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WNY Tech Academy

May 19, 2019 - 8:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, byron-bergen, news, schools, education, business.

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National Grid was recognized Friday by the WNY Tech Academy at Byron-Bergen High School as the Business of the Year for the company's support of the program, particularly for the $25,000 National Grid had already donated to the student's greenhouse project. On Friday, executive Ken Kuwaja and Paul Gister delivered another $50,000.

The student-conceived project involves building a greenhouse and starting a business to grow greens and farm tilapia in a hydroponic environment.

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Kelly Yates, pictured with Principal Thomas Schulte, was named Mentor of the Year.

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Students named Professional of the Year: Samantha Lucki, Petyon Penders, and Evan Harter.

December 11, 2018 - 1:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, schools, education, news, notify, byron, bergen.

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Keep moving forward, that is what Adam Thorman said he has done since graduating from Byron-Bergen High School more than 10 years ago and joining the Navy.

He's moved forward in his Navy career, from E-2 out of basic training to E-6 after 10 years of service. He's been recognized by his superiors for his hard work and dedication as a military security specialist. He's gotten married and become a father to a 17-month old daughter. And he has overcome tragedy in his family, the deaths in separate accidents of his twin sister and his younger sister.

He said he's moved forward with the help of friends and family but meeting his wife a couple of years after the deaths of his sisters in 2011 "kind of opened up my eyes that I could still move on while unfortunately still missing two of my family members," he said during a presentation Monday at the Western New York Tech Acadamy.

Thorman was one of four speakers for "Motivational Monday" at the academy. The other speakers were Gina Lathan from Lathan Construction, Jakob Terranova from Six Flags Darien Lake, and Kelley Yates from Sedgwick Business Interiors.

Thorman fielded a variety of questions from the three dozen students who attended the talks, including questions about his deployments overseas, his career plans, life in the military, and how he overcame obstacles (such as bringing his reading skills up to the necessary level to complete college) to advance his career.

"I really enjoy reading books now," he said.

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May 19, 2018 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, byron-bergen, schools, education, news, business.

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The Western New York Tech Academy, at Byron-Bergen High School, hosted its first mentor's breakfast Friday morning and handed out three significant awards for the first time.

Isaac Ladley, a junior in the program, received the first-ever Professional of the Year award. Pictured with Ladley are faculty members Miranda Wharram-Santillo, Thomas Schulte (principal), Mariah LaSpina, Kathryn Beaumont, and Sean Madden.

The breakfast was followed by a business fair and mock employment interviews.

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Liberty Pumps was selected as Business Partner of the Year. Pictured are Jeff Cook, David Williams, Robyn Brookhart, Dennis Burke, and Thomas Schulte.

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The Mentor of the Year is Gina Lathan. Pictured with Lathan, a student she mentored, Rebecca Haniscewski, and Thomas Schulte.

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April 26, 2018 - 11:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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A group of students in the WNY Tech Academy at Byron-Bergen High School can now be called entrepreneurs.

They've researched a business idea, wrote a business plan, built financial projections and stepped into their own version of the Shark Tank and walked out with a guaranteed $125,000 in financing for their planned business.

The business, Academy Greens, will grow spinach and tilapia in a greenhouse on the Byron-Bergen campus that will be equipped with an aquaponics system.

They will sell the spinach to the cafeteria at Byron-Bergen and to the culinary arts program at BOCES. 

"There is an unlimited opportunity for success and there is so much to learn within the business itself," said student Kyle Goloskey. "I'm excited about the project because we’re able to provide food for local schools and it’s organic so it’s a clean project we don’t have to worry about contamination."

The students haven't quite figured out what to do with the tilapia yet, and under questioning from the "sharks" during their hour-long pitch, acknowleged that they didn't account for the preparation costs associated with selling fish.

The "sharks" were: Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde, who was asked to represent the vegetable-processing company Bonduelle, which has a plant in Oakfield, for the purpose of the pitch review; and Paul Gister, manager of customer and community management at National Grid; Michael Gardinier, VP of operations at Farm Fresh First; and Thomas Schulte, principal of the WNY Tech Academy.

