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st. joseph's school

Psst, Mammoth is here, including a sneak peek Friday evening

By Joanne Beck


What do a pedal car, antique doll, photo of Elvis, and a World War II-era newspaper have in common?

They’re all going to be part of the Mammoth Thrift Shop this weekend, of course. What began as a way to deal with the massive crowds during COVID protocols has become another seasonal tradition, organizer John Bowen said.

"We had to change the dynamics once COVID hit," he said.

The sale is set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at St. Joseph’s School at the corner of Summit and East Main streets, Batavia. All proceeds benefit the school.

The pandemic and social distancing meant no jam-packed cafeteria, which is what the yearly Mammoth Sale drew, he said. So that sale was divvied up, and the shop opened up on the first weekend in February and remained open for most weekends until Black Friday, he said.

The regular Mammoth sales will still happen the first weekend after Easter and in July, featuring the larger items such as patio furniture. That’s not to say shoppers will be disappointed with what’s in store this weekend, he said.

Bowen and fellow volunteer Norm Argulsky have been setting up displays of antiques — 1900s and later, including a pedal car, cash register, collectible dolls, rock'em sock'em robots, signed memorabilia of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, Barbie dolls from the 1970s, red, green and blue glass; handmade bears, collectible dolls in original boxes, high-end toys, Barbie accessories, and much more, he said.

“People know our sale,” Bowen said. “There’s something for everybody. Every penny goes back to the school.”

“A stack of newspapers from World War II up, chairs, tables, lamps, nice pictures, dining tables, and end tables,” he said. “We have a three-in-one poker table. There's also a dining table and a puzzle table.”

And he wasn’t done. There are tons of glassware, purses, watches, books, CDs,  farmer’s gear, overalls, a kitchen room with utensils, appliances, coffee makers, toasters, rolling pins, and theme tables: St. Patty’s, Valentine’s and Easter.

There is also a collection of religious items — rosaries, statues, Bibles — and those are being donated upon request.

“It’s a whole different setup, it’s a way to get the community involved,” he said. “We’re taking donations 24/7. People can leave them on the covered porch between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.”

Donations may include clothing, pillows, jewelry, recliners, loveseats, bedding, and most anything except for bulky items, such as old TVs, bowling balls and big couches.

There will be a sneak peek, he said, from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday. So feel free to visit and check out the goods this evening.

Photos by Howard Owens.








St. Joseph School inducts new members into its National Junior Honor Society

By Billie Owens

Press release:

St. Joseph School inducted new members into its Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) last week.

With help from the school's current NJHS members, new inductees were welcomed into the NJHS at a ceremony held at St. Joseph Church. The NJHS serves to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, character, and citizenship. For 10 years, the students in the NJHS at St. Joe’s have been helping the Batavia community by holding fundraisers and providing services for many different organizations.

To be considered for a nomination into this Society, seventh-grade students had to maintain an average of 94 or above and eighth-grade students had to maintain an average of 90 or above. These students then had to apply for membership showcasing their accomplishments and service over the past few years. After careful review and consideration, the St. Joe’s NJHS faculty council selected this year’s inductees.

Congratulations to seventh-grade students Nathanael Brew, Colin McCulley, Aiden Sisson, Lucia Sprague, Steven Zocco, and to eighth-grade students Donato Fiorentino, Colin Kratz, Ava Reinhart and Maxwell Tenney.

St. Joe's annual Spelling Bee results - 'spaghetti' was the winning word

By Billie Owens

Press release:

St. Joseph Catholic School's sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders participated in our annual Spelling Bee; below are those who placed in the top seven:

7th place: David Doan, of Batavia
6th place: Faith Falkowski, of Batavia
5th place: Rachel Nickerson, of Elba
4th Place: Spencer Misiti, of Batavia
3rd Place: Isabelle Cooper, of Pavillon
2nd Place: Bella March, of Batavia
1st Place: Adryona Miller, of Albion

The winning word was, "spaghetti."

