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Class of 2020

June 28, 2020 - 2:16pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, graduation, news, Class of 2020, covid-19.

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(Pictured above are slats of wood engraved by BHS teacher Bob Mullen from the gym floor that is being replaced currently. Each graduate received one today.)

A ceremony at Daniel A. Van Detta Stadium was originally planned for the Batavia High School Class of  2020, but with many changes to the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update, that plan was changed.

Today's outdoor ceremony was divvied up into six separate mini graduations with each senior joined by a couple of family members.

Opening remarks were made by Student Council co-mayors Lydia Wahr and Macayla Burke, and by English teacher Kimberly Przybysz, who was chosen by the National Honor Society to give the commencement speech.

The co-mayors presented Principal Paul Kesler with the Dundee Award (in a nod to the TV show "The Office") on behalf of the Class of 2020 in honor of being a supportive principal who succeeded at keeping the rite of graduation close to home.

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Above, Batavia City School District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr.

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(Photo above: BHS Principal Paul Kesler)

Immediately following the seniors' event were half hour graduating sessions with social distancing for the Class of 2020 near the historic big tree in front of BHS.

Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. addressed the graduates but especially parents who wore many different hats after the pandemic shutdown in mid-March: principal, teacher, counselor, social worker.

“Take this setback as an opportunity to make a comeback and make the Class of 2020 historic," Soler said. "Be grateful with the time you spent time with family the last 100-plus days, because at the end of the day that is what truly matters because, to the right and left of you, they got you to the finish line. We are Batavia.”

Principal Kesler told the crowd that nobody has experienced anything like this -- coronavirus -- in their lifetime and he expressed gratitude for his staff and students who had to battle adversity to learn online.

These teens, Kesler noted, although disappointed about missing traditional senior events, were grateful for all their blessings -- the support of friends, school staff, family and life in a free country.

This unique group is "part of a thoughtful generation that loves and values people even more than generations that came before us,"Kesler said. "Above all, you will show love and appreciation for all of those that come across your path, I will truly miss you and am very proud of you, Class of 2020.

Prerecorded speeches were given by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian for five out of six scheduled ceremonies but then both were made in person at their scheduled times.

Valedictorian Andrew Lin maintained a 101.497 cumulative grade-point average throughout high school; plus he achieved a perfect score on the ACT assessment, which has not been done in 15-plus years. A three-sport varsity athlete, Andrew served four years in student government, was active in his community, and will attend MIT this fall to study Computer Engineering. 

Andrew spoke about the Class of 2020 high school years from freshman to high school, and the changes and obstacles members will remember, forged by adversity and resilience.

"In a few short months we will be spread out all over the country, blazing our own futures, continuing to change the realm just like we did in high school -- making friends, taking new interests, expecting challenge and meeting new people," Andrew said. "I leave you with this quote, 'Don’t forget where you came from but always remember where you're going.'

"Batavia High School is our home. We are all behind you; supporting you as your future awaits you."

Salutatorian Lydia Geiger graduates with two honors -- the prestigious elite honors program at The Hochstein School of Music, and with today's advanced regents diploma at Batavia High School with a 101.021 grade-point average.

Lydia has volunteered many hours in the community. She has also participated in every musical program during all four years at BHS. She will further her education at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam this fall.

Lydia talked about how the class was born to be resilient in the wake of 9/11 and is now graduating in the midst of a global pandemic.

"We look to have the faith when we look through the window even when we see the broken glass," she said. "As time goes on, we fall into living in patterns, going through the motions in the dark, and when the light comes on we don’t always have the perspective of what should be. But who defines what should be?

"The vision of life events that should be, that we create in our minds is not reality. With every passing moment we are putting together the puzzle pieces and this journey we call life. As more of this picture has become evident, we have realized that they’re was a greater purpose."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

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Valedictorian Andrew Lin

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Salutatorian Lydia Geiger

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June 11, 2020 - 5:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in BHS, Class of 2020, news, Senior Parade, coronavirus.

Submitted image and press release:

The Batavia High School Class of 2020 will hold a Senior Parade beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 20.

This was originally the date scheduled for their senior prom, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students wanted to mark the occasion with a fun event that will provide a drive down “memory lane” and a chance for them to see former teachers and supportive family, friends, and community members.

They will begin their parade at Batavia High School, assembling there at 3:45 p.m., then loop around the city to pass by each school building (Robert Morris, Jackson Primary, Batavia Middle School, John Kennedy Intermediate, then back to BHS).

Seniors are strongly encouraged decorate their car, dress up for the occasion, and/or display plans for next year.

The community is highly encouraged to cheer them on and make signs congratulating along the route!

Here's the route*:

  • From the BHS Loop, left on State Street, right onto Richmond Avenue, left onto Union Street;
  • Pass Robert Morris School, turn left onto West Main Street, veer right at the Upton Monument onto Ellicott Street, turn right onto Jackson Street, then left onto South Jackson Street;
  • Pass Jackson Elementary, turn left onto South Swan Street, which becomes Swan Street, then changes into Ross Street;
  • Pass Batavia Middle School, turn right onto East Avenue, then left onto Elm Street;
  • Drive through loop at John Kennedy School, get back onto Elm, southbound, and turn right onto North Street, then right onto Ross Street, left onto Bank Street Road, then right onto Denio Street, and right onto State Street.
  • Finish by rounding the Batavia High School loop.

