Skip to main content

pembroke high school

Food Truck Rally at Pembroke High this Friday to celebrate 10th year of Shooting For A Cure to fight breast cancer

By Billie Owens

Pembroke High School's Lady Dragons Varsity and Junior Varsity Basketball teams will host a Food Truck Rally this Friday as part of their 10th anniversary celebrating their participation in Shooting For A Cure.

A portion of sales will be donated to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to help fight breast cancer.

All are welcome to enjoy some delicious food and enter for a chance to win some amazing prizes.

The event will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at Pembroke High School, located at 8750 Alleghany Road in Pembroke.

Here's a partial list of participating trucks:

  • The Cheesy Chick
  • Buffalo's Best Grill & Catering
  • Babz BBQ
  • Center Street Smokehouse
  • Pub Coffee Hub

Lady Dragons' Shooting For A Cure! to mark 10th year with big goal: to raise $48K

By Press Release

Press release:

The Pembroke Jr./Sr. High School Girls Basketball Team is currently organizing their 10th annual Shooting For A Cure! game in support of funding research efforts at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

We're extremely excited that we will be able to help raise funds and awareness for cancer research at Roswell Park.

Over the past nine seasons, our small community has raised more than $152,000 for cancer research at Roswell Park and we hope to uphold this benevolent tradition. Shooting For A Cure! has become one of Roswell Park’s largest community-based fundraising events.

This year, the team hopes to break the $200,000 mark in total funds raised since the event’s inception, setting their most ambitious goal to date.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions we will not be able to pack the hallways or the gymnasium as we've always done in the past; however we're trying to take a creative approach!

This year's game will be Pembroke vs. Oakfield-Alabama starting at 7 p.m., Friday, March 5 in the Pembroke high gym, located at the corner of routes 5 and 77 (8750 Alleghany Road).

Due to current statewide COVID-19 restrictions, admission to the game is by school-issued passes only, with two immediate family members per player in attendance.

This year, the team hopes to break the $200,000 mark in total funds raised since the event’s inception, setting their most ambitious goal to date.

The team is currently accepting online donations in support of Shooting For A Cure! To make a donation, please visit:

There will be several other ways to support the cause this year. The team has partnered with 26Shirts from Buffalo, a local company that designs and sells apparel items to benefit those in need. To date, 26Shirts has raised $1,057,788 for local families, foundations and organizations.

This year’s apparel sale will run through Sunday, Feb. 14th and all proceeds will directly benefit cancer research at Roswell Park. If you’re interested in limited edition, 10th annual Shooting For A Cure! gear, please visit:

Shooting For A Cure! began 10 years ago when the Pembroke Girls’ Varsity Basketball team approached then Head Coach Mike Wilson with an idea to show their support for Toni Funke, wife of beloved coach and Pembroke teacher Ron Funke in her battle against breast cancer. They wanted to play a game in her honor to raise money for cancer research.

Since then, Shooting For A Cure! has blossomed into a huge community event attracting supporters from throughout Western New York. Regardless of how large the event has grown, the goal remains the same: show support for community members in the fight against cancer.

Toni Funke, who initially inspired the Shooting For A Cure! event said, “The most important part of the event is feeling the love and support from the organizers of this event, the team and the entire community. From the beginning, Pembroke as a whole has really shown that we’ve got each other’s backs. Cancer affects everyone. We're all in this together. We stand together as a community, willing to fight the good fight.”

Toni’s husband, and current Pembroke Coach Ron Funke added, “I take this game very personally. Shooting For A Cure! started with Toni’s diagnosis and that original team wanting to show their love and support for Toni and our family. It’s the foundation of it all. That act of love then, and still to this day, is extremely powerful; it's overwhelming. To watch how this event has continued to grow every year inspires me.”

When reflecting on Shooting For A Cure! and its impact, Ryan Winchip, Pembroke’s athletic director said, “I don't think it’s about how much money gets raised; it’s more about honoring the people that have battled this disease and bringing a community together as well as the special moments that people share -- tears of joy, tears of sadness, taking a minute to remember family members, and honoring members of the community on the court.

"I think it’s all about that halftime ceremony and getting to recognize those brave survivors along with remembering our loved ones that are no longer with us.”

WBTA has jumped in to help with an AM/FM broadcast of the game. Pembroke will be setting up a live video feed of the game from the gymnasium.