Sponsored Post: St. Joseph School will celebrate Catholic Schools’ week starting on Sunday January 26th

By Lisa Ace

St. Joseph School will celebrate Catholic Schools’ Week starting on Sunday January 26th with an Open House at 10 a.m. followed by a Family Mass and lunch provided by Subway. The Open House is for all prospective students and pre-registration is not required.

The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2014 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” The theme encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of a Catholic education. First, schools are communities — small families in their own right, but also members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation. Faith, knowledge and service are three measures by which any Catholic school can and should be judged. There is no better way to invest in a child’s future — or the future of our world.

In recognition of Catholic Schools' Week, students will participate in Crazy Hat and/or Hair Day on Monday. Parents are encouraged to join their children for lunch that day and play Bingo. On Tuesday, K-2 students will visit the YMCA for activities including swimming, group exercises and fun in the bounce house. Students in grades 3-8 will go bowling at Mancuso Lanes. Wednesday is Pajama/Movie day and on Thursday students will participate in “House” activities including dancing, trivia, and making Valentine’s gifts for Veterans. The week will wrap up on Friday with a 7th/8th grade Basketball Game and participation in Jump Rope for Heart. The festivities will conclude with a Family Dance on Friday night at the school.

To find out more about St. Joseph School, the Open House or Catholic School’s Week, visit or call 343-6154.

St. Joseph's School Handbell Choir performs at annual Christmas Concert

By Alecia Kaus


St Joseph's School Handbell Choir performs "Angels We Have Heard on High" for the Christmas Concert Dec. 17, 2013. The group is directed by Kae Woodruff Wilbert.

From left: Matthew Zehler, Jaylee Maniscalco, Matthew Stevens, Benjamin Paserk, Samuel Bowman, Faith Falkowski, Mark Hoerbelt, Mary Warner, and Mary Kochmanski.

Other members of the Choir are: Amanda Bergman, Ariana de Sa e Frias, Doria Gallison, Jennifer Miller, Rachel Nickerson, Katherine Warner, Katelyn Zehler, Kaylyn Carlson, Christopher Gualtieri and Hannah Gualtieri.

K-Kids at St. Joseph's are raising money by selling pies

By Billie Owens

The K-Kids from St. Joseph's School are having a fundraiser by taking orders for Bob Evans pies. They are $10 and will be ready in time for Christmas.

The pies will be unmarked so you can serve them and take credit for making them!

Order forms are available at the school or you can order from Anita Strollo via e-mail <>

Orders need to be placed by Dec. 17 and pick up for pies will be at Bob Evans restaurant on Dec. 21. All Checks should be payable to Bob Evans.

Your pie choices are:

  • Apple Crumb
  • Pumpkin
  • Pecan

Let's help make this a success for our K-Kids! Thanks!

St. Joe's 53rd annual Popcorn Ball is Oct. 13, theme is 'Taste of Genesee'

By Billie Owens

St. Joseph Catholic School will honor alumni Judge Robert Balbick and M&T Bank Regional President Dan Burns at its 53rd annual Popcorn Ball on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the school. Three volunteers will also be honored for their service. They are Jamee Logsdon, Michelle Cryer, and Maria Streeter.

The theme of this year’s event is “A Taste of Genesee” and will feature food from nine different restaurants and caterers.

This year’s Popcorn Ball will feature food from some of the area’s most popular restaurants along with prizes from Darien Lake and Palm Island Indoor Water Park. This year’s menu includes:

Seafood Bisque from Terry Hills
Fried Calamari from Alex's Place
Smoked Chicken Wings from Duke's Smokin' Bone
BBQ Ribs from Clor's
Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Center Street Smoke House
Mini Beef on Weck from T.F. Brown's
Mini Beef Wellington from Larry's Steak House
Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo from Bob Evans
Eggplant Parmesan & Pasta Primavera from Penna's Catering

Tickets are $60/couple and currently available at the school. You can also reserve a table of 10 by visiting or calling 343-6154.

About the honorees...

