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July 23, 2015 - 6:02pm
posted by Traci Turner in alexander, education, Reunions.


Eight members of Alexander Central School's Class of 1940, along with family and friends, met to celebrate their 75th reunion at Bohn's Restaurant this afternoon.

Robert Meyers attended Alexander High School for two years and formed close friendships with his classmates.

"We were a small school with a graduating class of 36," Meyers said. "Everybody knew each other." 

According to Meyers,10 members are alive today.

Irene Johncox organized the reunion and enjoys catching up with her old classmates every year.

"The fact that we have stayed in touch all these years is great," Johncox said.

The class looks forward to next year's reunion.






July 22, 2015 - 1:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, GCC.

Press release:

Interested in a new career? Looking for a fast growing field with job stability and tasty benefits? Want to work in the local region? Enroll in the Intro to Food Processing Technology course (FPT101) at Genesee Community College this fall with a full scholarship valued at more than $600.

FPT is GCC's newest associate in applied science degree program. The College developed the course of study in response to the regional demand for skilled workers in food manufacturing. The New York State online job bank currently lists more than 500 openings in food-related occupations in the Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee County.

"We are continuously developing new academic programs that are focused on long-term career success," said Rafael Alicea-Maldonado, dean of Math, Science and Career Education at GCC. "The food sector is thriving in Western New York and we look forward to providing the industry with the highly trained workers it needs. These positions are local and offer attractive salaries and benefits."

Those interested in learning more about the program and scholarship can find information online at: or contact FPT instructor Greg Sharpe at 585-343-0055, ext. 6157, or [email protected].

The FPT101 course begins Sept. 21 with GCC's 12-week session.

Overall, GCC's fall semester with 15-week course session begins Aug. 24. Students can still register for hundreds of courses offered at all seven campus locations in Albion, Arcade, Batavia, Dansville, Lima, Medina and Warsaw, as well as online. Go to: or call 866-CALL-GCC.

To help students prepare for the start of the semester, the Batavia Campus offers New Student Orientation sessions. These sessions are designed to help students feel comfortable on campus, learn about academic and social opportunities and meet other students. Students can select from the remaining three sessions on Thursday, July 23, Thursday, July 30, or Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Each orientation runs from 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. with a variety of activities planned. A concurrent program is offered to help parents and family members become familiar with GCC and sign up for Cougar Kin, the E-newsletter just for family and friends of GCC students. To meet the Orientation leaders, watch the College's new online video available at:

July 21, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Announcements, education, The BEST Center, batavia.

Press release:

The BEST Center's Building Leadership Excellence Certificate Program is now forming a new cohort.

Building Leadership Excellence is an intensive, hands-on program designed to develop proven skills needed to manage, influence, create, inspire and LEAD organizations in today's dynamic economy. You will learn to think and act strategically, enhancing management performance and improving organizational skills in decision making, coaching, innovative problem solving and conflict resolution.
As a participant, you will work in an engaging and dynamic team environment. Upon completion of the course you will be able to:

  • Inspire subordinates to work to their full potential;
  • Communicate at an advanced level to better manage conflict;
  • Learn strategies to establish buy-in and ensure accountability;
  • Enhance your coaching skills;
  • Establish a lasting network of capable leader colleagues.

Each session is filled with real-life examples and practical techniques for getting results. Begin immediately applying leadership excellence at your job and in your life!

In today's fast moving, highly competitive marketplace, organizations require highly functioning, innovative leaders. To make the most of this opportunity -- ENROLL TODAY...the next cohort will kick off Thursday, Aug. 6.

Attendance is required in all of the eight half-day sessions scheduled Thursdays, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Session dates are: 8/13, 8/20, 9/3, 9/17, 10/1, 10/15, 10/29 and 11/5. Graduation presentations will occur on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Seating is limited.
For more information call 585-345-6868 or
e-mail Lauren Cummings at [email protected]

July 21, 2015 - 3:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, GCC, social media.

Press release:

From friends to followers, tweets to YouTube, Snapchats to YikYaks -- future students at Genesee Community College will one day have the opportunity to study all the nuances of social media marketing. The College's Board of Trustees has approved a new Social Media concentration within the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) Business Administration degree.

With the Board's approval, the program will now be submitted to the State University of New York for approval, and later to the New York State Education Department. The College expects the program to available in the Fall of 2016.

The new concentration will provide GCC students interested in business careers with a third option -- one which focuses on the cutting-edge business, marketing and communication methodologies that predominant in today's global marketplace.

The new 62-credit concentration builds from the existing Business Administration curriculum, which provides a strong foundation in business and marketing principles, professional sales, computer applications and a selection of nine elective credits.

New Communication Technologies (COM120) and Introduction to Creative Problem Solving (CPS101) are among the courses Social Media students will take along with: Principles of Marketing (BUS213), Advertising (BUS203), Entrepreneurship (BUS225), Intro to Computers or Microcomputer Applications (CIS102 or 116), Web Publishing (CIS113) and Web Design and Implementation (CIS204).

