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May 23, 2018 - 11:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, schools, education, news, batavia, City Schools.


The Board of Education meeting Tuesday night included a department review from Amanda Antonucci, art teacher at Batavia High School.

Antonucci shared the art accomplishments and progress for Jackson, John Kennedy, Batavia Middle and Batavia High schools.

At the elementary level, first- and second-graders held their annual monster swap. The first-graders draw monsters and the second-graders re-draw them. She said the project is so popular the teachers are thinking of expanding it for next year to include middle school students, who will make monster sculptures from the drawings.

Jackson just held its annual Fine Arts Night, which gives the students a chance to see their art displayed as if in a gallery.

The middle school was engaged in several cross-curriculum projects, including students drawing their portraits with adjectives describing themselves instead of regular lines. They also looked at cells under a microscope and painted pictures of what they saw.

Once again, this year, on May 30 and 31, the middle school will hold its Human Rights Heroes project.

At the high school level, there were two new electives, both very popular: Digital Photography and Graphic Design.

The students also had a number of electives to choose from, including Drawing, Printmaking, Studio Design, Portfolio, and Sculpture.

"We have great electives," Antonucci said. "For a school our size, it is really outstanding. I really appreciate it."

One of the guest artists who visited the school this year was a 1969 graduate of BHS who is a sculptor.

A popular new activity was mARTch Madness. Antonucci said in March, all the kids can talk about is basketball so the teachers set up a bracket of 16 contemporary artists and the students discussed and debated their work.

"There was a lot of great commentary and discussion," Antonucci said. "We're going to do this forever now because it was such a big hit."

She encouraged her students to enter work into a 6x6 show in Rochester. Antonucci herself entered a solo show featuring portraits she painted of students; and she and student Sophia Dinehart entered a show just for an art teacher and an art student to share a gallery space.

BHS will host its Art Appreciation Night May 30.

Below are photos of student-created and painted murals that are being completed in the hallway of the district administration building.




May 23, 2018 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, education, schools.

The Board of Education for City Schools handed out their monthly awards to start last night's meeting. Below are pictures of the winners with write-ups supplied by the school district.


Valle Jewelers invited Mrs. Torrey’s first-grade classroom to their store to further their study of gemstones and minerals in their History of the Earth Unit.

Students were able to see equipment discussed in lessons that jewelers use, find their birthstones and look at them under a microscope!

This was a hands-on way for first graders to learn and we appreciate Valle Jewelers for opening their doors to our students.  What a great experience for them! 

Photo: Stephen Valle, Pat Burk, Carrie Lawrence and her daughter, Sophia.


Jaheim Dana had a rocky start to his high school career and did not earn enough credits to progress to the 10th grade. He struggled academically, lacked motivation, and even talked about dropping out of high school.

When students have to repeat the ninth grade, we often see them lose their desire to graduate, and we struggle to get them back on track to graduate on time. This was not the case with Jaheim.

Over the last year, we have seen him make an incredible transformation! He has passed every class, is planning to study Auto Technology at BOCES in his senior year, and is right on track to graduate in 2019 with his class.

He plans to enter the military after graduation. Mrs. Garner is continually impressed with Jaheim's ability to shut out negative peer pressure and keep his eye on his goal of graduation.

We are so proud of his accomplishments at BHS and can't wait to see him walk the stage next June!


Lauren Leone is an extremely self-motivated, hard-working, and flexible graduating senior who can be depended upon to get a job done and done well.

At the beginning of this school year, she took the initiative to follow up on my invitation (given at the end of her junior year) to do some writing for the District’s A+ Community Newsletter.

She then proceeded to contribute a quality article, on time, for each issue. In addition, she was flexible in what she wrote about, giving equal care to a topic she generated on her own or one that was suggested to her. Throughout the year, she could be counted on to deliver what was needed by the deadline of when it was needed.

This was no small feat for someone who was also busy with so, so many other activities and responsibilities as a class officer, athlete, volunteer extraordinaire, as well as a dedicated student taking many demanding classes, including college-level courses, all while maintaining a grade-point average that puts her at the very top of her class.


Riley Gonzalez works hard every day. He sets a great example of how other classmates should be and act.

He has been on GREEN or ABOVE every single month this year. This is over 130 days of EXCELLENT BEHAVIOR. Over 130 days of being respectful, responsible, safe and following all of the Whole Brain Teaching rules (following directions quickly, raising hand for permission to speak, participate, and leave seat, making smart choices, and making your teachers happy.)

