appointed to the new position tonight by the school board. He begins his new position Dec. 22, the first day of Winter Break.

His 16-year-old daughter, now a sophomore at BHS, but also once a student at JK, also approved of the move.

"I wasn't sure how she would react but she got a big smile on her face and she said, 'Dad, kids that went to John Kennedy, they still talk about John Kennedy. They really respect you.' So when your own daughter feels like it's a good thing, that's pretty confirming."

Kesler also got a ringing endorsement from Superintendent Chris Dailey during the board meeting. 

"You have a lot of people behind you," Dailey said. "You’re going to do great things. Your dedication to your community and your school is outstanding. We can only expect great results, so no pressure. But, hey, you do the great things you do here at John Kennedy at the high school, the high school will have the same kind of results we’ve seen here."

Kesler, originally from Utica, started his teaching career in Rochester. He was a kindergarten teacher, a second-grade teacher, a reading specialist and an instructional coach for three years before moving to Batavia.

He has a daughter who is a junior at Boston University, two children attending BHS, and a child who is a student at JK.

Two weeks ago, after setting aside all the prior principal applicants, the district hired Dennis Kenney as interim principal. His contract runs through Dec. 21.

Dailey said when the initial search for a new principal didn't turn up the perfect match, he thought about the criteria the district sought in a candidate and realized they already had the perfect candidate in the district with Kesler.

One hallmark of Kesler's oversight of JK is his promotion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and he's looking forward to continuing that effort at the high school level.

"I think you know we always have the instructional challenges of a small city district, especially in the performance of some economically disadvantaged students, particularly in the areas STEAM," Kesler said. "Those are some of the areas that are a challenge for any small city district. I'm excited about having that connection between what we do in the elementary school all the way up through high school."

There's really only one downside to moving to BHS, Kesler said -- leaving behind the staff and faculty at John Kennedy.

"I don't cry much but I was very close today as I told staff after school," Kesler said. These are just fantastic people. You know, they've been part of my family. My whole experience in 13 years in Batavia has been here. That's going to be the struggle, saying goodbye."

September 29, 2017 - 11:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, news, schools, education.

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Thursday night was open house for Batavia High School, with teachers on hand to provide parents information on homework, assignments, chances for college credit, classroom expectations, and to answer questions and show off students' work.

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September 28, 2017 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, batavia, City Schools, schools, education, news.

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The students at John Kennedy School raised $555 for new library books and Principal Paul Kessler paid the price.

As a "reward" for the students, Kessler spent the day in jail.

Students, such as third-grader Anthony Nesbitt, took turns as guards to ensure he didn't escape.

The pre-lunch crowd passing the jail was pretty merciless. "You stay locked up, Mr. Kessler," more than once said as they walked in their class lines.

"The kids are having fun with it," Kessler said. "So are some of the teachers."

September 24, 2017 - 10:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, education, college, news, GSO.

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This weekend GCC celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Cougar Crawl (visiting downtown businesses), homecoming activities, including a kids zone, a car cruise, and campus tour, and a Golden Gala capped by a performance of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

Photos Courtesy of Genesee Community College.

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