Mr. Brown, our dedicated Snack Shack coordinator, has been reaching out to local food trucks in hopes of setting up a "Food Truck Rally" in support of the event. The Cheesy Chick, Buffalo Best Grill, Center Street Smokehouse, and a few additional trucks have volunteered to set up in the school parking lot on March 5th from 4-8 p.m. and will not only serve food to our community, but also donate a percentage of proceeds to cancer research at Roswell Park.

Additional fundraising ideas remain in the works as the team and event organizers hope to put together innovative raffle options for both in-person and virtual spectators and supporters.

Generous donors have continued to step up, donating newly released Apple products, Amazon gift cards, autographed sports memorabilia, and gift certificates to local restaurants, themed-baskets, and handcrafted items. Walt Disney World again has donated Park Hopper passes to our event, and Pesci’s Pizza and Wings recently donated an "Office Pizza Party for 12" as a way to help raise funds for cancer research.

The team has considered taking a themed approach to this year’s fundraising effort; however details remain fluid as they continue to coordinate the next phase of this effort.

The 2020-2021 Shooting For A Cure! business and organization donors list includes:

  • 26Shirts
  • ACES Foundation
  • ADPRO Sports
  • Buffalo Best Grill
  • Buttercrumbs Bakery
  • Center Street Smoke House
  • Clarence Deli
  • Dollars for Scholars
  • Dry Creek Group
  • Genesee Feeds
  • Hershey’s Ice Cream
  • Insty-Prints
  • Knockaround Sunglasses
  • Linda’s Family Diner
  • Northtown Automotive
  • Original Pizza Logs
  • Pesci’s Pizza and Wings
  • Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
  • Sincerely Kayla
  • Terry Hills
  • The Cheesy Chick
  • Tim Hortons
  • Walt Disney World
  • WBTA
  • YMCA of Batavia

We remain in need of donation items for our raffle, as well as monetary donations in support of our Shooting For A Cure! mission that directly funds cancer research at Roswell Park.

Community members, local businesses or organizations wishing to donate to this year’s event should contact Mike Wilson by calling (716) 949-0523.

For more information, please go to:





Pembroke Central School District: Shooting For A Cure!

ABOUT PEMBROKE HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS’ VARSITY BASKETBALL TEAM: The Pembroke High School Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team is comprised of nine young women. This season’s captains are Serene Calderon and Emily Peters. The Lady Dragons are coached by Ron Funke and Guy Gabbey. The team colors are green, white and black. The team began Shooting For A Cure! as an annual event in 2011, and they are committed to the hard work and dedication it will take to win the battle against breast cancer.

ABOUT ROSWELL PARK COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER: According to its website, “All donations made to Roswell Park are managed by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that ensures that every donation is put to the best possible use. The Alliance Foundation has been recognized numerous times for these efforts.”

Top and bottom photos: Front -- Karli Houseknecht (25), Allyson DuBois-Rider (30), Serene Calderón (10), Emily Peters (32), Sydney Johnson (11). Back: Ariel Moss (50), Allie Schwerthoffer (14), Nicole Von Kramer (23), Isabel Breeden (2).

Pembroke community acts fast, blazes a trail to 'adopt' senior Dragons

By Jeanne Walton

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​.)

Pembroke wins back-to-back sectional titles over Letchworth 52-37

By Steve Ognibene


The Lady Dragons knew going into this game not to underestimate the 11th seed Letchworth Indians Saturday afternoon at Gates Chili High School where the Class C1 Section V division title was on the line. 

Both teams tested each other’s game plan and remained even through the first quarter with Letchworth leading 10-9 after 1. Pembroke’s Emily Peters led the team with three three-point buckets along with a couple buckets by Dekari Moss and Serene Calderon to get a nine-point lead into halftime 29-20.

Brooke Degroff scored twice for Letchworth in the second quarter and finished third in points on the afternoon with eight. The Indians could not connect in the second quarter with some missed shots and Pembroke's defense holding tight in the paint.

Second half the Indians kept the Dragons scoreless through the first four minutes of play. Dana Callaro hit a big three-point bucket to ignite Letchworth on a ball controlling third quarter where the Indians were on a roll, hitting four more points in the paint. Pembroke did not give in and after a timeout was called they seesawed the points with Letchworth to lead by one -- with the score at 35-34 after three periods of play.

Fourth quarter Pembroke tightened their defense and, like the second quarter, Letchworth's luck was running out. Many missed field goals helped the Dragons capitalize and Serene hit a big three-point bucket to lift the lead to four and go on a point-scoring streak. Indians got into foul trouble, Dekari Moss and MacKenna Johnson both scored buckets and free throws to help the team win the game and back-to-back titles in two years.