"We've seen a number of students opt into courses that provide them the most modernized business program giving them a strategic advantage for a cutting-edge business career," said Kathleen Schiefen, Ph.D., GCC's provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs.

"Built around the same basic business administration coursework, these students will focus on the marketing uses of social media-such as search engines, and become technically competent using the strategic advantage of cutting-edge business degree."

GCC's Business and Commerce division currently includes the following programs: Accounting; Business Administration; Business Administration: Supply Chain Management concentration; Economic Crime Investigation; Entrepreneurship; four Fashion Business programs in: E-Commerce, Event Planning, Fashion Design, and Fashion Merchandising Management; Sales and Customer Service; and Tourism and Hospitality Management. All of the programs are open to new students of all ages, and can begin this fall semester, which starts Aug. 24.

In other business, the Board of Trustees heard a positive report from Kevin Hamilton, vice president for Finance and Operations, on the status of summer construction work for the capital project. Currently, the project involving the complete renovation of the cafeteria at the Batavia Campus and some updates at the College Bookstore is on schedule with completion targeted before the start of the fall semester.

July 18, 2015 - 3:30pm
posted by Traci Turner in education, elba.

A nonprofit corporation called We R 3C a has devised a curriculum using different techniques to teach students the value of respect and skills needed to create caring communities. 

Robert Purifico, president of We R 3C, and Bart Dentino, program founder, believe school administrators are looking under the wrong rock when it comes to teaching students character education and development. As an alternative to many of the behavior programs that are based on extrinsic forms of motivation such as rewards, Purifico and Dentino, who both come from educational backgrounds, launched the We R 3C curriculum. 

It focuses on developing pro-social behaviors through intrinsic motivation. The goal is to teach students to develop an understanding of values such as respect, empathy and forgiveness. According to Dentino, once students are able to understand and find the value in one another, they will become intrinsically motivated and sincere in their demonstrations.

“Kids learn pro-social behaviors, understand it and do acts of kindness, not for a reward, but because it is an appropriate concrete operational social behavior that they demonstrate 365 days a year,” Purifico said.

The foundation of the curriculum is based on the work of three psychologists, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg and Benjamin Bloom. Using principles from their research, the process-based curriculum moves students through the moral stages of development from the egocentric stage to the concrete operational stage.

The first part, "beginnings," teaches children in kindergarten through second grade how to start considering the world outside their ego. The lessons teach the children to think about others around them.

The second part teaches students in grades three through 12 how to understand the value in someone and demonstrate it in the community. The curriculum is divided into five themes, which include the meaning of respect, fixing a problem, self-respect, bullying and communities within communities. Each theme has several lessons and the lessons are broken into approximately 30 learning blocks. In the learning blocks, all of the presentations and activities are written out for teachers.

Dentino has taught several piloting lessons at Elba Central School District.

Dentino recalls talking about a bully during a learning block he taught to a fifth-grade class. He started off the conversation by asking the class what they knew about the boy who was bullying the students. The students shared that his mom works two jobs and his dad is a truck driver who he only sees two weekends a month. Dentino then asked the students how the boy felt and they mentioned how he really missed his dad.

"I looked at one of the girls in the back and she had her head down and I asked her what's the matter," Dentino said. "She responded I feel so sad for him."

From discussing the situation, the students began to empathize with the boy and that understanding made it easier to forgive him. To heal the relationship with the boy, Dentino told the class they had two weeks to let him know he matters.

When Dentino came back, the students shared their stories. One student told of an experience he had with the boy while playing baseball during gym class.

"When the boy came to the plate the student yelled to the pitcher 'you better pitch well to him because he is a really good hitter,' " Dentino said. "This student didn't get a reward for saying it. It was intrinsically motivated behavior to demonstrate kindness to someone whose only relationship to him up to that point was the boy hurting him."

The curriculum has also proven to be beneficial for students at the Lyndonville Middle-High School in grades seven through 12 last school year. Superintendent Jason Smith has received positive feedback from both teachers and students.

"The students thought the curriculum was well needed and the lessons were well run, Smith said. "Students were anxious to have conversations about value, respect and community and teachers commented the lessons proved to be effective as well."

Principal Aaron Slack believes the curriculum is less procedural and rule-based like some other behavior programs. Students learn important skills they can use beyond the classroom.

"The curriculum teaches students how to value others and to look at differences in others as an asset," Slack said.

Due to the success of the curriculum at the middle and high school levels, the district will start using the curriculum at the elementary school level in September.

Dentino's goal is to raise awareness for the curriculum and gauge the interest of as many educators as possible. He is currently working on full implementation of the curriculum at Elba Central School District. School districts that are interested in implementation receive an extensive training workshop and all the curriculum materials.

In addition to New York, Purifico is working on implementing the program in New Jersey and Tennessee. Purifico hopes the curriculum will be used as a character educational tool in schools nationwide in the future.