Riley follows all of these, as well as being a polite, caring individual. We are proud to recognize his efforts.

April 30, 2018 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, schools, education.


Press release: 

Typically working behind the scenes, Roberta "Bobbi" Norton was recently in the limelight at an awards banquet in Buffalo as she was recognized with a Western New York Educational Service Council Award for Excellence.

Norton is the executive assistant to the superintendent and assistant clerk /secretary to the Board of Education for the Batavia City School District.

She was nominated for the annual award by Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey and Board of Education President Pat Burk, who wrote, “Mrs. Norton is dedicated to our district, the Board of Education, and the children. She is caring, conscientious, compassionate, and professional, and she makes the Batavia City School District a better place for all every day. “

Norton has worked for the District for more than 38 years, beginning as a clerical intern in the business office, continuing with positions in schools and administrative offices, and, for the last 10 years, in the superintendent’s office.

Calling her a leader and an example of excellence for the clerical staff, Dailey and Burk noted that, “Through superior work performance that includes trustworthiness and professionalism, Mrs. Norton has earned a place within the inner circle of trust among the leadership within the District.”

In announcing her award, Council President Lori DiCarlo said, “Bobbi exhibits undying loyalty to public service, the students and to the administrators she supports. ... Driven by an obsession for creating meticulous order to things, Bobbi draws a lot of personal satisfaction from the clerical work she performs.

"When asked to identify the best thing about her job, without hesitation she credits the positive environment within the Batavia City Schools as a source of great job satisfaction.”

April 13, 2018 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news.

Press release:

At the Batavia City School District Board of Education meeting on April 10, several students, staff members and volunteers were presented with awards by Board of Education president Patrick Burk for their exemplary work and contributions.


In recognition of the positive example she provides, Gabriella Smith was presented with an Outstanding Student Award.

She was nominated by kindergarten teacher Debra Wolff, who wrote, “Gabby is a quiet, confident leader in our class. She is respectful, responsible, and safe without needing to be reminded. She is a very kind and caring friend who always makes sure to include others.

"Gabby always has a smile on her face, which makes everyone's day brighter. We can always count on her to be setting a very positive example of what a good listener and what being a good friend look like.”


In recognition of her enthusiasm and hard work, Daisylynn Bastedo was presented with an Outstanding Student Award.

She was nominated by pre-kindergarten teacher Emily Giuliano, and teacher aide Nancy Okoniewski.

Mrs. Giuliano wrote, “Daisylynn is a perfect example of a kind, caring, polite, and hard-working student. She always comes to school with a smile on her face and looks forward to greeting her teachers. Daisy consistently makes good choices in all parts of the school day.

"She shows an enthusiasm for learning and tackles new challenges seriously and with a positive attitude. We can always count on Daisy to be polite and respectful in and out of the classroom. She is always willing to help a classmate, whether it is during an activity or zipping up their coat at the end of the day. Daisy has made so much growth this year."


In recognition of her infectious enthusiasm and dedication, Nancy Okoniewski was presented with an Outstanding Staff Award.

She was nominated by pre-kindergarten teacher Emily Giuliano, who wrote, “Mrs. Okoniewski has been working for the District for over 18 years at both the High School and the Middle School but has found her calling at Jackson Primary. She has been the UPK teacher aide (in Mrs. Giuliano's UPK classroom) since the start of the program in 2007.

"Mrs. Okoniewski wears a smile on her face each and every day. She has a very bubbly and friendly personality and you may catch her singing to the children as well as the adults. She makes people laugh and feel happy right along with her. She is a hard worker who goes above and beyond her duties as a teacher aide.

"She is also a bus monitor and rides the bus home with the kids to make sure they get home safe. She is the Batavia Clerical Association building representative at Jackson Primary and continues to put in hours of work outside of her normal workday by attending union and BCA meetings. Mrs. Okoniewski is a very special person who is thoughtful, kind and always willing to help others.


In recognition of their continued dedication to our students, Barbara Holder and Paula Wortzman were each presented with an Outstanding Community Member Award.

They were nominated by first-grade teacher Jessica Torrey, who wrote, “Since their retirement from the District, Barbara Holder and Paula Wortzman have devoted countless hours to the students in the first-grade classroom at Jackson Primary.

"Many students over the years have been so lucky to share their first-grade experience with these two ladies. They are kind, loving, and offer a wealth of knowledge in working with our young population. Their hard work and dedication is very much appreciated.”

April 11, 2018 - 11:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in immigrants, City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.