Calderon finished the game with sixteen points, Peters 15 points and Moss 14 points for the Dragons. Indians' scorers Bliss and Callaro had 11 and 9 points, respectively.

Photos by Thomas Ognibene via Steve Ognibene Photography.

To view or purchase prints click here.






Musical parody 'Monty Python's Spamalot' opens tonight at Pembroke HS

By Billie Owens
Submitted photos and information.
Pembroke High School Theatre Arts Department presents the comedy musical spoof "Monty Python's Spamalot" tonight at 7:30, with two performances on Saturday as well, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Come watch Monty Python's musical adapted from the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian legend.
The setting: England 932 A.D. -- A Kingdom divided. To the West the Anglo-Saxons, to the East the French. Above -- nothing but Celts and some people from Scotland. In Gwynned, Powys, and Dyfed -- the Plague. In the kingdoms of Wessex, Sussex, Essex and Kent -- you guessed it, more Plague. In Mercia and the two Anglias -- alas, Plague.
The plot: With a 50-percent chance of pestilence and famine coming out of the Northeast at 12 mph. Legend tells us of an extraordinary leader, who arose from the chaos, to unite a troubled kingdom. A man with a vision who gathered Knights together in a Holy Quest. This man was Arthur, King of the Britons. For this was England!
"Monty Python's Spamalot" (This show has a suggested rating of PG-13.) in the auditorium, 8750 Alleghany Road, Corfu:
  • Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 9 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at 
Presale tickets are $7 and $9.
Tickets at the door are $8 and $10.

Photos: Pembroke loses home opener to Attica 40-0

By Steve Ognibene


Attica Blue Devils came out strong the first few minutes of the first quarter, leading 20-0 on a couple touchdowns by senior running back Hunter McCulloch, who added 117 yards on 11 carries.

Pembroke failed to convert turning the ball over on an interception and fumbles early in the first half. Attica led the half 20-0.

In the second half, Attica continued to move through Pembroke's defense led by senior quarterback Kyle Casey, who added points in the air and ground to seniors Cody D'Arconte and tight end Dawson Nelson, winning the game 40-0. 

Attica moves to 1-0 and their next game is home Friday night vs. Alexander at 7 p.m.

Pembroke drops to 0-1 and plays next Saturday 7 p.m. vs. Oakfield / Elba in Oakfield.

For more photos and to purchase go to: Steve Ognibene Photography






To purchase prints, click here.

Pembroke High School art instructor helps students to succeed beyond the classroom

By Traci Turner


(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. 

Chimney sweep in Pembroke's 'Mary Poppins' meets challenge of deafness straight-ahead and chin up

By laurie napoleone

Elisha Muir will be playing the key role of chimney sweep Bert in the classic musical "Mary Poppins" later this week at Pembroke School. Though Elisha is no stranger to the stage -- he has been in a number of Pembroke productions as well as Batavia Players -- this will be sort of a new experience for him.

Last summer he went suddenly and profoundly deaf, possibly due to a virus. He's since been on a remarkable journey -- diagnosis, surgery, learning, re-learning and preparing for his role.

He will be hearing with new ears, so to speak, made possible with surgical implants. The result is sure to delight the listening audience, starting Thursday night.

In early August last year, Elisha was working when he felt “off balance” and was diagnosed with vertigo. This dizziness progressed and with it he started to experience hearing loss -- first in the right ear, then in the left. In a few short weeks, just prior to the start of his senior year, Elisha was deaf.

He had been to a number of physicians and they are theorizing that a virus found its way into the cochlea, which led to a condition known as vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis.

“They think this is what happened but the doctors really don’t know," he said.

The start of the school year posed a challenge and Elisha had to change his course schedule and missed some class time due to numerous appointments and surgery. Elisha could have opted to be home tutored while going through this, but chose to continue in school making changes as necessary. Jody Benatovich, Elisha’s mother, credited Pembroke School in promptly assisting Elisha with necessary accommodations.

In October, only a month after the start of school and a day before his 18th birthday, Elisha underwent surgery and received bilateral cochlear implants. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that helps to create sound and makes it possible for the wearer to hear again. A microphone, worn behind the ear picks up the sound and sends a message to a speech processor, which is worn on the body. This then changes the sound into information that gets transmitted via the implant to the brain.

At first, Elisha said “that all sound came in at once…I had and continue to practice listening in different environments."

