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WGHS students Cordelia Thompson, left, and Daniel Coston shatter clay targets.

Trap shooting takes hold at Watkins High

MONTOUR FALLS, May 18, 2022 -- The first-year Watkins Glen Trap Club -- an entity approved earlier this year by the Watkins Glen School Board -- is having a successful inaugural season.

The club, which features competitive clay trap shooting by Watkins Glen High School students -- 40 expressed interest, and 23 are registered and competing against other clubs and shooters in the region -- has completed five competitions over the past five weeks.

Those followed three weeks of practice that followed the School Board approval. The final of the five competitions came Tuesday at the Millport Hunting & Fishing Club on Gano Road above Montour Falls. Any students who couldn't make that event due to conflicts with sports obligations at WGHS would get in their shooting two days later.

This all leads to a state competition on June 27 at the Bridgeport Rod & Gun Club near Cicero. Eight of the 23 WGHS students have signed to compete that day, with an eye toward qualifying for a national competition in Michigan.

The club is affiliated with the New York State Clay Target League, a chapter of a national organization that boasts 32,000 student members.

Locally, "the kids love it," said one of the Watkins Glen club's volunteer coaches, Dennis B. Thompson -- whose daughter, 8th grader Cordelia Thompson -- is one of the club's shooters. Each student, steeped in firearms safety, provides his or her own shotgun -- 12-gauge is the preferred weapon -- while parents provide the ammunition.

It's an expensive sport, made more affordable in this case by donations -- such as the many, many clay targets provided by the Millport Hunting & Fishing Club (at 135 targets to a box, at $14 a box); $500 from the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department; safety equipment for the eyes and ears from US Salt, and a monetary donation from Welliver construction and individually from several of its employees.

Participants range in age from 13-19 (they must be at least 12). In a competition like Tuesday's, each fires 50 rounds, five rounds at a time from a trap station, in sequence with four other shooters.

They fire at clay targets launched from a trap machine in a trap house positioned well in front of the shooting stations. Each hit is recorded by a scorekeeper, who then totals them up after each set of 25 shots. The ultimate totals are forwarded to the state league to compare with other clubs. It is remote competition.

On this day, for instance -- a cold, windy day that was making the exercise (aim, shoot and hit) tricky -- WGHS senior Daine Butler hit 22 targets in his first 25 shots, while the 8th grader, Miss Thompson, hit 21. Some of the others struggled with the shifting currents.

Watching the whole time -- and ready to help if, for instance, a gun should jam or a cartridge shuld fail to fire -- were various coaches. Also present were parents and Hunting & Fishing Club members. All were well behind the shooters, many under the roof of a pavilion, content to observe and socialize. For among its attributes, this is a social sport, shared by young and old of like interest.

And there is, at this level, no breakdown by age or gender. Of the 23 students, five are female, each competing on the same level with their male counterparts, and in some cases outshooting them.

Its future? Trapshooting has been around for a long time, and will continue to be. Just by its very existence, clubs like the Watkins Glen Trap Club will replenish the sport's proponents and participants.

"The discipline of the kids is phenomenal," said Coach Thompson.

As is their enthusiasm.

"Even when they miss a few targets," he said, "they come off the field smiling."

Photos in text:

From top: Katrina Ricca takes aim on a target she hit; Daine Butler shatters a target; the trap house; and the trap machine in the trap house. The machine holds 500 clay targets.

Five students at the five trap shooting stations at the Millport Hunting & Fishing Club, with the trap house in the background.

The Millport Hunting & Fishing Club clubhouse, located off Gano Road.

A line of Watkins Glen High School Prom-goers arrives at Logan Ridge Estates.

WGHS holds its Prom at Logan Ridge

HECTOR, May 14, 2022 -- Watkins Glen High School's annual Prom was conducted Saturday night on a pleasant, breezy evening in the lodge and on the terrace of Logan Ridge Estates in Hector.