Judge Robert Balbick graduated from St. Joseph Catholic School in 1963, going on to earn a degree from Canisius College and his J.D. from Albany Law School. Judge Balbick was admitted to the bar in 1975 and became a Batavia City Court Judge in 1992. He was instrumental in creating Genesee County’s Drug Court, which gives those with substance-abuse problems a chance for recovery. Robert and his wife, Jane, have three children -- Kristen, who is a lawyer; Michael, who currently works in the banking industry, and Katie, who works for UMMC.

Dan Burns graduated from St Joseph Catholic School in 1978, going on to graduate from St. Bonaventure University and earn an MBA from Columbia. He was first hired by M&T in 1986 and currently services as a regional president while managing the M&T Charitable Foundation. Dan is past chair and current board member of Greater Rochester Enterprise and YMCA of Greater Rochester; he is vice chair at the Monroe Community College Foundation; he is a board member of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Flaum Eye Institute and St. John Fisher College. Dan currently lives in Rochester with his wife, Denise, and has two sons and a daughter.

Jamee Logsdon is part owner of Baltz Concrete of Pavilion and has spent countless hours supporting events like the Popcorn Ball and the Mammoth Sale and once waded into water that was ankle deep to fix a plumbing problem prior to a major event at the school. He has also served on several committees and supported numerous fundraisers. Jamee, along with his wife, Seana, their daughter, Kaitlin (SJS Class of 2009), and son Connor (SJS Class of 2013) live in Batavia.

Michelle Cryer and Maria Streeter are known as the “Dynamic Duo of Bingo” and have managed to turn Friday night bingo into a successful fundraiser for the school. Both have chaired the annual Popcorn Ball and have volunteered to do everything from painting to assisting with the construction of the school store. Michelle and her husband, Matt, live in Batavia with their three children, James (SJS Class of 2011), Jacob (SJS Class of 2013), and Jocelyn (SJS Class of 2016). Maria and her husband, Darryl, also live in Batavia with their two children, Julia (SJS Class of 2013) and Benjamin (SJS Class of 2017).

Sponsored Post: Join us for the 'Taste of Genesee' at St. Joseph School’s annual Popcorn Ball

By Lisa Ace

Enjoy food from all of your favorite restaurants at “A Taste of Genesee” at St. Joseph School’s 53rd annual Popcorn Ball at 6 p.m. on Oct. 13.

This year’s menu:

  • Seafood Bisque from Terry Hills
  • Fried Calamari from Alex's Place
  • Smoked Chicken Wings from Duke's Smokin' Bone

  • BBQ, Ribs from Clor's
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Center Street Smoke House
  • Mini Beef on Weck from T.F. Brown's
  • Mini Beef Wellington from Larry's Steak House
  • Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo from Bob Evans
  • Eggplant Parmesan & Pasta Primavera from Penna's Catering.

Along with DJ Frank Gioia and great prizes like 2013 season passes to Darien Lake and Palm Island Indoor Water Park, we will also being honoring outstanding alumni Judge Robert Balbick and M&T Regional President Dan Burns and volunteers Jamee Logsdon, Maria Streeter, and Michelle Cryer.

All proceeds will benefit St. Joseph School and the event is open to the public. Tickets are $60/couple or reserve a table of 10 for $250. For more information: Please visit

Info meeting at St. Joe's for parents of kindergarteners

By Billie Owens

St. Joseph's School in Batavia will hold an informational meeting for the parents of students who will attend kindergarten in the fall. It begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the school, located at 2 Summit St. Free child care will be provided.

Event Date and Time

St. Joseph's School kicks off Catholic Schools Week Jan. 29th

By Billie Owens

St. Joseph Catholic School in Batavia will kick off Catholic Schools Week with a family mass at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, followed by a family luncheon, followed at 2 p.m. with an open house for prospective students and families. The school is located at 2 Summit St.

The theme for this year's Catholic Schools Week, which is celebrated nationally Jan. 29 through Feb. 5, is "Faith, Academics, Service." These three priorities of Catholic schools stand out from other educational institutions.