In November, Elisha auditioned for "Mary Poppins" despite his inability to hear himself sing.

“Singing without hearing, is like driving without your eyes," he said.

With the help of his music director, Dan Reisdorf, Elisha has been preparing to play the role of the loveable character Bert in the upcoming play. Residorf used special music education techniques (i.e. solfege, audiation) to assist Elisha when he had lost his hearing.  

The most amazing thing about Elisha is his attitude about this significant and swift change in his life.

“It is something that 'is', not something that has to be overcome," Elisha said, matter-of-factly. "It’s a different fork in the road.”

He continues to make progress and is making plans to study anthropology after graduation. He's looking at University of  Buffalo or Rochester Institute of Technology (National Institute for the Deaf). His mom said he has maintained a good attitude throughout this ordeal, which has been inspirational for both her and Elisha’s sister.

“Elisha’s ability to maintain his sense of humor and strong work ethic throughout his senior year has been impressive and admirable," Reisdorf said.

As Elisha takes the stage for the first time fitted with his cochlear implants, listening and feeling rhythmically for his cues, he will be joined by a talented cast.

The leading lady is Harmony Bordinaro, who has the title role of Mary Poppins. Harmony participated in the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) for Musical Theatre and was an alto in the NYSSMA All-State Chorus this past December. Her plan is to major in Musical Theater in Florida.

Matthew Kowalski, who plays Mr. George Banks, appeared in last year's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" as Jimmy Smith. Matthew plans to attend college for music composition.

Emilee Houseknecht, who impressed the audience last year as the lead character Millie Dillmount, returns as the wonderful Mrs. Winnifred Banks.

Jane and Michael Banks are being played by seventh-graders Brianna Warrant and Michael Pfenninger, newcomers who have stepped into their roles beautifully. Juniors Alison Reiner (Mrs. Brill) Greg Pelkey (Robertson Ay) and Quinn Audsley (Miss Andrew) bring new characters to life from the original book by P.L. Travers.

"Mary Poppins" runs March 5th, 6th and 7th at 7:30 p.m. with an added matinee at 2 p.m. on March 7. Tickets are $8 for students and senior citizens, and $10 for adults and can be purchased at

Pembroke Varsity Soccer vs Holly

By Rick D. Franclemont

Pembroke boys varsity soccer team started out strong, scoring the first goal, in their game against the Holly Hawks.  Holly came back in the first half, scoring a goal of their own.

The second half was all Holly , as the Hawks scored 4 more times.

Pembroke HS girls' basketball team takes on Attica tonight in benefit to battle breast cancer

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Breast cancer is a life-threatening opponent that has significantly impacted the rural community of Pembroke. As a result, a group of Pembroke High School athletes has decided to challenge the invasive disease by doing what it does best -- play basketball.

Tonight at 7, the Pembroke High School Girls' Varsity Basketball Team will take to the court for a “Shooting for a Cure" benefit basketball game against Attica High School to raise money for breast cancer research.

The high school is located at 8750 Alleghany Road (Route 77) in Corfu.

Local country music talent Maddie Larkin will perform the national anthem and Buster Bison will be on hand to lead the cheerleading fun.

The Pembroke team is also partnering with a number of area businesses to make this event possible including:

  • Impressive Marks -- creating custom-designed apparel for Pembroke teams and fans
  • D & D Printing -- providing game fliers, posters and programs
  • Next Generation Vending -- donating food to sell
  • Pizza Pantry -- donating discounted pizzas for sale
  • Great Erie Federal Credit Union -- donating popcorn for sale
  • SUBWAY® -- donating drinks for sale
  • The Walt Disney Company, donating Disney Theme Park passes as a fund-raising giveaway

According to Coach Mike Wilson, all proceeds from the fund-raising portion of the game will be presented to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).

“We are a small school in a rural district and our team has to consistently work to raise money for most everything we need, including our warm-ups and team sneakers,” Wilson said. “But this time, the girls wanted to do something different, something they felt was truly helpful for our school and those affiliated with our Pembroke community who have been so widely impacted by breast cancer diagnoses.

"To their credit they are putting together an amazing fundraiser in partnership with some very generous businesses and organizations.”

RPCI has officially sanctioned “Shooting For A Cure,” and Cindy Eller, executive director of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, acknowledges the significance of the grassroots fundraiser.

“It’s wonderful when young people, such as these Pembroke students, come together to make a difference in the lives of those facing cancer,” Eller said. “And for the girls to go out and enlist the support of businesses for donations to help raise money, truly speaks to the character of the team, their families, the school and the Pembroke community at large.