Hyde said Bonduelle will make an in-kind contribution of coaching and food-processing expertise to assist the students with their startup. Gister and Gardinier said they will take back recommendations for funding to their bosses and board of directors.

At the end of the presentation, Schulte announced that the budget for the WNY Tech Academy, which is funded through grants, has been rewritten for next year to make $125,000 available for the project. Any financial contribution from National Grid or Farm Fresh will backfill the WNY Tech contribution.

Hyde said he found the whole project exciting.

"Food is such a heartland for us," Hyde said. "We've got three industrial parks across the county that are being developed around food. On the entrepreneurial side, that is such a critical piece. We have the Med-Tech Center and the entrepreneurial zone for startups. That is an accelerator for businesses. Things like this help plant the seeds that spark things."

He praised the project-based learning experience.

Gardinier said the project is going to give the students a real hands-on experience in the world and in business that will benefit them when they start their careers. It is a bridge for them to connect their class work to the work environment.

And starting and running a business isn't easy, so the students will learn from the mistakes they make and the challenges they encounter.

"I fully expect them to hit problems," Gardinier said. "It’s important they get their network built around them. They’ve got some very key players with them now that have offered time and offered expertise to the project to help them get over those hurdles, so build your network and use it."

Noah Toal, 11th grade, said he likes the project because he gets to learn how businesses start and the sharks who asked challenging questions gave him an idea of what it takes to put a business together.

He plans to enter into accounting but might want to own his own business someday.

"I might think about starting my own business once I get out there more and start getting cash flow in, and I get more understanding of how this world goes," Noah said. 

The primary goal of the project, Schulte said, is to provide a learning experience and bring together the three disciplines of the tech academy -- food-processing technology, supply chain management, and accounting -- into a single effort.

"From very early on we tried to talk about ourselves as a startup company and how important for every person on our team, staff, students, to play a role in making it become what the vision of it was from the very beginning," Schulte said. "I think the greenhouse is just going to be another example of -- to make it work, we’ve got to work to make it work."

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October 24, 2014 - 1:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, WNY Tech Academy.

Press release:

The staff of the WNY Tech Academy, the new six-year regional high school will be hosting three informational sessions during the first week of November.

The WNY Tech Academy is a six-year Early College High School, supporting students, grades 9-14. We serve 13 school districts in the Genesee, Livingston, and Wyoming county area and are funded through a New York State Pathways to Technology Grant.

The Academy’s curriculum places a strong emphasis on both STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills and essential “soft-skills,” with the goal of preparing students for high-skill, financially stable careers in growth industries.

Students attending the WNY Tech Academy will complete all necessary coursework for a New York State Regents Diploma as well as earn an Associate in Applied Science degree in Accounting, Supply Chain Management or Food Processing Technology through Genesee Community College – all at no cost.

These sessions will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 4th, 5th, and 6th at Perry Middle School, Batavia Middle School, and Caledonia-Mumford Middle School, respectively. For more information on the WNY Tech Academy please visit wnytechacademy.org.

October 10, 2014 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, byron-bergen, WNY Tech Academy.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley and John Jakubowski, a workforce development consultant for Genesee County Economic Development Center, spoke to students at the WNY Tech Academy at Byron-Bergen High School this afternoon.

Hawley spoke about how he works in Albany to help get legislation passed and drum up support for projects such as the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and WNY STAMP.

Cooperation and relationship building is a big part of the job, he said.

"Communication is the key to getting anything done," Hawley said. "It doesn't matter whether it's texting, whether it's e-mailing, whether it's on the phone, but the best sort of communication is what we're doing here today, looking at each other, eyeball-to-eyeball. You know who I am now. I know who you guys are."

Jakubowski, a retired educator, told students about how he uses his expertise to create job-training programs so the companies coming into the Ag Park and STAMP have a local workforce of job-ready applicants when they open their doors.

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