Local Matters

Community Sponsors


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.

September 5, 2012 - 3:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, GCC, alumni, roz steiner, art.

Press release:

Amid the joy of reuniting with friends and professors, the big hair and '80s tribute bands, and the great food and good times that will mark Homecoming at Genesee Community College in September, will be inspiring artwork created by GCC alumni.

The Roz Steiner Art Gallery will showcase a variety of media from talented graduates: digital photography, nature paintings, ceramics, realistic portraiture, serigraphs and watercolors, photography and multimedia works.

The exhibitors for the Alumni Exhibition include:

Amanda J. Adams, from the GCC class of 2007, is a digital photographer and certified art educator. She earned her associate degree in Fine Arts after graduating from Greece Athena High School. In 2009, Adams completed her bachelor's degree in Art Education, and is currently working toward a master's degree in Art Education from Nazareth College in Rochester.

Briana Coogan-Bassett was raised in Warsaw in a family of artists. Her collection of nature paintings brings to light the plight of endangered animals. Coogan-Bassett earned a Fine Arts associate degree from GCC in 2009, where she says she "learned basic photo developing skills, hand building techniques, how to construct and prepare a canvas, and the importance of drawing what you see." Her work has been featured in solo exhibits with both the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts and the Arts Council for Wyoming County.

Megan Dembinski is ceramist from the GCC class of 2009 who lives in Silver Springs. After completing her studies at Genesee, Dembinski earned a bachelor's degree in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from SUNY Geneseo in 2011. The Arts Council for Wyoming County awarded her the Rising Star Scholarship, which included a solo exhibition and a booth at the Letchworth Arts and Crafts Show and Sale. Dembinski plans to pursue a master's degree in either Art Conservation or Art Education.

Heather Gleason, from Elba, focuses on historical photographs in creating her realistic portraits. She earned an associate degree in Fine Arts from GCC in 2009 and then completed a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art from SUNY Brockport in 2011.

Chris Held has spent most of his life in Leicester, where the rural community has shaped his collection of watercolors and serigraphs featuring nature scenes. Held graduated from GCC in 2003 with an associate degree, and completed his bachelor's degree from SUNY Geneseo in 2008. He was the first recipient of the Rising Star Scholarship Award from the Arts Council for Wyoming County.

Michael Mulley is a Batavia native who owns the College Street Gallery in the historic Allentown District of Buffalo. The freelance photographer earned his associate degree in communications in 1988 and completed a bachelor's degree in Fine Art Photography from RIT in 1991. Mulley's photos have been published in The Buffalo News Sunday Magazine, Buffalo Spree magazine, Artvoice, Hallwalls' publications, The Art Laboratory of Berlin and the jazz magazine Coda.

Mary Jo Whitman graduated from GCC in 2009 with an associate degree in Fine Arts. She uses a variety of materials to produce interesting and meaningful two- and three-dimensional artworks. Whitman is currently working toward a bachelor's degree in Studio Arts from SUNY Brockport, with a dual concentration in sculpture and photography, as well as minors in art history and psychology.

"As I looked over the resumes and portfolios of this group of artists, I was impressed with the quality of the artwork, as well as the breadth of both subject and media," said Gallery Manager Shirley Verrico. "These artists clearly developed excellent foundation skills at GCC, but perhaps more importantly, each found a creative voice with which they could express themselves in a unique and personal way."

The exhibit runs from Sept. 14 through Nov. 8, with a reception planned from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 during homecoming weekend.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but it's closed on Tuesday. Admission to the Roz Steiner Art Gallery is FREE.

To learn more about the gallery and the upcoming exhibit, visit: http://www.genesee.edu/campuslife/arts/gallery/calendar.cfm.

GCC's Bringin' Back the '80s Homecoming Weekend Sept. 28-29 has something for everyone and for all ages, including live bands, a car show, soccer games, brunch, Athletic Hall of Fame inductions and an Oktoberfest mixer with the Batavia Rotary Club at the Batavia Downs.