Children are taught faith – not just the basics of Christianity, but how to have a relationship with God. Academics, which in Catholic schools are held to very high standards, help each child reach his or her potential. Service, the giving of one’s time and effort to help others, is taught both as an expression of faith and good citizenship.

St. Joseph Catholic School of Batavia has a long history with its roots dating back to 1873 when Rev. Thomas Cunningham settled on Jackson Street in Batavia, bringing with him six Sisters of Mercy. The school later moved to Ross Street before opening on Summit Street in 1882, operating there until 1959. At that time, the original building was torn down due to safety concerns and a new building was constructed.

Open house festivities on Sunday will be followed by a week's worth of activities. On Monday, parents will join students for lunch, followed by a game of bingo. On Tuesday, students will participate in group activities at the YMCA and the Faletti Ice Rink. Wednesday will be Pajama Day with students making fleece-tie blankets for the VA Nursing Home. On Thursday, students will attend a special movie day at the Dipson Theatre.

The celebration wraps up on Friday with a basketball game and Jump Rope for Heart event. That evening, the school will hold a Family Dance from 7 to 10 p.m.

Current school enrollment totals nearly 200 including pre-K through eigthth grade, with the average class size being 16. Nearly 60 percent of families receive some type of financial assistance. Nationally, 99 percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school, and 98 percent of those students go on to college.

To find out more about St Joseph Catholic School or the open house, please call 343-6154.

St. Joe's annual Popcorn Ball will feature local musician

By Billie Owens

Press release:

On Oct. 15, St. Joseph’s School will hosting the 52nd Annual Popcorn Ball. This year’s event will feature dinner from D & R Depot of Le Roy.

Cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m. with dinner being served at 7 p.m. Dinner will include sliced turkey, beef burgundy tips, a mashed potato bar, pasta and other great sides.

Entertainment will be provided by the Rochester-based party band, Up 2 Somethin’, featuring local bass player Rickey Ellis. The group will perform from 8 p.m. to midnight playing old-school hits like "Mustang Sally" (The Commitments) and "Ladies Night" (Kool & the Gang) to Top 40 hits like "I Gotta Feeling" (Black Eyed Peas), "Break Even" (Script) and "Forget You" (Cee Lo Green).

Many of you know Rickey from the days of working at Pontillo’s making pizzas and whatever else Sam and Betty asked him to do. Others will remember him from Duke Jupiter and most recently from Me & the Boyz. Rickey has had a great following throughout the years and we are hoping that this local connection will bring some of you out.

Come have a night out with your friends, good food, and great entertainment!

Tickets for this year’s event are $35 per person and can be purchased by calling St. Joseph’s School at 343-6154.

Husband and wife to be honored for work at St. Joseph School

By Daniel Crofts

It was the end of a very hectic day at St. Joseph School in Batavia. The building was nearly empty, and teachers John and Margaret Volpe were finally on their way home when Principal Karen Green approached them and said: "Oh by the way, you know that award (NBC newsman) Tim Russert started that they give out every year? You two won it this year."

Who and what

Russert, who died in 2008, was a former Catholic school student. He created the Making a Difference Award for the purpose of honoring former teachers who had an impact on his life. It is given annually to a Catholic school teacher in the diocese of Buffalo.

"We had no idea we were even being considred," John said.

Green's announcement that they had won this award was a surprise for another reason as well: It's only supposed to go to one person each year.

This is the first time two teachers are receiving the award together. Green nominated both John and Margaret, who teach sixth- through eighth-graders at the Summit Street school, after finding herself unable to choose between them.

"After working with John and Margaret as a teacher and then observing them as a principal," she said, "I can say that when it comes to making a difference in students' lives, that's exactly what they do. It's a daily occurrence, and you can see it in how the kids relate to them."

High expectations

John and Margaret teach social studies and English, respectively. Green commented that they spend a lot of extra time preparing for each week's lessons and always make sure to update their teaching tools and styles to make learning more exciting for the kids (using the latest classroom technology, etc).