When the children of Claudia Celia Rincon Pico and Loan Trang entered Batavia City Schools a few years ago, neither mother spoke a word of English.

On Tuesday night, both mothers spoke to City School Board members to demonstrate how a special Sunday night English class led by Jenna Mrzywka and Courtney Turner has helped them improve their English.

Mrzywka, an English as a Second Language teacher at Jackson, and Turcer, an ESL teacher at Batavia HS, started the Sunday adult English night class on their own (it's now supported by the district) two and a half years ago.

"They're new to the community and a lot of times when someone is new to a country they feel there are cultural and language barriers so they don't always come into the school," Turcer said. "This is a chance to bring parents into the school building and a chance for kids to help their parents and it's a way for them to make friends and get roots in the community. They know English is important so it's a way for them to help themselves."

Rincon Pico and Trang have been part of the program since its inception, though Trang recently opened a nail salon in Erie County and now lives in the Pembroke Central School District, where her son attends school.

Rincon Pico is from Colombia and Trang is from Vietnam. Turcer said ESL students tend to be predominately Spanish-speaking, though Chinese is often common, but students have come through speaking other languages, including an Indian language and French. When she started with district five years ago there were 13 or 14 ESL students, she said. Today there are 40, including 10 at the high school.

Both Mrzywka and Turcer have built solid relationships with parents in the class, which makes it easier to help them deal with school work for their children.

They also said the parents, despite often coming from different countries and cultures, build lasting friendships among themselves.

The non-English population in Batavia is fluid, Turcer said, so there is some fluctuation in class size. Currently, there are five adults in the class. There have been as many as 10 and as few as two.

Adult students start with the basics, learning their ABCs, and move onto personal identification, food, and household items.

In their presentations, Rincon Pico and Trang shared about their home countries, what their interests are, and their favorite dishes from their homelands. Interestingly, both dishes, though very different, featured pork, rice and peppers.

Trang said she was grateful to the Batavia district for all it had done for her and her family.

"I love to become an American," said Trang at the close of her talk, who also noted one of her favorite holidays is the Fourth of July. "I love it here and I love America."



March 17, 2018 - 12:21pm
posted by James Burns in batavia, news, City Schools, schools, education, art.


Batavia City school administrators and teachers presented art awards Friday evening to students at the Richmond Memorial Library in the district's annual art show. The student art will be on display at the library for the remainder of the month.






March 1, 2018 - 3:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, batavia, City Schools.


The Batavia City School District continues to adopt technology as part of the learning process and coursework, IT Coordinator Jeff McKinney told the school board during its meeting Tuesday night.

His presentation was followed by demonstrations of some of the robots and programming projects students have been working on this year.

McKinney said 2,000 Chromebooks have been deployed to students. Students have visited more than one million websites. There are 266 active Google classrooms and students are creating 50,000 new documents each month.

Internet access has become so critical to the educational process that McKinney has come up with a plan for a backup bandwidth provider so that if the primary provider goes offline, teachers and students don't lose access.

"I'm really proud of where we're going and what we've done," McKinney said.

He said a key advantage of the STEM program currently in place is it helps students learn through discovery and studies show students retain new knowledge better when it comes through discovery.

It isn't always the teacher teaching anymore, either, said Melissa Calandra, a STEM teacher at John Kennedy Elementary School.

"It's kind of hard as a teacher not to know all of the answers but that's the world we live in now," she said.

Other faculty participating in the presentation, Katelin LaGreca, JK Library Media Specialist, Karen Shuskey, JK ACE Teacher, and Marie Martell, JK Computer Literacy/Math AIS Teacher.

Top photo: Phoebe Beal, grade 3; Brock Bigsby, grade 3; Ryan Bigsby, grade 3; Ella Shamp, grade 4; Landon Hamilton, grade 4;Tosh Spilberg, grade 4.


March 1, 2018 - 12:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, schools, education.


The Batavia City School District Board of Trustees honored several people at the start of Tuesday's meeting with certificates of appreciation for the difference they're making at the Batavia schools.

Above, Board President Pat Burk with Lucy Lefevre.


Amelia Tripp


Luca Garland


Landon Minuto


Ottoniel Ramirez-Garcia


Camden Reimer


Members of the STAR staff.


Detective Richard Schauff

February 23, 2018 - 3:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

If parents notice an increased police presence at Batavia City Schools, it's not in response to any specific threat, Superintendent Chris Dailey said today in a letter sent home with students after school.