July 8, 2015 - 8:22am
posted by Traci Turner in Le Roy, American Legion Auxiliary Le Roy, education.


Jamie Englerth, senior at Le Roy High School, learned how to state her case in court and participate in government elections at Empire Girls State last week.

The Empire Girls State is an educational workshop where girls from all over the state are selected to partake in political processes at the county and state levels. The girls are divided into groups to represent 11 counties and each county is assigned to the Nationalist or Federalist Party. They participate in a variety of activities including court cases, political campaigns and debates.

Englerth's favorite activity was assuming the role of district attorney in her county's court cases. She got the opportunity to learn how to build a solid case and prosecute crime. She won all four of her cases.  

During the program, she also learned how to write bills and participate in a caucus. Four girls from each county were nominated to run for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller. All the nominees gave speeches on why they would be the best candidate for the position. Then all the caucuses met and voted. 

"It was an awesome experience and I wish every girl could have because you learn so much and make so many friendships that will last you a lifetime," Englerth said.

More than 300 girls attended the weeklong workshop at the College at Brockport. The program is sponsored by the New York American Legion Auxiliary.

Englerth was chosen by the American Legion Auxiliary Le Roy Botts Fiorito Unit 576. Teachers at Le Roy High School first picked the top three candidates to be interviewed by the auxiliary. Then the auxiliary picked Englerth as its top choice. Only a handful of girls are chosen to participate from Genesee County.

At school, she is a member of the National Honor Society and plays basketball and soccer. Outside of school she volunteers at local triathlons, American Legion dinners and the Open Door Mission.

In the future, Englerth plans to study pre-law and Social Sciences at a four-year college and continue onto law school to fulfill her dream of becoming a district attorney for special victims.

"Women and children voices in court are often lost, especially children, and they need people to advocate for them," Englerth said. "People are always worried about what is going to happen to the person who did the crime, but I want to know what happens to the kids.

"I would be thinking about sentencing the person that hurts them and making sure they get what they deserve but I also would be thinking about what is going to happen to the kids or women after."

July 2, 2015 - 10:42am
posted by Traci Turner in Jackson School, batavia, education.


The landscaping in front of Jackson School is being ripped out this week to make room for a new bus loop that City Schools Superintendent Chris Daily said will improve transportation safety for students.

The project means some grand old trees in front of the school are now gone, but Daily said new trees will be planted as part of the project.

Besides the trees, so far, the sidewalks have also been jackhammered and hauled away.

The project should be completed by Sept. 1.

In addition to the bus loop, new locks and classroom bathrooms will be installed at the school.

The construction is a part of the district’s $3.8 million capital project that was approved three years ago. 

June 26, 2015 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, batavia, City Schools, education, schools.


It was a big day for the students at Jackson School. They moved up a grade, receiving certificates of continuation from administrators during a ceremony in the Batavia High School auditorium.





June 23, 2015 - 7:15pm
posted by Traci Turner in st. joseph school, education, Batavia Kiwanis Club.


After raising money all year long, the Kiwanis K-Kids Club presented checks to the YWCA and Genesee County Child Advocacy Center this afternoon. The children selected a total of six organizations to receive donations. The other organizations were Strong Memorial Hospital's Cardiac Unit, Golisano Children's Hospital, Smile Train and Genesee County Animal Shelter.

The children raised money through various fundraisers including selling flowers, candy-grams and pies.

The extracurricular club focuses on serving the community and the school population. Mary Case, a first-grade teacher at St. Joseph School, is the club's advisor.


The children presenting a check to Jeanne Walton, executive director of the YWCA. They raised $98 for the YWCA.


The club presenting a check to Anne Bezon, supervisor of the Genesee County Child Advocacy Center. They raised $100 for the center.

June 22, 2015 - 4:10pm
posted by Traci Turner in Batavia High School, prom, education.


(Jarrett Laskett, Shontee Allis and Allison Della Penna. Photo taken by Laura Tenebruso.)

It was Batavia senior Allison Della Penna's plan all along to give her crown to Shontee Allis, a senior with Down Syndrome, if she was named Batavia High School's 2015 Prom Queen on Saturday night.

When Della Penna was announced as Senior Prom Queen, she immediately went up on stage and declared Allis to take her place.

"I knew it would make her so happy and it doesn't really mean anything to me," Della Penna said. "I mean it's nice that people wanted to vote for me but it's something that she is going to remember for the rest of her life."

Allis was all smiles when Della Penna, her friend, called her up on stage and put the crown on her head. She had always dreamed of being named prom queen.

"I was excited," Allis said. "It's good to be queen."


( Allison Della Penna crowning Shontee Allis. Photo taken by Laura Tenebruso.)

Principal Scott Wilson has been to more than 40 proms and has never seen anything like it.

"It was absolutely wonderful," Wilson said. "I have never been a part of such a great group of kids and Allison just represented them so well. It was a very selfless thing to do."