Academically, the kids in John and Margaret's classes are held to high standards and, in Green's words, are "always busy."

In Mrs. Volpe's English class, students are continually honing their writing skills with weekly literature logs and various writing assignments throughout each grading period. As a result, they typically leave St. Joe's with excellent writing skills and high expectations for their academic performances.

"I like to see the students desire and expect a lot of themselves, and not just settle for crummy work," Margaret said.

In Mr. Volpe's social studies class, students become engaged in the material by discussing it in relation to current events -- which is one area of instruction where new technology comes in handy.

Commenting on the availability of news online, John said: "An event can happen on, say, Thursday morning, and I can present it to the class by that afternoon."

He enjoys the "give-and-take" relationship he has with his students, who are still young enough to question things rather than being strictly "goal-oriented."

"My hope for them is that they will ask questions and pursue the answers," he said. "And I hope they'll explore things a bit instead of just automatically accepting the obvious answers."

Not only do John and Margaret have expectations for their students in terms of academics and conduct, they also consistently follow through with those expectations.

"I've seen very few discipline problems on their side of the hall," Green said. "Their students know they need to behave a certain way, and that there will be consequences if they don't."

Beyond the books...

The Volpes' committment to their students extends beyond the classroom. Margaret oversees the school newspaper staff. John is in charge of the student debate team (both of which meet every week), and the couple spends a lot of time with students who need extra help after school.

Additionally, Margaret serves on the school's Academic Excellence Committee, which is designed to offer students educational opportunities that they would not get in the classroom. It also helps provide particularly gifted students with more opportunities to challenge themselves. Activities the committee sponsors include the annual spelling bee, Career Day, and peer tutoring.

Colleagues have benefitted from the Volpes' presence at St. Joe's as well as the students. John, for example, acts as assistant principal on days when Green is out of the building, serves as a "backup" for the other teachers and helps with discipline when needed.

Even as their boss, Green goes to the Volpes for advice every now and again.

Formerly a St. Joe's teacher, Green's experience is mostly with younger students. When she started her job as principal, she was a bit...well, green when it came to working with the older kids.

"John and Margaret have so much experience, so I always go to them for help and trust their judgment."

A great team

The Volpes have worked in Catholic education together for more than 40 years, and have taught at St. Joe's for more than 20 years. They met in the early 1970s as teachers at the Cathedral School in Buffalo, and were married not long after.

While combining professional and personal relationships can be awkward, the Volpes have found that, in their case, the two reinforce one another.

"There's that kind of natural trust you have going into the job (when you work with your spouse)," John said. "I know that if I have a problem, I can talk to Margaret about it. And as a teacher, I think I've learned more working with Margaret than anyone else. She's very inventive and creative, and she's helped me all along."

Likewise, Margaret has always had tremendous respect for her husband on a professional level.

"Since before we were married, I've noticed that John has an unusual rapport with the kids," she said. "He has a certain warmth (with his students) that I notice right up to today, and I've learned from that."

Without wanting to "overstate (the) influence" she and her husband have on the kids' lives, Margaret said that working with the students at St. Joe's is almost like raising a family.

"I notice that in eighth-grade, the kids form even closer friendships than before," she said. "And I really think John helps to foster that."

From Green's perspective, the Volpes' working relationship as husband and wife sets a positive example for their students.

"To see a married couple working side-by-side and having such a healthy relationship is good for the kids, especially in an age when a lot of families seem to be falling apart."

In the right place

St. Joseph School offers the Volpes an environment in which they feel they are able to "flourish" more than any place else. For one thing, the majority of kids who attend St. Joe's come from what Margaret called "very solid families."

The students themselves, according to Green, are what "make St. Joe's such a wonderful place to work," to which Margaret replied, "Amen!"

John, for his part, talked about how impressed he has been with the way in which the kids welcome and accept new students.

"Each year, within a very short time, new students are assimilated and welcomed."