"We are honored by their efforts in the name of critically needed breast cancer research.”

To help the Pembroke team with their Shooting for the Cure fundraiser, The Walt Disney Company has donated a family 4-pack of 3-day tickets to their Disney Orlando Parks (value of $1,000.) Chances for the tickets will be sold at the game with the winning ticket drawn at halftime. Winner must be present to claim the prize.

The Pembroke High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team is comprised of 12 outstanding girls, ages 15 to 18. Their 2011-12 captains are Breanna Johnson and Randi Dellapenta. Team colors are green and black and their nickname is "The Dragons."

The team’s motto is "Family-Hustle-Winning." The team has undertaken Shooting for a Cure as a unified family and they are committed to hard work and winning, not only in the games they play, but in the battle against breast cancer.

Pembroke district lobbied by soccer-playing boys to bring the sport back to school

By Howard B. Owens

Pembroke High School has no varsity boys soccer team and a group of students at the school think that ought to change.

More than three dozen students and parents crowded into the district's board meeting Tuesday night to make sure the trustees clearly understand, there is support and desire to see boys soccer return to the school.

Tina Curtis (pictured above), the mother of one of the boys who wants to play soccer for his school, presented a feasibility study that shows soccer is a lot less expensive than football and isn't likely to sap talent from that squad.

The study was requested by the school administration after a group of boys in the school began making their wishes known.

"The boys came tonight to let the board and the district know that their interest is sincere and that they would really like to have the ability to play soccer in high school," Curtis said.

The trustees will discuss the proposal at their March 22 meeting.

Pembroke, though it has a girls soccer team, has been without a boys team for about 15 years.

That robs many boys of a chance to participate in varsity sports in the fall, Curtis said, because most of the soccer players have no interest in playing football or running cross-country.

Her study found that of the 29 boys in the school who expressed an interest in playing soccer, only four play football and only one runs cross-country.

Pembroke is the only Section V Class C school without both soccer and football.

In Genesee County, only Pembroke and Oakfield-Alabama don't have boys soccer. Alexander recently started a boys soccer team.

The study notes that with league and section permission, schools can combine teams, and both O-A and Alexander officials have expressed interest in exploring the idea of a combined team with Pembroke.

While football costs Pembroke $43,000 a year, the cost of a soccer team wouldn't be much more than $6,000. Cross-country costs $6,500 and boys volleyball, $4,000, according to the study.

"The administration agrees with us that the cost of funding soccer here Pembroke is not substantial," Curtis said. "That’s not a big barrier to bringing it back to school."

The biggest barrier, Curtis said, is the decline in school enrollment, but that's a problem similarly sized schools throughout Section V are facing. Their solution hasn't been to eliminate sports, but to combine programs -- merging JV with either modified or varsity programs, for example.

For Pembroke football, the program has declined from 71 JV and varsity participants in 2000 to 49 in 2010. In both years, that participation level represented 28 percent of the school's male population. In both years, Pembroke won 70 percent of their games.

According to the study, schools with both varsity football and soccer have better football winning records than schools with only football programs.

Schools with both programs don't really compete for students, the study found.

"Holley Central School and Alexander Central School added a football or soccer program to their existing fall sports," reads the report. "In conversations with Alexander and Holley athletic directors, it has been observed that the impact on the existing sport was negligible. In the words of James Palermo, Holley's athletic director, over the 10 years the school offered both programs, the crossover was insignificant. Soccer players and football players are two different types of kids."

Gabriel Birkby (pictured, inset) said he and a lot of his friends just want to play soccer.

"We have a lot of great guys, well-rounded men who are kind of deprived of a high school sporting experience," said Birkby. "I’m kind of hoping that the board and administration see it in favor of the students so that a soccer team is reestablished here Pembroke."

He said the boys will continue to let trustees and administrators know that they are serious about wanting to play soccer.

"I think (it will take) a lot of convincing and a lot of the boys pushing toward getting a team," he said. "If there’s no push there’s going to be no pressure on the board to try and get a team in there."

Pembroke high students hear about Holocaust firsthand

By Billie Owens

Here is a submission from the students in Pembroke High School's War and Holocaust Class. On Dec. 2 and again on Dec. 6, the class was visited by Ed Wiater, a local World War II veteran. Here's his story as related by the students he spoke with.