Laura Tenebruso, English teacher and senior class advisor, has known Della Penna since she was in middle school and wasn't surprised when she made the selfless act because that is just the kind of person she is.

"Allison is a loving, giving and compassionate person," Tenebruso said.

After Allis was named Prom Queen, she and Prom King Jarrett Laskett danced to her favorite "Frozen" theme song, "Let It Go."

Allis told Della Penna she couldn't wait to watch "Frozen" and dance with her crown on. According to Allis's younger sister, Summer Mims-Allis, she wears the crown everywhere she goes.

Della Penna and Allis became friends on the school's senior trip last week. Della Penna really clicked with Allis's funny and friendly personality.

"She is always so happy and that is something that I really liked," Della Penna said. "She always wants to make sure everyone is happy and smiling. Everyone should have just a tiny bit of her happiness."

Nancy Brandon, Allis's mom, was amazed by how great the senior class has been to her daughter.

"The senior class has literally took Shontee underneath their arms and just made her feel so special," Brandon said. 

According to Wilson, Batavia High School has a saying "take care of BHS by taking care of others" and he feels Della Penna has really done that by honoring Allis as Prom Queen.

June 19, 2015 - 9:55pm
posted by Traci Turner in Jackson Primary School, education.




With the hard work of all the first-graders and their reading efforts, the animals were able to get back to their normal habitats at the Jackson Zoo today.

Faculty dressed up as zookeepers and animals to put on a closing play and reward students for their reading achievements. With everyone’s help, the zoo was back to normal.

The play was a part of the Parents as Reading Partners program, which began on March 16 with a challenge for students. Faculty put on an opening play showing the zoo animals had gone wild. The animals were eating the wrong foods and living in the wrong places. The zookeepers asked students to help them solve the problem.

To help zoo animals get back to their normal habitat, students were required to read at home for 15 minutes every night. Students had to get a ticket signed by a parent once they completed their reading and return it to school every day.

During the program, the students read a total of 441,000 minutes. For all their effort, they were rewarded with prizes and received a new book to take home at the end of the play.

Heather Landers, first-grade special education teacher, organized the play.

“The program aligned with the curriculum so kids could connect what they were learning in class to the reading,” Landers said. “The kids got excited about reading and loved the play.”

The play was one of many reading incentives students participated in. Other events included a Family Reading Night, Fairytale event and reading with members of the Genesee County Bar Association.

Principal Diane Bonarigo has been thrilled with her students’ reading progress.

“I’m so excited 80 percent of our children are reading at grade level or above,” Bonarigo said. “I have seen the children significantly improve in reading this year.”

Bonarigo hopes children will continue reading and be lifelong learners.


June 13, 2015 - 5:28pm


(Photo: Edwin Cooney)

Members of the New York State School for the Blind Alumni Association met for their annual reunion to recall memories with their schoolmates and reinforce their connection to the school. The opening ceremony was in the auditorium at Severne Hall last night.

Tom Flaherty, vice president of the alumni association, led the ceremony. Barbara Lemen, NYSSB superintendent, gave a speech about the school’s recent efforts to increase educational opportunities for current students.

Following Lemen, Edwin Cooney, president of the alumni association, shared history of the school through a trivia game he created. Winners received prizes including key chains and soil from the school grounds.

Cooney thought the soil would help bring back fond memories alumni made at the school. He remembers when he first attended kindergarten there in 1950 like it was yesterday.

“There were 16 boys and 16 girls in the old kindergarten building,” Cooney said. “We were in big dorms and there was a bed in each corner. You could fit 16 beds in the room so it was all very communal and very new for most of us.”

Cooney adapted to the culture quickly but felt isolated from the rest of the Batavia community. When he graduated in 1966, it took him a while to adjust socially at college because he never had the experience of going to a public school.

“Some of us were shocked when we went to college and found some people were afraid of us,” Cooney said.

Diane Scalzi, corresponding secretary for the alumni association, first attended the school in February 1957 but left three years later to attend public school. Her experience at public school helped her socially to interact with sighted students but she was concerned she wouldn’t have equal educational opportunities. As a result, in 1960 she returned to the school and graduated in 1971.

“I was worried that if I went to public school I would not get gym classes, Home Economics classes and mobility,” Scalzi said. “I was able to get through college and have a career because of my education at the school.”

Chet Smalley, treasurer of the alumni association, was in fourth grade when he came to the school in 1964 and graduated in 1973. He participated in student council, the Key Club and wrestling.

“The evolution that those of us at NYSSB were able to experience was the fact that we were able to grow up as ‘normal’ children because our blindness was incidental,” Smalley said. “We did everything else that normal children could do and that was the beauty of the school.”


(From left: Diane Scalzi, Linda Smalley, Chet Smalley and Edwin Cooney)

Tonight the association will have its annual banquet and Sunday members will hold a memorial service to remember alumni who have passed away.