Teaching at a Catholic school is also very important to both John and Margaret, the latter having come from a family of six children who attended Catholic schools from grade school all the way through college.

"I remember my father would work two or three jobs to put us all through Catholic school," she said, "and he never let up. That always left a big impression on me."

Margaret has always felt that Catholic education should be a choice for parents and families. And she always knew that if no one was willing to accept the sacrifice of a smaller salary (compared to a public school teacher's salary) and teach at a Catholic school, then that option would be gone.

In terms of how things are done, John and Margaret like the discipline and focus on values that Catholic education offers, while at the same time emphasizing the development of skills.

"There's a basic emphasis on value (in Catholic education) instead of just fact and procedure," John said. "And it's nice that we're able to talk about religion. (As a Catholic school teacher), you incorporate the values of religion into your lessons without 'preaching' religion."

John and his students talk about current events with concern for ethical issues and implications. 

"I enjoy being able to do that, rather than having to stay neutral on everything."

Margaret's students explore Catholic values in many of their writing assignments. After a visit to Genesee ARC, for example, they wrote an essay about how their faith teaches compassion toward, and acceptance of, people with special needs.

Faith also comes into play with the teaching of literature. Margaret and her students discuss the books they read with religion in mind, asking what a practicing Christian would do in a given character's situation. Margaret also works with parents in determining which books are good for the kids to read, and which are not.

"There are books out there that promote the wrong values and glorify bad behavior," Margaret said. "I tell the kids that certain books they might be reading (on their own time) aren't good for them, and I work with parents to determine what's appropriate. And the parents are right on board with it."

A fitting tribute

John and Margaret will receive their award at the 2011 Making a Difference Dinner, which is next Thursday -- Jan. 27 -- at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Buffalo.

Two tables will be filled by those coming to support them, including family members, parents and faculty (including Batavia City Council President Marianne Clattenberg, who teaches third-grade at St. Joe's).

Green was very happy that the Volpes will be recognized for their work with the students.

"'The school wouldn't run as well as it does without them," she said. "They do an amazing job here, and I don't think they're told that often enough."

St. Joseph's School teaching duo to be honored

By Billie Owens

John and Margaret Volpe, husband and wife, and teachers for more than 20 years at St. Joseph School in Batavia, will be honored later this month at a WNY Catholic Education Dinner.

They will receive the "Making a Difference Award" on Thursday, Jan. 27 at the Adam's Mark Hotel, Buffalo.

The award was established by Buffalo native and NBC newsman Tim Russert, as a way of honoring his former teachers for the difference they made in his life. It is given to a Catholic schoolteacher in the Buffalo diocese.

This is the first time two teachers will be recipients.

Students' artistic abilities showcased at close of academic year

By Daniel Crofts

For a year-end project, I thought it would be cool to take some video and pictures of music- and arts-related activities -- respectively -- in the Genesee County schools.

The following video is 20 minutes long and divided into two parts (Youtube limits most users to about 10 minutes per video). It features concert footage from various schools in the county.



I have to make a quick apology for the poor video quality in a couple of instances. I had to be very careful to protect the identity of the kids (the ones photographed without parental approval), so I made sure none of the students' faces appeared too clearly on camera; plus, to be honest, the first camera I used turned out to be pretty awful when it came to taking video (even while taking decent pictures).

I also feel bad that I couldn't include every group I filmed in the video. My selections were based on a combination of different criteria, including:

  •  making sure the best songs were included
  •  making sure all of the schools I visited were included
  •  arranging the selections in a way that flowed nicely

So there's the music part. Here are some pictures I was able to take of art work done by Elba and Leroy students:


Kindergartener Cody Soules stands in front of his drawing of a tree branch (top right).

First-grader Taylor Augello stands with her rendition of Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" (right above her head).



Both of the following pictures were submitted by Dan Carnevale. Sophomore Sydney Gallup (top photo) and two unidentified students stand with their drawings.



Also, see the May 27 announcement on the winners of the Architectural Drawing contest for fourth-graders.