Mr. (Ed) Wiater grew up in North Tonawanda, and was drafted into military service. He eventually ended up with the 7th Army in the 14th Armored Division, and was part of a reconnaissance element that was given the task of finding the Germans.

As Mr. Wiater told us, “finding them wasn’t a problem!”

While serving in Europe during the spring of 1945, Mr. Wiater was sent to the area around Dachau, Germany. He explained to the students that the American forces had no idea what Dachau (a concentration camp) was, but that, “a putrid smell hung in the air.”

He vividly remembers the emaciated victims who seemed to simply come out of nowhere, and the box cars that were full of over 2,800 victims of Hitler's Third Reich. 

After being wounded just five days before the war was over, Mr. Waiter was sent to a hospital in Nice, France. Upon his recuperation, he was stationed near Dachau, and returned to the camp where over 35,000 victims of genocide perished.

Being fluent in Polish, Mr. Wiater was able to converse with the Polish soldiers who were at Dachau. They gave him a “tour” of this horrific mass murder site. He shared with the class that he stood in the gas chambers and crematoria; he witnessed the infamous “hanging tree” where hundreds of people were hanged for no reason at all.

He discussed how the inmates of Dachau were tortured by the prison guards and whipped for trying to simply help fellow inmates. Mr. Wiater’s message was one of remembrance.

We must never forget the mass genocide that was perpetrated in Europe from 1933-45 because those that condemn the past are doomed to repeat it, and as he pointed out, “the world did not learn from the Holocaust. Genocide has occurred again and again.”

Mr. Wiater came home from the war, and took advantage of the GI Bill. He enrolled in college, and eventually moved back to his hometown of North Tonawanda, where he became a journalist. He became the editor of the Courier Express (which ceased publication in 1982) in Buffalo. He continues to write editorial pieces for newspapers around the Buffalo area.

Mr. Wiater also was elected as a two-term mayor of North Tonawanda.

He has taken nearly 20 trips to Poland to help teach conversational English to polish students because as he said, “they know and can write English, but speaking it is a different ballgame.”

While on these trips, Mr. Wiater has made trips to numerous death camps across Poland and has paid respect to the nearly 6 million victims of the Holocaust.

The Pembroke War and Holocaust class was exceptionally fortunate for these two days to listen to the brief, yet so educational and enriching, story of a WWII vet named Ed Wiater.

 --The Pembroke Central War and Holocaust Class

News Round Up: Le Roy eliminates village dispatch

By Howard B. Owens

From today's Daily News:

  • Scott DeSmit reports that Le Roy trustees voted Wednesday to merge its dispatch operations with the county. Trustees hope to transfer some jobs to county dispatch, but recognize that may difficult since Batavia agreed to the same consolidation previously and is already slated to transfer two jobs.
  • Cold War veterans may get a tax break. The County Legislature is pursuing a 10 percent tax credit on the first $60,000 of a home's accessed value for Cold War veterans.  The Batavian posted on this story two weeks ago.
  • Holli Gass, 17, when she graduates from Pembroke High School, will represent the fifth generation from her family to graduate from a school in the Pembroke district.  Kristen Kotz, a Daily News intern, wrote a nice feature story on the family.  It's the center package of today's paper.  Nice clip, Kristen.
  • The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council at 201 E. Main St. will host a "Building a Vibrant Community Identity" workshop from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., June 5.  It's all about "building a brand" that people remember is geared primarily toward non-profits, but writer Joanne Beck suggests that some commercial businesses are participating.  The deadline to register is Monday.
  • Hot Shot's Caffe has opened a second location at 56 Harveter Ave., according to an article on page A2.
  • Scott DeSmit passes along a reminder from fire officials to check your smoke detector.  You want to make sure your smoke detector doesn't have a dead battery or otherwise won't function properly in an emergency.
  • A letter to the editor from Rose M. Ruhlman praises Lt. Eugene Jankowski and questions the wisdom of passing him over for the chief-of-police role.  She makes good points.  The Batavian broke the story last week that Jankowski was apparently out of contention for top post.
  • Former Buffalo Bills guard Joe DeLamielleure will be at Terry Hills Golf Course from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday signing autographs.  Joe D. is in town for the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic, which takes place Monday at Terry Hills.
  • Former Batavian Patric Donaghue was inducted into the Rochester United States Bowling Association Hall of Fame.  Before moving to Rochester in 1981, Donaghue started his bowling career at Mancuso Lanes.

The Daily News is available at local news stands, including at Main Street Coffee, and you should subscribe, and can do so on the Daily News web site.

Authentically Local