The complete rundown of activities, and registration forms for key events, are available on the GCC homecoming Web site: http://www.genesee.edu/depts/alumni/homecoming/

October 11, 2011 - 8:59am
posted by Sarah Noble Moag in music, entertainment, Cornell University, alumni, a capella.
Event Date and Time: 
October 11, 2011 - 8:55am to October 21, 2011 - 8:55am
Cornell Club of Genesee Orleans International Spirit of Zinck's Night October 20 ~ Batavia, NY Special Guests: Cornell University’s Cayuga’s Waiters O’Lacys Irish Pub, Five School Street, Batavia, NY 14020; 585-343-3270 7:00- 9:00 pm
March 17, 2011 - 1:22pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in Reunions, reunion, alumni, BHS Alumni, class 1981 reunion.


BHS Class 1981


The Batavia High School Class of 1981 is planning their 30th Class Reunion August 5-7th. The activities will begin with a group mixer on Friday evening at  the Batavia Downs Casino Grandstand Bar & Grill at 8:30 p.m.

Classmates will gather on Saturday from 2-8 p.m. at the Genesee County Park Pavilion D, for a family chicken BBQ .

The weekend of events will conclude on Sunday with a brunch at Terry Hills at 11 a.m.

Alumni are asked to join the Facebook page http://on.fb.me/e2FiaC at Batavia High School Class of 1981 30th Reunion or call David Penepent for more details at 585-356-4929. 

December 9, 2009 - 6:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, Genesee Community College, alumni.

Genesee Community College's Alumni Office has been awarded a $1,000 from the State University of New York Council for University Advancement (SUNYCUAD) to develop an Alumni Career Network program. Led by Alumni Coordinator Jackie Christenson, plans call for the inaugural program to be up and running next year.

The Alumni Career Network will be a career mentoring program to assist students with career planning and goal setting. The mentor program will match students with alumni who have similar academic interests, career goals, personal interests and hobbies for the purpose of encouraging, supporting, advising and motivating. Alumni mentors will guide students in understanding their field of interest and sharing various levels of expertise.

The goals include helping students develop professional, interpersonal and networking skills critical to their success, and also keeping students informed about career choices through consultations with alumni volunteer mentors. Mentoring can be done in person; through e-mail or by phone; shadowing opportunities at a workplace, or a short- or long-term internship. The key is to begin a small program to guide students toward being successful both academically and professionally and to build the network in years to come.

Students involved in the program can expect to develop a clearer understanding of their career choice, be comfortable with it, possibly make a career change and/or continue their education. Alumni mentors can expect an opportunity to share experiences and to guide a student, which fosters personal and professional skills such as listening, coaching, guiding and teaching.

"We are very excited about developing the Alumni Career Network at Genesee," Christenson said. "Especially during tough economic times and ever-changing employment prospects, there is a real need for a mentoring program to connect our successful alumni and our current students who need career advisement. This is a perfect fit for our alumni and students."

Alumni interested in volunteering in the Alumni Career Network program at Genesee Community College should contact Jackie Christenson at 585-343-0055 x6265 or at [email protected].

October 5, 2009 - 10:13pm
posted by Tasia Boland in schools, oakfield-alabama, alumni, hall of fame.

Saturday evening at the Oakfield-Alabama High School, the late 1st. Lt. Harmon J. Norton, Dr. Kenneth Bradt, Dr. Robert B. Diasio and Donald R. Carroll were inducted into the O-A Hall of Fame.100_7197.JPG

The Hornets' gymnasium was filled with about 100 friends and family of the inductees.

O-A students, Jennie Beverly, Leah Snyder, and Ashley Colopy introduced each inductee with a short bio. Wess Audsley, CEO/Director of the Genesee/Wyoming YMCA introduced Donald Carroll.

First Lt. Norton’s grandson, Harmon Norton accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather. He came all the way from Texas because of a quick Google search on his grandfather's name. 

He said the first thing that came up was the article from The Batavian. Once he started reading, he realized it was about his grandfather. He contacted Joe Cassidy, the Oakfield Town Historian, and arranged for a visit.

It seems as though he's been following his grandfather around, from enjoying the same hobby of airplanes and piloting, to being where, a 100 years earlier, his grandfather grew up -- in Oakfield. He thanked The Batavian for its story.

"Without your article, I would not be here today.”