Congratulations all of the students for a job well done!

Librarian and St. Joe's teacher team up to make library more fun

By Daniel Crofts

Mrs. Caprio's sixth-grade class from St. Joseph's Elementary School poses for a picture at the Richmond Memorial Library -- with Teen Services Librarian Paula Haven hiding out in the back (far left).

Richmond and St. Joe's partnership started several years ago with Library Director Diana Wyrwa's visit to the school, where she spoke to the faculty about library services and extended an invitation to all grades.

"The library is such a treasure," Caprio said. "And it's right by our school, so why not take advantage of it? It's especially helpful as a supplement to (St. Joe's) library, which is kind of small."

St. Joe's 6th-graders started to visit the library last year under the supervision of Nicole Tamfer. That group was, in Haven's words, "very independent." They only came every other week or so, then mainly just to look for books.

Wanting to see the sixth-grade library experience continue, Caprio contacted Haven about bringing her class over on a weekly basis for an ongoing library orientation program.

Last September, this program was pretty much the same as its predecessor: the kids came to familiarize themselves with where different types of books were and…well, to look for books. Caprio and Haven quickly learned that if this was going to succeed on a weekly basis, certain changes were going to have to be made.

"We found that even at this age, young people need more structure," Caprio said.

This is where Haven had to put on her thinking cap. Capitalizing on her field of expertise, she started them off with library skills -- but with a little twist.

"I would go through the Teen Corner shelves and take books out of place," Haven said, "and then ask the students to spot them and put them back where they belong."

Moving away from the shelves to the Teen Corner tables, the group then started doing Reader's Theatre, which helped establish familiarity between "Miss Paula" (as the kids call her) and her new once-a-week class.

Reader's Theatre was followed up with genre studies, where the kids learned about the different types of fiction and then tried their hands at writing their own stories within each genre. From there, they have since graduated to creating their own graphic novels, which they spent Friday's session illustrating.

That, in a nutshell, is the history of the Haven/Caprio brainchild thus far. With roots in Wyrwa’s efforts to bring students to the library, it has taken on a life of its own and evolved accordingly. Haven and Caprio plan on continuing the program next year and building on what they’ve already done.

So what did everybody get out of this thing?

The planning and instruction involved in the program have taught Haven a lot about what teachers do on a daily basis.

"I've really gotten to experience firsthand the challenge of keeping the students focused," she said. "We’re talking about a situation where you only have a half hour, and you really have to keep things interesting for them."

Having never taught before, Haven found this to be as much of a learning experience for her as for the students. She attributes her overall success to the support she received from Caprio – who gave her complete freedom when it came to program planning but remained on hand to help her when necessary – and to the cooperativeness and enthusiasm of the kids.

“They’ve done very well this year,” Haven said. “They’ve participated with enthusiasm, they’ve been pleasant, and you can see them put effort into their work. They surprised me every week by their openness and enthusiasm.”

One thing that Haven and Caprio both agree on is that it’s nice to see these young people experience the library as an enjoyable place to be.

“I love seeing video-age teens connect to the library. I like that you can start with their interests (many students incorporated popular culture references like Michael Jackson and McDonald’s into their fictional works) and then help them segue into being lifelong readers.”

Caprio’s class members were asked to share their thoughts/feelings about the program via written responses. They submitted the following comments to The Batavian:

Alex R.

"I like when we got to write our own paragraph/story. I didn't know a book goes backwards (referring to anime graphic novels, which are formatted according to the Japanese style of writing back-to-front)."

Anonymous #1

"I like how we got to read short stories about different genres and learn about them. Also I like how we got to write our own paragraphs on the genre we were learning about. I would recommend it for other classes because it is a great chance to learn about how different books are made. I think Miss Paula is a very good teacher and is very open about a lot of things. Also Miss Paula is very nice."

James F.