Moving forward, alumni officers are planning the association’s 100th-anniversary celebration in 2018. The officers are working with Lemen to help encourage more graduates to join the alumni association. They hope recent graduates will show interest in becoming members.

“We don’t have a member in the association that is under 50 years old,” Cooney said. “We need to acquire more members because we are getting old and need to start caring for each other.”

The alumni association has also expanded its eligibility to allow graduate’s spouses to become members. The association hopes by working with the community they can continue their legacy and pass their memories onto future generations.

June 13, 2015 - 1:30pm
posted by Traci Turner in pembroke high school, education.


(Photo: Eric Johnson)

Eric Johnson, visual arts instructor at Pembroke High School, strives to teach his students principles of design so they can apply it to real world experiences. 

Johnson has been teaching a variety of art, design and photography classes at the school for 14 years. He rotates teaching different art classes with Rebecca Schuler, the school's other visual arts instructor.

"I try to tie things they learn with the work world so they don't think art lives in a bubble," Johnson said. "I want them to realize most of what is around us has been created by someone in the art field in some capacity."

A recent project Johnson assisted his students with was designing the new Village of Corfu signs. Last school year the village board asked the school if they would be willing to have students complete the project. Johnson first introduced the project to his advanced drawing and painting students and they came up with sketch ideas. After narrowing down 50 sketches he received from the students, he gave 30 sketches to the village board to review over the summer. The board selected different designs for the four new signs. Emily Verdaasdonk, senior, created three of the designs and Nicole Franclemont, senior, made the fourth design.

In September, Verdaasdonk and Franclemont, and four other seniors, Sabrina Sanner, Nikita Harding, Morgan Smykowski and Bailey Groth, started drawing and painting the signs. The project was not a part of any class so Johnson helped the girls, who worked on the signs during lunches and study halls all year long.

"The students were invested in their designs," Johnson said. "The project was like their baby so they came and religiously worked on it."

The signs were just completed a few weeks ago and will be up soon.

In addition to the sign project, Johnson selects students' art projects to be showcased in seven or eight local art shows every year. In the last few years, Johnson has noticed his students have been winning awards at local art shows.

"I think Pembroke has created a reputation at some of these art shows because students have been taking first and second place for two and three years in a row," Johnson said.

In this year's GO! Art Show, 12 students had their work featured including Verdaasdonk's ceramic tree. The ceramic piece was fired in a kiln Johnson and his students built out of a garbage can.

Johnson's favorite part about teaching is knowing when one of his students is truly in love with their artwork and is proud of it. He has been passionate about art since he was a child. He grew up in North Tonawanda with his parents and two brothers. 

"My father and I would make books together," Johnson said. "He would help me write and I would illustrate them."

One of Johnson's professors encouraged him to become a teacher so he could help students practice art. He holds an associate degree in the visual arts from Niagara County Community College and a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Buffalo. He earned his master's degree and teaching certification from Buffalo State College.

He currently lives in the Town of Tonawanda with his wife and two children. In his free time he enjoys creating sculptures and digital photography. In the future, he would like to have his own art show. 

June 12, 2015 - 9:03am
posted by Traci Turner in Notre Dame, schools, education.

Notre Dame High School ranks in the Buffalo Business First's top 15 percent of all secondary high schools in Western New York for eight consecutive years.

For 2015, Notre Dame ranked 17th out of 136 secondary high schools in WNY. The school was also rated the No. 1 secondary school in Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties and No. 1 private catholic coeducational high school in WNY for eight consecutive years.

In athletics, the Fighting Irish interscholastic athletic program ranked 10th for two consecutive years and No. 1 in Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties.

"I have to stay that I'm very proud of our students," Principal Joseph Scanlan said. "They work very hard and you don't get to achieve those kind of accomplishments without hard work. I'm proud of our teachers, faculty and staff. They have high expectations and encourage our students to do the best and it's paying off."

Every year Business First ranks schools based on academic performance. All the schools are judged in areas including regents exam scores, graduation rates and levels of diplomas.

For math and science regents' scores, the school received a 5 out of 5 recognition. For English regents scores, the school received a 4 out of 5 recognition.

"The tradition has been students are going to come here and do a good job in school and their going to be leaders and give back to the community," Scanlan said. "Put all those things together and they line up with results like we got."

Notre Dame's Class of 2015 Valedictorian Abigail Bleier and Salutatorian Natalie Moulton were ranked in the top 100 academic students in WNY. Each of the 40 graduating students are headed off to college and received $4.5 million in scholarships.

Other high schools in Genesee County that were in the top 100 high school ranking included Oakfield-Alabama, Elba, Alexander, Byron-Bergen, Pavilion, Batavia and Le Roy. For a complete list of all the high school rankings, click here.

June 11, 2015 - 4:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, scholarships, education.

Press release:

The Janice & Paul Keesler Scholarship Fund is proud to announce that it is now accepting applications from qualified students toward receiving scholarship assistance.

As a living memorial for two people who loved New York State and the outdoors, this fund assists students training in the field of wildlife management.