*Editor's note: The map and written directives sent June 11 by BCSD had a couple of errors. The information has been updated and corrected as of June 12.

May 18, 2020 - 4:34pm

Student photos and information from the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation:

For the first time ever, the Paulo Busti Cultural Foundation has had to cancel its annual Scholarship Dinner and COVID-19 is the reason.

"It is with great sadness, that for the first time in our history, this event will be cancelled," said foundation board President Michele Fuller. "Italian’s are synonymous with family, generosity and love. These students are our family. The Board of Directors wanted to do something special for them during this tumultuous time. We cannot think of a better way of taking care of our young than to award each one with a monetary scholarship.

The students have met all the necessary requirements, according to Scholarship Chair Annette LaBarbera, who has worked diligently to file all their applications.

The six awardees will be featured in the foundation upcoming newsletter, and their accomplishments will be celebrated at their next event.

They are: Kiaya Marie Condidorio, Rhoori Adea Fix, Christopher Gualtieri, Isabella Marie Riner, Megan Elizabeth Smith and Jacob Torcello.

The Gautieri family is also awarding each student with a monetary scholarship. This is given annually, in honor of their late father, Vincent Gautieri, an avid supporter of the foundation, and proud of his Italian heritage.

"We hope the kids take this opportunity to reflect on the hardships, prejudice, poverty and loneliness their ancestors endured when they came to America," Fuller said. "Their sacrifices made it possible for them to live The American Dream. They prevailed and they will, too!”

The Foundation also honors the 2020 Outstanding Italian American at the annual dinner. This year the recipient is Raymond San Fratello, formerly of Genesee County, and currently a resident of Clermont, Fla., who will be recognized at a future date (inset photo, right from his Facebook Page).

"He is an incredible man and we look forward to showcasing his many accomplishments," Fuller said.

Kiaya Marie Condidorio (left), graduating senior from Le Roy Jr./Sr High School, is the daughter of Thomas and Charity Condidorio. Software Engineering will be Kiaya’s major attending Genesee Community College in the Fall.

Responsibility, passion, courage and accountability are the values Kiaya demonstrates with strong Italian roots. Both sets of grandparents arrived to the United States shores from Italy and Sicily.

Kiaya has learned to balance her academics and sports to achieve the Honor Roll consistently. She played soccer, softball, and basketball during her high school years and will continue to play soccer in college. Kiaya said that playing sports helped her realize her strengths and weaknesses, and grew from these challenges. Kiaya was awarded Scholar Athlete in soccer and basketball.

Volunteering at the school sports concession stand, cleaning and organizing at the fire hall, working at the Knights Closet, teaching youth basketball camp, and school peer counselor has helped to be a better leader.

Rhoori Adea Fix (right) is a graduating senior at Batavia High School, daughter of Aaron and Kristen Fix, and is the best version of a kind, hardworking student, whose involvement in school and community has helped her to accomplish her goals.

Rhoori’s goal is to achieve her bachelor of science degree in Nursing with a specialty in Obstetrics -- Labor and Delivery. This demonstrates her desire to apply integrity, leadership and caring to her goal. Rhoori will be attending Genesee Community College in the Fall in Health Studies.

She's a member of the National Honor Society, qualified for the National Art Honor Society, and a Public Relations officer of the National Art Honor Society. Rhoori was the communication liaison between students and teachers on society events and the recipient of the BHS Silver Award.

As an active member of Ascension Parish, she assists in various parish events, assisting as an instructor for the younger students in the Faith Formation classes, student tutor for the district’s Extended Year program, assistant teacher/mentor at Center Stage Dance Company, and a volunteer for Ricky Palermo Foundation.

Rhoori said she feels “caring for others, no matter what, is something that I grew up valuing on a day to day basis."

A 2020 Le Roy JR/Sr High School graduate Christopher Gualtieri (left), son of Michael and Deborah Gualtieri, possesses a strong Italian heritage.

His great-grandparents arrived in the United States from Italy, Sicily and Capri and settled in our community. This has instilled in Christopher the importance of family.

His plan in the Fall is to attend Fredonia College, majoring in Computer Science, with a minor in Athletic Coaching. He will be participating in track.

During his years at Le Roy HS, he participated in indoor / outdoor track team, and cross-country and was the captain on all three teams.

He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, National Honor Society, Design Club and Mock Trial.

Christopher appreciated the time he volunteered at Our Lady of Mercy Parish as an altar server, student volunteer for Religious Education, Vacation Bible School and fish fry dinners. At summer Camp Stella Maris, Christopher was a leader in training and counselor in training.

“I am a person of strong faith, a community giver, driven and dedicated to achieve my goals,” Christopher said.