"This is meant to be a positive and proactive step as our police department continues to look for ways to engage with our students in prevention and support," Dailey wrote.

The letter addresses heightened concern in the community about school safety after last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and reports of a student last week who officials believed made verbal threats at the BOCES campus.

The letter may be in response to numerous social media posts asking questions about more police officers on and around local campuses and unconfirmed rumors of threats made on social media specific to local schools.

"Our country is recovering from the tragedy in Parkland, Florida," Daily wrote. "It is only natural to have questions about the safety and security of our students and staff in BCSD.

"There are stories from time to time of students potentially threatening to do violent acts at our schools," Dailey continued. "We, along with the Batavia City Police Department, always look into any allegations of this sort and have found no credible threats against our district."

Dailey said the district is actively involved in emergency response and planning with local law enforcement.

The events in Florida, he said, provide an opportunity to review procedures and plans and make adjustments as necessary.

To read the full letter, click here.

January 11, 2018 - 10:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news.

The Board of Education for Batavia City Schools approved two additional tax exemptions for veterans owning homes in the school district.

The Cold War and Eligible Funds exemptions have been available as exemptions for county, town and city taxpayers but the school districts have only recently been able to pass the exemptions. 

There are currently 75 veterans in the district who are eligible for an exemption on property taxes for their Cold War service to the nation. Five veterans are eligible for the Eligible Funds exemption.

The Eligible Funds exemption is an exemption on a portion of the purchase price of a house paid for with veterans benefits.

The veterans exemptions will be in effect for the 2018-19 school year. 

"We have been advised by Genesee County that veterans who are eligible are being encouraged apply for them -- i.e. see their local assessor, even if they are currently receiving the exemption from the county, town or village," said Scott Rozanski, business administrator for the district.

"There is a March 1 deadline each year for any applications. They would only need to apply once, not each year while residing in the same address."

Cold War veterans are eligible for up to a $6,000 reduction in assessment for tax purposes, and Eligible Funds veterans can get taxable assessed value reduction of up to $5,000. In both cases, the exemptions can be offset by other exemptions.

December 21, 2017 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify, schools, education.


Using a detection device to identify students who might have been drinking at high school dances is nothing new, said Batavia City Schools Superintendent Chris Dailey, and previous uses have gotten no pushback from students or parents.

Yesterday, The Batavian published a picture of Batavia High School receiving two new wand-like devices that act as breathalyzers to help school officials identify students who may have been drinking prior to arrival at a school dance or other social function where they might be used. The publication of the picture raised a lot of questions among readers about the legality and ethics of such devices.

Dailey said the district's first priority is the safety of the students.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of our kids don't generally show up under the influence, so it's rather a moot point to them," Dailey said. "They're not thinking we're trying to take away their rights and we're not trying to take away their rights. We're trying to provide a safe environment for all. It's all about safety for us."

All of the complaints that surfaced after yesterday's picture publication surfaced online, Dailey said. There have been no calls to the district office and he met with high school officials today and there was no mention of complaints at the high school.

The wands donated to the school by STOP-DWI and local law enforcement are not at all invasive, Dailey said, unlike the previous alcohol sensor used by the school, which was only used if a student was suspected of drinking. The wands, Dailey said, can detect a potential use of alcohol by a person in a group of people.

"Alcohol consumption by students is something that is illegal and is not tolerated," Dailey said. "We want to make sure we provide the safest possible environment for all of our students."

That's critical, Dailey said, when you have 200 to 300 students coming together for an event.

If a student is found under the influence of alcohol at a school event, the first step, Dailey said, is to make sure the student is safe. Next, school officials call the teenager's parents.

"We reach out to the parents," Dailey said. "(the student) is not allowed to leave if under impairment and we will work with the parent so the child will learn from the mistake."

There isn't necessarily disciplinary action taken against the student.

"(It) depends on the situation," Dailey said.

As for whether the sensors violate students' rights, Dailey said, any student or parent who might be concerned about it are free to not attend the school function.

"If people choose not to come to the dance because of it, that's their choice, absolutely," Dailey said.

December 20, 2017 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, batavia, notify.

After more than a year of design and planning, construction on several capital improvement projects in the Batavia City School District is set to begin in less than a year.

Voters approved the $26.7 million improvements, which will be accomplished without a tax increase, last March.

Marco Marascio, a project manager with Campus Construction Management in Pittsford, and Tracy Conshiser-Uy, an architect with Wendel, in Buffalo, updated district trustees Tuesday night on the construction plans.