When Dr. Bradt came to the podium, he not only got the audience laughing but enlightened us about the impact others have on your life and decisions. He started with a joke about making just a few notes for his speech while pulling out paper upon paper. Then he joked about his popularity with his female classmates, but sweetly gave the credit for his happiness to his wife of 62 years, Thelma.


He ended his speech challenging the audience to give some thought to the people who have made a difference in your life and to tell them how they influenced you.

Dr. Diasio was unable to attend the event. His classmate, Jan Witkowski,  who accepted the award for Diasio, said “We all knew Bob was destined for great things. We called him Doc from the very beginning.”

YMCA official Audsley shared memories of  Carroll and the struggles Carroll had as a child.

“He will do just about anything for people looking for help,” said Audsley. He said Carroll’s drive to help others is so they don’t have to go through what he went through.

The picture above is of previous and new inducted members. Below are this year's inductees by themselves.

The audience stood up as Carroll walked up to the podium with tears of gratitude flowing down his cheeks.

I got goose bumps. The moment seemed magical.

100_7191.JPGI felt hopeful and strenghtened as I listened to comments about Carroll's community contributions, and knowing all the inductees -- past and present -- have given above and beyond for others.

My husband even felt uplifted. The ceremony made me realize that people don't remember the material things as much as they do the moments spent with those they really care about.

August 31, 2009 - 3:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, GCC, alumni.

The office of Alumni Affairs at Genesee Community College has named Jacqueline Kay Christenson as the new alumni coordinator. "Jackie" began her new position earlier this month after the retirement of Patti Pacino.

Previously, Christenson  was director of alumni programs at Roberts Wesleyan College, where she also served as the assistant director of alumni relations. She was responsible for organizing the Homecoming events, as well as many other alumni initiatives and communication efforts. In addition, she served in other capacities, including office manager and tutor coordinator.

She received her bachelor's degree in organizational management and a master's degree in business from Roberts Wesleyan College. She attended college as a nontraditional-aged student and started her professional career later in life. As an adult student, she had to balance the responsibilities of home and family with her college studies. She enjoyed being around students of all ages. She's eager to hear about the success of nontraditional Genesee students who have graduated and started their own careers.

"I'm really looking forward to connecting Genesee's alumni," Christenson said. "It will be interesting to meet the many different graduates and hear their stories. I hope to bring as many alumni back to campus as possible, so they can see how much the college continues to grow and how their support and involvement with their alma mater adds an incredible dynamic to the life and times at Genesee."

One new opportunity she plans to develop in her first year is an Alumni Mentoring program. Funded by a grant, she hopes to match successful alumni with current students to foster relationships and help to guide students with career advice and possible job shadowing.

Christenson is a resident of North Chili and has two sons, Jeff (34) and Steve (29). She enjoys spending time with her family, especially her two granddaughters, Claire and Maggie. She also enjoys camping, Cajun Zydeco music and swing dancing.

For further information, or to contact the Office of Alumni Affairs, please call 585-343-0055 x6265 or email at [email protected].

July 30, 2009 - 2:37pm
posted by Tasia Boland in oakfield-alabama, alumni, marine corps.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday tasks, we tend to forget those who've helped create the life Americans enjoy.

Like the late 1st Lt. Harmon J. Norton, for example, who served his nation admirably during the Great War.

He graduated in 1913 from Oakfield-Alabama High School and served in the Marine Corps. He was widely regarded as one of the best fliers in America. Joe Cassidy, the Town of Alabama historian, will be representing Norton at the O-A Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 5 p.m. Oct. 3.Norton-after(2).jpg

After graduating high school, Norton studied law at the Detroit College of Law. For two years during college he was a clerk for the New York State Legislature and the Constitutional Convention of New York State. In 1916, he joined the military and two years later he was appointed as an officer in the air branch of the Marine Corps.

During World War I, Norton served as a flying instructor at various air bases throughout the country. Norton-before.jpg

The lieutenant was known as an able and skilled aviator, an "ace" famous among his fellow officers and aviation enthusiasts.

Along with piloting planes, Norton also represented defendants in court martial trials. His success in court had him traveling to different parts of the country to defend men facing court martial.

In 1923, his focus was back on aviation. He was appointed to command a newly established land airplane squadron at Pensacola, Fla.