"I had a really good time doing all the great activities. I look forward to it every week and it really brightens up my day. I would definitely recommend this program to other classes. It was very enjoyable. It has also really helped me on essays. I have learned how to improve my sentence fluency and raised my grades, too! Miss Paula was very nice. She was always in a good mood! She was patient and helped us when we were stuck."

Anonymous #2

"I would definitely recommend the program to other classes because going to the library is fun. It gives you a break from school as well as having some educational values. We've recently been learning about different genres of books. Some include: horror, fairy tale, and science fiction. Everyone is nice to you at the library including Miss Paula. Everyone really enjoys the library!"

C.J. S.

"I like making our own cartoons."

Anthony H.

"The experience was fun because we were able to write our own stories and learned a new story genre each week. I found out also that graphic novels can start from the back of the book so there was a bit of education."

Emily F.

"I liked the library program. I didn't know that much about genres, but now I know a lot about them. I thought we would just look at books, but we actually learn a lot. I have learned that graphic novels start from the back. But now we are drawing our own graphic novels, it is cool! Miss Paula is very nice and patient. She lets us do fun stuff. I do recommend this program to other classes. I know they will have a load of fun!"

Peter D.

"We talk a lot about different elements of reading like horror and comedy."

Nichol S.

"One thing I liked about this is making up our own stories. For example, when we learned about science fiction, we had to write our own science fiction story. I would recommend this to other schools because it helps students tell what type of genre a story is. Miss Paula is open and explains things pretty well."

Anonymous #3

"What I like is that we read a story and talk about the elements. (When asked if the class had any educational value): I can express myself from time to time."

Anthony G.

"I like going to the library. Miss Paula is cool. She knows where the books are when I ask. I like (the program) and I want to keep going."

Tyler H.

"At first I thought that we would just be looking at books. Then I found out that we would be learning a lot about literature. I liked that a lot. I would recommend it to other classes because kids can learn more about literature than they do in English class. I learned more about books every week. Also, I got to learn more kinds (a.k.a. genres) of books. Miss Paula let us talk freely. She was a good teacher."

Peter K.

"I liked making our own stories."

Jacob H.

"I liked learning about how the story originated and writing our own stories. I would recommend it to future kids because it will help them learn about stories. Miss Paula is a nice librarian."


"I think Ms. Paula is very nice and knows what we need to learn/should know. She has a lot of interesting topics. I would recommend it for other classes because it is fun and you learn at the same time."

Anonymous #4

"I enjoyed going to the library every week and learning about the different genres. Miss Paula was very nice and always had something ready for us to learn about."

Grant B. (a.k.a. "That Kid")

"It's fun when we write our own stories. We get to express ourselves. All kids would probably like it. It had a little educational value because we learned all the different parts of a book/story."

Joseph S.

"I liked the fact that we were able to look for books at the beginning."

Shea N.

"I think that the best part of this is drawing cartoons! Miss Paula was verry nice!!! Would I recommend (the program)? Well, yes! P.S. – I love The Batavian!”

(I promise I did not make that last part up).

McTeachers Night to Benefit St. Joseph School

By Tara Bills

McTeachers Night will be held Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at Batavia McDonald's from 4pm to 7pm to benefit St. Joseph School of Batavia.  The school will recieve a percentage of the sales from this event.  So come out and support a local school in it's fundraising efftorts.  Any questions or interest in holding an event like this, please contact Tara at (585)344-2524 between the hours of 8am and 4pm, Monday through Friday.  Come on out and join the fun.

Event Date and Time

'MAMMOTH Sale' and 'Antique Alley' to be held at St. Joseph's in Batavia

By Daniel Crofts

St. Joseph's School will hold its sixth annual MAMMOTH Sale, featuring tens of thousands of garage sale items, on Saturday, April 10. Plus, there will be a new feature called "Antique Alley."

Items for sale will include antique furniture, glassware, a baby buggy from around 1800, kitchen utensils, toys, books (including the "Bobbsey Twins" series), cameras and other local antiques. Only cash will be accepted for payment.

The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the school located at 2 Summit St. in the City of Batavia.

Event Date and Time

Authentically Local