The biggest of the projects is the demolition and reconstruction of Van Detta Stadium.

Demolition will begin, Marascio said, in the fall of 2018. The area will be fenced off and also include storage of construction equipment. The new stadium will consist of pre-built grandstands and a press box and these will be wheeled in and assembled on site.

Construction will be completed by September 2019, Marascio said.

At the high school, restroom and auditorium renovations start in April 2019 during the spring break and work should be completed by August of that year. Roof work begins in June and will be finished by November.

At the middle school, auditorium renovations begin in October 2018 and will be finished by December. The fitness room is scheduled for February 2019 through April 2019. The music room in April 2019; the attendance office in June 2019; interior renovations from December 2018 through August 2019; exterior improvements begin in June 2019; asphalt shingle roof in May 2019; and HVAC modifications in May 2019, completed by August.

At Jackson School, flooring replacement, window replacement, boiler room work, and toilet room renovations in April 2019 and all completed by September 2019.

At John Kennedy School, classroom addition and toilet room renovations are from October 2018 through April 2019. Gymnasium improvements also begin in October 2018 but will take until November to complete. The auditorium demolition is in December 2018. Window replacements begin April 2019.

The work at Richmond Memorial Library includes restroom renovations, painting, floor replacement, reading room lighting, upgrade to the fire alarm system, and landscaping. All of that work is scheduled for December 2018 through May 2019.

Marascio said that where work is performed on campus during the school year, construction workers will either have a separate ingress and egress from the student entrance to the construction zone or they will be instructed to remain in the construction zone during any time students are out of classrooms.

December 20, 2017 - 9:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, schools, education.

The Batavia City School District Board of Trustees handed out its monthly awards at the start of its meeting Tuesday night. 


Sarah Gahagan and Lindsey Leone – Outstanding Staff Award

I just wanted to pass along praise for Sarah Gahagan and Lindsey Leone for their hard work and dedication to making the B-Squad program a success. My son participated in the program and he learned so much from it. Sarah and Lindsey perfectly balanced physical fitness, community involvement, career development, and social responsibility with this program.

They kept the participants motivated and taught life lessons that would be hard to duplicate in a classroom setting. I imagine they spent a significant amount of their personal time on this program and wanted to recognize their efforts with the administration. Please know that they are assets to BCSD and the City of Batavia who have made a difference in the lives of these young men. -- Nominated by Jill Halpin, Parent


Shirley Boyd – Outstanding Staff Award

Shirley always goes above and beyond for all students; not just the ones she works directly with in the inclusive classroom. She is patient and very receptive to the students’ needs. She takes on additional responsibilities that are not required of her throughout the entire school. She is more than willing to assist the teachers she works with directly and those that she does not. Shirley takes time out of her personal schedule to build relationships with students that need it most. She is truly an amazing individual we are blessed to have her on board. --Nominated by Laura Kaczmarek & Cindy Morgan


The board also presented a proclamation to Caryn Wood for the Drama's Club's successful production of "Sally Cotter and the Censored Stone." The proclamation cited the cast and crew and said the show "exceeded all expectations of a high school drama performance, bringing laughter, jest, and extreme entertainment to the audience it gathered for this event."

October 20, 2017 - 12:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, City Schools, schools, news.

A student at Batavia High School has contracted viral meningitis, a contagious but not fatal virus, according to Chris Dailey, superintendent of Batavia City School District.

Dailey informed parents in the school district through a memo released today.

Here's Dailey's statement:

This is to inform you that a Batavia High School student has been diagnosed with viral meningitis. It is caused by a virus and is not fatal. It can be caused by any one of the common cold or intestinal viruses. The difference is, it affects the lining of your spinal cord and brain. It is spread by person-to-person contact, or a cough, just as the common cold virus is.

The symptoms of meningitis can be fever, stiff neck and tiredness, along with a sore throat, cough or intestinal symptoms.

If your child complains of any of these symptoms, he/she should follow-up with their own physician.

The best way to keep healthy is to wash your hands regularly and not share drinking bottles.

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


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.”


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!”


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.


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


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 20, 2017 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, news, education.


Press release:

In recognition of her academic perseverance and successful accomplishments, Batavia High student Julieth Caceres was presented with an Outstanding Student Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Board meeting on September 19.

She was nominated by Courtney Turcer, a teacher of English to speakers of other languages, who wrote, “Julieth sat for both the Global and Earth Science Regents on the same June day, for a total of 12 hours, from 8:30 a.m. to nearly 9 p.m. Unfortunately, she failed both exams. Despite the grueling day, she decided to try both exams again in August when they would be given on consecutive days rather than the same day. This time, she walked in with confidence and a positive attitude and she passed both Regents!