Isabella Marie Riner (right), a proud graduating senior from Elba Central School, is the Class of 2020 Valedictorian. The daughter of Michael and Alison Riner, Isabella's ancestors arrived in the United States in the early 20th century, raising their family in Genesee County.

Participating in extracurricular activities was a big part of her high school years. She received a Sportsmanship Award from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association; attended a World Leadership Conference; was a participant in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadershiop Foundation program and named an Air Force Scholarship Athlete.

Isabella was Class President, Student Council Officer, President of National Honor Society, participated in the Page Turners, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Student Athletic Association, and Masterminds.

Sports was also a part of Isabella’s High School years, participating in Soccer, Basketball and Tennis.

Volunteering contributed to Isabella qualifications, a Bell Ringer for The Salvation Army, waitressed for Byron Presbyterian Turkey Dinner Church, Brayden Day of Play, Christmas Craft Show, Halloween in the Park, Secret Santa, cleanup at the cemetery, and Friends of Strong.

Isabella has been accepted at University of Rochester majoring in Bio-Medical Sciences and Anthropology. Her ultimate goal is Pediatrics.

Isabella states ”I am a strong Italian-American, and I take everything my family worked towards and I will keep it close to my heart."

Batavia High School Class of 2020 senior Megan Elizabeth Smith (left) is the daughter of Jason and Lori Smith and the oldest of three. She's an excellent role model for her siblings.

Megan will be attending Niagara University in the Fall majoring in Education, specializing in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

A member of Resurrection Parish, where she is a kindergarten and first-grade Faith Formation instructor. This opportunity brightens her day, reassuring Megan that the choice of teaching will fulfill her.

Megan's accomplishments include: membership in the National Honor Society; working in Student Government and serving as a Student Representative; and participating in Rochester Youth Broadway Theatre, where she received Tip of the Hat recognition for stage crew exhibits.

She also participated in JV soccer, JV track, and band.

Volunteering is also a part of Megan’s life, she assisted at the John Kennedy Primary School Pasta Night, Applebee's Pancake Breakfast, Meals on Wheels, BHS Stage Crew and Link Crew Leader.

"Without my family, I would not be the person I am today!" Megan said. "Now that is Italian!"

A graduating senior of the 2020 Class of Batavia Senior High School, Jacob Torcello (right), is the son of Jack and Danielle Torcello.

"Being a member of an Italian family encourages everyone to work together to keep it running," Jacob said, and he exemplifies this in his studies, volunteer services and sports.

He's a member of the National Honor Society and participated in indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, summer soccer, BHS soccer and cross-country.

Jake demonstrated his leadership as a team captain for indoor and outdoor track and field.

Jacob has volunteered for Team Literacy Extended Year program, Breakfast with Santa, Z-club, Spring cleanup at St. Joseph Cemetery and at the Bethany Presbyterian Church.

A member of Ascension Parish, Jacob has helped at fundraisers and Bingo.

Jacob said “that his family has taught him to trust and love them and himself and it will help to overcome any problems that comes his way!”

Jacob will be attending SUNY Brockport, majoring in Education.

May 7, 2020 - 8:02pm

Everyone has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. While we are all having different experiences, most of us can empathize with the heartache of high school seniors as their final academic year is cut short.

No prom, no traditional graduation, no final chance to take that SAT one more time, no chance for that banner season (or not) during Spring sports — the list goes on.  

Pembroke High School alumna, mom and community member Jessi Boardman found a way to shine a light on what has become a clouded senior year for the teens.  

The inspiration was triggered by the announcement on May 1 that there would not be a return to school this year in New York State. Boardman set about appealing to local residents to determine if anyone in addition to herself was interested in an "Adopt-A-Senior" program.

The response was overwhelming.

A Facebook page was started to promote the program and within 24 hours all 79 graduating PHS seniors had been adopted!

Those who adopt a senior can shower the student with anything special that comes to mind — gifts, letters, social media posts, recognition — whatever inspires them. All in an effort to do something special for each and every senior.

“It’s been a very cool thing,” Boardman said, as she has watched the community come together to support the effort and give the seniors a “joyful distraction from the current situation.”

The camaraderie on the page is great and the kids “feel the community love, even as they suffer the loss of having been cheated out of the full experience of senior year.”

Boardman hopes that other local schools will jump on board and develop a similar program for their seniors. This is an opportunity to make it special for them.

As she said, “everyone has a connection with senior year being one of the best parts of their life. These kids are missing out …it resonates with all of us and gives us a way to express the great pride we have in our community. It’s been a very cool thing!”

(Photo courtesy of Tammy Richley​.)

April 22, 2020 - 3:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Class of 2020, Batavia HS, batavia, news, video.
Video Sponsor

For the Class of 2020, the traditional rites of spring, such as prom, and commencement ceremonies jeopardized, parents and teachers have been looking for other ways to celebrate the accomplishments of this year's graduates.

Yesterday, staff and teachers at Batavia High School drove to the homes of seniors and installed law signs to help recognize those on the cusp of receiving diplomas.

The effort was initiated by Kristen Fix.

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