Logan Ridge has been the site of several previous WGHS Proms. This one had a "Masquerade" theme, although few of those in attendance were wearing masks.

Upon entering, Prom-goers were asked to vote on the King, Queen, Princess and Prince. There were three candidates in each category. The results:

King: Daniel Ely
Queen: Abby Gibson
Prince: Gavin Smith
Princess: Jenna Solomon

Photo at right: Senior Melanie Wysocki arrives at the Prom.

Other photos from the Prom:

Learn not to burn

Firefighters were on hand at the Watkins Glen Elementary School Monday for a "Learn Not To Burn" session -- a monthly effort aimed at educating students in fire safety. As the final visit of the school year, firefighters brought along trucks to show to the students, who on this day ranged from pre-school to 4th grade. The program, which has been operating locally for decades, is part of a National Fire Protection Association effort that uses educational strategies that incorporate positive and practical fire safety messaging.

The Schuyler County and Regional Envirothon winner, the Odessa-Montour High School
"Otters.” From left: Aidan Thurston, Ethan King, teacher Doug Chapman, Veer Patel and Casey Keys. (Photo provided)

O -M team wins Regional Envirothon

Will represent Schuyler County at the State competition in Geneva

Special to the Odessa File

OWEGO, April 28, 2022 -- A team from Odessa-Montour High School is the winner of the 2022 Regional Envirothon -- the first such victory by an O-M representative at the annual competition. It defeated 29 teams from 11 regional schools on Thursday, April 28 at the Tioga Sportsmen's Complex in Owego.

The winning Odessa-Montour team, The O-M Otters, were coached by high school science teacher Doug Chapman. The squad, all seniors were competing at the Envirothon for the first time.

Two schools with six teams represented Schuyler County in the event. The Otters also won the County competition, with second place going to the Brussel Sprouts of Bradford Central School, coached by Becky Schrader, and 3rd place to the Octopi from Odessa-Montour.

Schuyler, Chemung, Broome, Tioga and Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation Districts combine their efforts to provide high school students in the five counties with a regional, Southern Tier Envirothon competition to determine county champions. The students' knowledge is put to the test as the teams complete tough written exams in five categories: Current Issues, Wildlife, Forestry, Soils, and Aquatics.

The Regional winners were as follows; 1st place O-M Otters; 2nd place, the Tioga Central School Tigers; and 3rd place the CF pHish from Chenango Forks.

The O-M Otters will represent Schuyler County at the 2022 New York State Envirothon to be held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva on May 25 and 26. The winning team at the statewide competition will compete at The National Envirothon at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on July 24-30.

The Soil and Water Conservation Districts help to organize the Envirothon, and essential support is provided by the school science teachers, the school districts, as well as local businesses and service organizations who donate funds for financial support. Donors this year include Integrity Engineering PLLC, The Watkins Glen Fire Company, The Watkins Glen Elks Post #1546, The Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, Cotton-Hanlon, Inc. and Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation.

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District provides programs for youth as well as services to help residents and communities manage and protect the natural resources of Schuyler County.

Photos in text:

Top: The Schuyler County 3rd Place finishers, the "Octopi" from Odessa-Montour High School. From left: Tori Brewster, Hannah Nolan, Katie Adams, Trinity Trojanowski, and Sarah Barr.

Bottom: The Schuyler County 2nd Place finishers, the Bradford High School "Brussel Sprouts.” From left: Michele Rosno, Dylan Monell, Baleigh Monell, Nicole Peterson, and Tyler Spina. (Photos provided)

The prom ballroom was bathed in green light. The night's theme: Enchanted Garden.

It was Prom Night for Odessa-Montour

WATKINS GLEN, April 29 -- The Odessa-Montour High School Junior-Senior prom was held Friday night at the Watkins Glen International Media Center.

The students arrived to a ballroom bathed in green light and a theme of "Enchanted Garden."

Along the way, the junior and senior royalty was announced, the result of voting by the studens as they arrived.