Captain J.J. Raby, Navy Commandant at the time, described Norton as a pilot of long experience and sure ability especially in landing planes. Raby also noted him as an exceptional all-around officer particularly valuable to aviation.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Norton became the aviation liaision officer in the Marine Corps of the expeditionary forces. This position is responsible for handling all matters between the force and its flying section. His skill at making short trips quickly and manipulating safe landings on hazardous fields were the primary reasons he was selected for the job.

Norton was going to compete in the Schneider Trophy, a prize competition for seaplanes. But he died in 1926 when a military plane he was testing crashed into the Potomac River.

Norton's grandson, who lives in Texas, and granddaughter, who lives in Florida, plan to attend the ceremony.

July 15, 2009 - 11:39am
posted by Tasia Boland in Announcements, schools, oakfield-alabama, alumni, psychology.

Bradt after.jpgKenneth Bradt, Ph.D, is one of four inductees for the Oakfield-Alabama High School Hall of Fame ceremony the first weekend in October.

They will be introduced to students at a pep rally Oct. 2 and recognized publicly at that night's football game.

The Hall of Fame honors will take place Oct. 3 at the O-A Middle-High School. Dinner begins at 5 p.m. with the ceremony following.

Bradt has had an illustrious career. To prepare for it, he attended Syracuse University with an interest in chemistry but found he was more intrigued by people’s decisions and behaviors. He quickly switched his major and earned his bachelor's and master’s degrees in psychology.

In 1951, he earned his doctorate in psychology at Illinois' Northwestern University.

After getting his education, Bradt achieved the rank of first lieutenant in the Army Medical Service. He served as chief clinical psychologist at the Army Hospital at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and later became a research psychologist with the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C..

During the '70s Bradt counseled CIA employees coping with unfamiliar, unpredictable and potentially dangerous situations. For his work, he received the Intelligence Medal of Merit from the CIA director for outstanding contributions to agency management.

For 21 years, Bradt shared his knowledge and wisdom with students at George Washington University, the University of Virginia and George Mason University.

bradt before.jpgIn 1981, he was teaching at George Mason University and originated one of the first graduate-level courses in organizational leadership in the country.

In 2004, he was elected Fellow in the American Psychological Association in recognition of outstanding and unusual contributions to the science and profession of psychology. 

The other inductees are Dr. Robert Disasio, Donald Carroll and 1st. Lt. Harmon J. Norton, who will be represented by Joe Cassidy, the Town of Alabama historian. Some previous inductees will also be attending.

Tickets go on sale in late August at the school’s main office or from committee members. The public is welcome.

July 13, 2009 - 12:00pm
posted by Tasia Boland in medical, schools, Oakfield, alumni.

Dr. Robert B. Diasio continues to make an everlasting footprint in the medical field. He has traveled all over the United States sharing his knowledge and passion in medicine and pharmacology. But his education started here in Genesee County where he graduated from Oakfield-Alabama as valedictorian in 1963.Robert Diasio before.jpg

Since then he has received recognition from colleges and major medical centers and was selected twice as "Best Doctor in America." And the recognition keeps on coming. On Oct. 3 at Oakfield-Alabama Middle School he will be one of four inductees attending the O-A High School Hall of Fame ceremony.

His passion may have come from his parents, Joseph and Clara Diasio, who were longtime physicians in Oakfield.

After high school he ventured on to receive his B.A. from the University of Rochester and an M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine in 1971.

Then he came back home to do internal training at Strong Memorial Hospital. He was a Fellow in Medical Oncology and in Clinical Pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute. For eight years he was a professor at the University of Alabama School of Medicine and was also the Newman H. Waters Chair and director of clinical pharmacology.

He has published more than 200 manuscripts, written reviews and has contributed chapters in several major medical textbooks.Diasio today.jpg

He is the Director of the Mayo Clinic Center in Minnesota and holds the positions of William J. and Charles H. Mayo Endowed Professor as well as Consultant and Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. His work at the center includes research on pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics as applied to cancer therapeutic agents. His lab is now beginning to expand into other cancer therapeutic agents and other neoplasms.


Check back tomorrow for a closer look into Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Kenneth Bradt.

Subscribe to



Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button