Paul and Janice were avid sports persons who wrote and lectured about the outdoors and founded and published the nationally recognized and respected "New York Sportsman Magazine."

A great loss to all those who appreciate the wonder of nature, Janice passed away suddenly in 1988 and Paul in July of 2005. They are greatly missed.

According to Scholarship Fund President Dave Hamilton, "These annual scholarship awards are available to any New York State resident who has been accepted into an accredited institution of higher learning and is, or will be, working toward obtaining a degree in some facet of wildlife management."

The 23rd series of Janice & Paul Keesler Scholarship Awards will be distributed in December. To date, the fund has had the honor of distributing more than $29,500 in grants to deserving Wildlife Management students.

Any qualified individual interested in applying for these Scholarships may do so by sending a request for an application form, along with a stamped, self-addressed legal sized (#10) envelope to:

The Janice & Paul Keesler Scholarship Fund
C/o Bridget Keesler (sec/treas)
PO Box 485
Newport, NY 13416

An application may also be obtained by going to and the application can be printed from the Web site. The completed application form must be returned to the committee no later than Sept. 1.

Individuals or clubs wishing to make a contribution to the fund may do so by sending their donation to the same address, with the sincere gratitude of the Scholarship Committee! In December of this year and continuing on an annual basis, a wonderful couple who cared deeply about our state's outdoor sports will be remembered in a meaningful way, thanks to the generosity of those same outdoor sportsmen.

For additional information about the Keesler Scholarship Fund, please visit this Web site:

Or send inquiries to:
[email protected]

June 11, 2015 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, pembroke, education.

Press release:

The Elba Central School District’s Board of Education anticipates appointing Keith Palmer as the district’s next Superintendent at a special board meeting on Friday, June 12. Palmer is set to begin on July 1.

“I look forward to working with the Elba Board, faculty, students and community to develop strong relationships as we work together to deliver the District’s vision and mission," Palmer said. "Our first priority is the education of our students as we focus on curriculum and instruction. This will enhance our students’ academic achievement as we work together to meet the district’s academic and financial goals."

Tony Zambito, Elba Central School District Board president said, “The Board is confident in selecting Mr. Palmer to lead Elba Central Schools. His professional background, along with a deep understanding of many aspects of educational leadership, makes him an excellent fit for the staff and students of the District. The search process narrowed the field to three excellent candidates. The Board values all of the participation and input from stakeholders and community members and is committed and proud of this decision.”

Palmer is currently the principal of Pembroke Central High School where he has served since 2003. Previously, he served as assistant principal at Kendall High School, a position he held for 12 years.

Palmer has 16 years experience in the educational field. Palmer began his career in 1987 as a math and computer science teacher at North Warren Central School in the Adirondacks. He also taught at the Washington Correctional Facility located in Comstock for two summers in both 1988 and 1990.

Palmer holds a bachelor of arts from Houghton College, and a master’s degree from SUNY Plattsburgh. He holds three New York State (NYS) Certifications, a NYS School District Administrator, a NYS School Administrator and Supervisor Certificate and a NYS School Business Administrator Certificate.

Palmer’s career encompasses a variety of leadership accomplishments including developing Professional Learning Communities to build school/family communication and maintaining effective relations with union leadership.

June 11, 2015 - 3:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, BEST Center, Announcements, education.

The BEST Center at Genesee Community College is offering a series of "Brush up Your Skills" courses for students who plan to begin their college studies this fall. These non-academic credit classes in Math, Writing and Reading cost no more than $15 and are designed to help students increase their placement test scores and enable registration into higher-level courses. This not only potentially saves students tuition dollars, but also improves the likelihood of timely graduation.

The courses are geared toward incoming freshmen who may not have performed as well as expected on the COMPASS Placement Test, and also for high school graduates of all ages who may be beginning college after being out of school for some time. Current GCC students continuing their studies are also eligible. After completing the Brush Up courses, students retake the placement tests to potentially improve their scores and also eliminate the need to take developmental courses in these subject areas.

The three courses being offered include:

Math Pre-Algebra Placement Test Review, $15, July 21 – Aug. 12, Wednesdays, 6 – 9 p.m.
Brush up on the seven pre-algebra topics assessed by the COMPASS placement test so you can place directly into basic algebra or a credit-bearing college math course. Students may retake the COMPASS exam at the end of the course.

Writing Placement Test Review, $10, Monday – Thursday, Aug.10-13, 9 a.m. – noon
Review basic writing skills so you're prepared for college-level academic writing. The course will cover basic concepts including essay structure, sentence mechanics and test-taking strategies. Students may retake the COMPASS exam at the end of the course.

Reading Placement Test Review, $10, Monday – Thursday, Aug. 10-13, 1 – 4 p.m.
This course is designed to help those students who are close to meeting the college level reading requirement enhance the effective and efficient reading skills they need for academic work on the college level. These students have tested into the developmental class Gaining Power in College Reading (REA 101), but will be able to retest at the end of the course.