"While this is a great accomplishment for any student, for Juli, this is huge. She moved here three years ago from Colombia and did not speak a word of English. There are not many students who would persevere for 12 hours through two Regents exams in the same day – and then, as Juli did, continue to be positive and return to try again. She is truly worthy of recognition.”


In recognition of her valuable contribution to the staff and students, Middle School teacher Michelle Woodward was presented with an Outstanding Staff Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Board meeting on September 19.

She was nominated by Mrs. Lindsey Heassler, sixth-grade social studies and reading teacher, who wrote, “Mrs. Woodward is an extremely hard-working, motivated, and dedicated sixth grade teacher who goes above and beyond her normal obligations for students. She works with students after school on a daily basis and runs various student clubs.

"For many years, she has served as the sixth grade coordinator at the Middle School. In this role, she organizes fundraisers, field trips, and handles grade level finances. This is an extremely large undertaking, and she shoulders the responsibilities with accuracy and expertise. Colleagues would not be able to do many of the extracurricular activities with their students without Mrs. Woodward’s valuable contribution of time and skill.”


In recognition of her valuable contribution to the staff and students at John Kennedy, teacher aide Michelle Nanni was presented with an Outstanding Staff Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Board meeting on September 19.

She was nominated by special education teacher, Mrs. Neumann, who wrote, “Ms. Nanni is flexible and willing to support the special education teacher and team of professionals who strives to meet the needs of all John Kennedy students. She has a positive demeanor, and is genuine and kind to all whom she encounters.”

Photos by Kathie Scott, Batavia City Schools.

September 20, 2017 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

Batavia City Schools continue to exceed state averages for the graduation rates for children with special needs.

Trisha Finnigan, director of special education and alternative education, updated the school board on special education in the district during Tuesday night's board meeting.

For 2015-16, the state average graduation rate of 55.39 percent. The City Schools rate was 60.9 percent.

That's consistent with prior years, going back to 2005-06 when the state was 37 percent and the local rate was 46.4 percent. In 2014-15, the state rate was 50.48 percent and the local rate was 57 percent.

Also, Finnigan said, the district is having some success with students that state doesn't count as "graduated," though she thinks they should be counted.

"The truth is, and I've talked about this before, is that, for example, some of our students that have some pretty significant cognitive limitations and can't earn a Regent's diploma. They now earn what's called a skills and achievement commencement credential. It's evidence that we've prepared them for, ideally, employment or work toward a realistic postsecondary plan. We don't get credit for those in our graduation rate and it actually counts against us. It's something that any time I can give feedback to the state about, I do."

Students also have until their 21st birthday to graduate, but when a student needs more time, the state doesn't count those eventual successful graduations in the district's graduation rate for special education.

"I think many of you had pleasure last year to meet a young lady who needed until January after her senior year to graduate, but she did it," Finnigan said. "That counts against us."

In other measures, 80 percent or more of special education students in Batavia are spending at least 66 percent of their time inside of regular classrooms. That exceeds the state standard of 58.2 percent. 

September 20, 2017 - 8:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, City Schools, schools, education, news, notify.


As of this morning, Dennis Kenney is the new interim principal at Batavia High School.

Kenney fills the vacancy left when Scott Wilson accepted a position in Churchville.

The school district reviewed several candidates to replace Wilson on a permanent basis but has decided to extend the search.

Kenney will serve as principal until Dec. 22.  

The school board approved his contract in executive session at the start of last night's meeting.

A resident of Warsaw, Kenney has 40 years in education and recently retired as a principal at Iroquois Central Schools, where he worked for 12 years.

His first 18 years in education was with the New York State Division Youth, which is now Child and Family Services, working in residential facilities with kids who had serious emotional issues and learning disabilities.

He's also been a principal at Barker, an assistant in Albion and Canandaigua and served for two-and-a-half years as superintended in Perry.

He has three sons and was on vacation in Virginia Beach with eight of his grandchildren when he got the call from Superintendent Chris Dailey asking if he would be interested in interviewing for the interim position.

"They'll find me a very visible high school principal and very approachable," Kenney said. "I'd like the parents to know that my door is always open, and staff, to come and see me on anything. The students, too. I think we have a great school district here and the high school has a great faculty, good assistant principals, and we're going to work together and keep moving forward."

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