"We understand that placement testing is often the hardest and most intimidating part of starting a college program," said Reid Smalley, the executive director of GCC's BEST Center. "In a collaborative effort with our BEST Center, we specifically designed the Brush Up Your Skills Series to help students over this hurdle. For anyone who wants to start college in September, or those who hope to graduate through an associate degree program within two years, this is an excellent investment of their time."

Students interested in these classes may register in the GCC Records office, at The BEST Center in the Conable Technology Building on the Batavia campus, or online at For more information, contact The BEST Center at (585) 345-6868.

June 11, 2015 - 1:24pm
posted by Traci Turner in byron-bergen, education, schools.


 Byron-Bergen Superintendent of Schools Casey Kosiorek (left) and the WNY Video Recording Coaching Institute’s Executive Director Jim Thompson (right) at their recent presentation for the TeachLivE conference at the University of Central Florida.

Press release:

Teachers throughout the region will have a new professional development resource, thanks to a collaboration between the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) and the Byron-Bergen Central School District. The Western New York Video Recording Coaching Institute will incorporate a proven video-coaching model with a groundbreaking virtual-classroom simulator, TeachLivE™, which allows educators to develop and improve their teaching practices in a safe environment.

The new institute will be headed by Executive Director Jim Thompson, who has led the development of BBCSD’s own successful Instructional Coaching initiative since 2013. He and Byron-Bergen’s Superintendent of Schools Casey Kosiorek recently made a presentation at the National TeachLivE Conference at the University of Central Florida to educators from across the country, who were there to learn about this innovative approach to professional development.

Kosiorek credits the GVEP’s District Superintendent Kevin MacDonald for supporting the Institute’s vision.

“Mr. MacDonald has shown unwavering support for this initiative, and his support has made this a reality,” he said. “This is a great approach to support teachers in becoming the best they can be. We are very excited to be hosting it here, and helping to make these services available to teachers in our entire area. Ultimately, this is a huge benefit, not just for the teachers, but also for all of their students.” 

TeachLivE is a computer-simulated, mixed-reality classroom. Teachers step into this virtual classroom and within a minute experience immersion and suspension of disbelief, allowing them to rehearse high-leverage teaching practices related to student achievement. Much like a flight simulator for pilots, TeachLivE simulates a classroom experience for teachers to hone their skills.

The tool will be combined with individual coaching, role-playing, model lessons and videotaping of lessons. The Institute’s program is designed to guide teachers, using a style that is highly interactive, supportive, and reflective.

“Everyone can get better; this is not just for new teachers, or superstars,” Kosiorek said. “No matter where a teacher is, they can be better. We’d like to see every teacher at Byron-Bergen get involved in Instructional Coaching within the next three years.”


The new WNY Video Recording Coaching Institute will offer teachers a rich professional development experience, complete with individualized video coaching, and a safe environment for teaching improvement in TeachLivE’s simulated classroom environment.

June 10, 2015 - 1:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Special Olympics, sports, batavia, schools, education.


A group of runners, including several members of the local law enforcement community, carried the Special Olympic Torch from Elba to the Genesee ARC building on Walnut Street, Batavia, this morning. Along the way, they stopped at the Batavia School District's fourth-grade track meet on Woodward Field.

Above, Garrett Schmidt and Avelin Tomidy get ready to assist Deputy Joseph Corona in carrying the torch for a lap around the track.


Carl talks about what Special Olympics means to him and how he won three medals at a recent competition.


Dave Chua


The runners approaching Van Detta Stadium.


Completing the lap around the track.

June 6, 2015 - 8:01pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in batavia, education, alexander, Warsaw, events.



The last text he sent, before hitting an Amish buggy with three children inside, was "I love you" to his wife. He's not even sure if he was looking at the road at the time of the accident. The next thing he knew, the windshield shattered and when he stopped, a person rolled off the roof of his van and onto the hood.

Debbie was struck by a teen who was texting while getting her mail from her roadside mailbox. She now has limited mobility, memory loss and other health issues. The accident left her entirely dependent on relatives. Debbie doesn't remember the accident at all. She went from being active to inactive in a just a second. 

“I made the choice that texting was more important to me than those two men were to their families,” said a young man. “That accident was preventable. I just had to put my phone away and drive.”

These stories and others were shown to Alexander and Warsaw high school students Friday during the Save a Life, Alcohol Awareness tour program at Alexander High School. The presentation, given by tour manager Clay Martin, is to put a spotlight on what drivers do in their cars -- it matters, even if there are no passengers.

“There's no message that would be worth picking up that phone,” Martin said. “Remember, many people may not get a chance to see these videos, but if you make it a point to remember, the avalanche of waiting until it's safe to write that text will propel and maybe it will start a chain of safer driving.”

The Save A Life Tour is a comprehensive high-impact, safe-driving awareness program that informs, educates and demonstrates the potentially deadly consequences resulting from poor choices and decisions made by a driver. The program specifically places emphasis on distracted and impaired driving, driver experience, improper driver behavior, and seat belt usage. The Department of Defense, as well as the Connecticut and Rhode Island departments of transportation, also use this program.

“All good driving begins with making simple habits,” Martin said. “Most people pick up their cell phone at a stop light, but most accidents occur at an intersection. You have to be prepared and pay attention. You have to be aware of not only your actions but those who are around you as well.”

Just a few seconds of distraction can take you the distance of a football field when driving at 55 mph. According to Martin, a drunk driver has driven 327 times before something happens. In 2012, a total of 3,326 people died in distracted-driving-related accidents and more than 421,000 people sustained injuries.

Alcohol has an amazing way of blurring the consequences, Martin told the teens. “Alcohol gets silly names like 'liquid courage' and 'beer muscles', but what it really does is put a barrier between you and a rational choice.

“There is a list of people in your phone that you can call for a ride,” Martin said. “I bet if you start in the As, by the time you reach the Cs you could have someone willing to pick you up on Christmas Day during a snowstorm.”

Not only did the students view a presentation, two simulators were set up for them to try to experience what it was like when the driver is distracted behind the wheel or has been drinking.

“It was hard to do,” said Alexander Middle/High School Principal Shannon Whitcomb. “It got more difficult as I kept going.”

“I think it has an impact. I don't know that we can determine how much, but you can tell by the attentiveness of our students that they were learning from the presentation and hopefully help them with choices in their future,” said Alexander School Superintendent Kathleen Maerten. “It’s providing education in a realistic manner. The experiential part is certainly important. The stories shared on the video have an impact as well. I think his point is that, even if you're not the driver and you're the passenger, you can advise the driver. The responsibility is not only in the hands of the driver it's the passengers as well.” 

Alexander High School senior Raven Quackenbush said “The scariest thing about it is something happening to my family. I’d rather it happen to me, than the ones I care about.”

“I have texted when I was driving and I swerved, but I don't do that anymore,” said Alexander senior Jessica Meyers. “I'm so aware of what I'm doing that it's not worth it. When you're driving with other people that are in your car, you're responsible for their lives. I appreciate it when parents trust me.”

Quackenbush said: “You have to ask yourself -- 'Is this more important than my life?' It's not too hard to say hey, can you check that for me. You can pull over for five seconds.” 

The Alexander Central School Parent Teacher Association sponsored the program as a way to remind students to make good decisions.

“It’s especially important because our prom is next weekend,” said Alexander Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) student President Hunter Doran. “We know that there will be those who decide to drink.”

“We just want them to be safe,” said SADD Advisor Shawnie Woeller. “You're not always going to hit them all. I've been doing this for so long that it use to bother me, but I have to take the stand that if we can affect one kid’s life, it does make a difference.”

“It resonates with me every time I watch this,” Doran said. “I don't ever want to have to deal with it, but the possibility is that I may have to. I want to educate myself as much as possible. 

I have no problem telling someone to stop. I see these people every day, I don't want them to end up in a hospital because of it (distracted/drunk driving).” 

“I want to be an example,” Woeller said. “I want to remind kids that there is a way to have fun, but you have to know when to stop."

According to Whitcomb, the kids can make the connection between the selfishness of taking their phone out to text while driving. Any way getting the word out works, different presentations affect different kids.

“I don't think we give kids enough credit,” Whitcomb said. “We just need to give them the information and trust the will make good choices.”

“Other families matter, too,” said Warsaw High School Junior Ashley Scott. “I wouldn’t get in a vehicle with anyone drinking, I would take their keys away.”

“I think it’s cool that they gave the stories and then let the kids use the simulators,” said Warsaw ELA teacher Jen Smith. “They way they set this up was perfect. Even though our prom is over with, the summer is starting and you have grad parties. It’s a good way to end the year as a reminder. 

“This should also be shown to adults. It would be a benefit. I don't think you can get enough of stuff like this,” Smith said. “I wonder if people even really think about it until it affects their community or family.”

According to SRO officer at Warsaw Central School Tim McGinnis, it’s a good barometer of what can happen if a driver decides to text or drink and drive. McGinnis agrees that it absolutely makes the kids see a reality of what can happen. While he said that it sometimes may take time for the information to really hit them and sink in, he’s hoping it is a deterrent to poor choices, which can have long-term effects on everyone.

“It helped me realize that it can impact more than just a driver,” said Warsaw junior Nate McGuire. “I felt sorry for them at first. It shows the impact of one very small moment and how it can impact the rest of their lives.”

“My favorite feedback I get is when the kids come back and tell me they had a conversation about this in another class,” Martin said. “That's what we want the kids to do, get talking about it. Those stories represent the people who are affected.”

“It’s not even tempting for me to drink if I’m going to drive,” Quackenbush said.

“I don’t care what people think if I don’t drink,” Meyers said.

Both girls said there is so much more to do with their time.

For more information about the program visit








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