The King and Queen for the Senior Class: Arden Heichel and Raven Lott.

The Kng and Queen for the Junior Class: Dominick Elliott and Hannah Nolan.

Photo in text: Hannah Nolan and Cameron Holland at a table in the ballroom.

Other photos:

And the prom royalty:

The junior and senior Prom Courts. From left, junior Queen Hannah Nolan, Princess Tori Brewster and Duchess Hannah Kinner; junior King Dominick Elliott, Duke Daniel Lewis and Prince Ben Campbell; senior Queen Raven Lott, Princess Molly Heichel and Duchess Jade Baldwin; and senior King Arden Heichel and Prince Casey Keyes. Not pictured: senior Duke Jacob Menzi. (Photo by Gail Sgrecci)

Hospital Auxiliary offering scholarships

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 26, 2022 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is offering scholarships to students who plan to enter the health care field.

$1,500 scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school students who are residents of Schuyler County, or to Schuyler Hospital employees advancing their education.

Applications may be found on-line at www.schuylerhospital.org. Applications may also be picked up at high school guidance offices. Applications must be postmarked by May 31, 2022.

For more information, email info@schuylerhospital.org, or contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Alice Learn at (607) 594-3401.

From left: Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, High School Principal Kyle Colunio, Elementary School Principal Jeremy Leroux and 4th grade teacher Tyler Hutcheson with the drawings that dictated the shape of their beard trims. (Photo by Amanda Grinolds)

A fun way to head to Spring Break: Teacher, administrators get beards shaped for the kids

WATKINS GLEN, April 8, 2022 -- The idea came from Watkins Glen Elementary School 4th grade teacher Tyler Hutcheson. His students could provide designs showing how he could cut his beard just before Spring Break, and he would follow the design that garnered the most votes from 3rd and 4th graders.

Friday, the last day before Spring Break, the idea became reality when Hutcheson's beard was trimmed on stage in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium before 3rd and 4th graders cheering him on.

And joining him in the exercise were three district administrators who had been growing their beards longer recently in anticipation of submitting to a similar trimming fate: Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, High School Principal Kyle Colunio, and Elementary School Principal Jeremy Leroux.

Doing the trimming of all four men: Mark Mortimer of Morty's Hot Spot barbershop at 301 South Madison Avenue in Watkins Glen.

The winning design, among 20 hanging on the walls of the school prior to the student vote, was in the shape of a spider. That one went to Hutcheson. The three administrators drew their beard designs from a box, with D'Alleva ending up getting a tiger design cut (striped), Colunio a Bat Symbol design, and Leroux a half-and-half cut -- half shaven, half not.

"It was just for fun," said one teacher in the school, who noted that the kids loved it.

And how long were the beard-trim subjects going to wear their new designs?

"Oh, I think just through the school day," the teacher said. "I imagine they shaved after they got home."

Photo in text: Watkins Glen School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva gets his stylish trim from Mark Mortimer of Morty's Hot Spot. (Photo by Amanda Grinolds)

Annual Art Competition kickoff announced

Special to The Odessa File

CORNING, March 29, 2022 -- Congressional Rep. Tom Reed has announced the kick-off of the 23rd annual Congressional District Art Competition. The contest provides students from across the district the opportunity to showcase their artistic talent to the community and Washington, D.C.

“Each year, we look forward to the kick-off of the Art Competition and seeing all the submitted artwork from the extremely talented students from across our district,” said Reed. “We care about the young people in our community and are glad we can provide this platform to celebrate their artistic talents.”

The annual competition is open to all high school students in the 23rd Congressional District. One student will have his or her original artwork displayed for one year in the United States Capitol and will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Exhibition Opening Celebration of the artwork. Five student finalists will have their artwork displayed in Tom Reed’s Washington, D.C. office.

Framed artwork must be submitted to one of Congressman Reed’s district offices with the appropriate documentation by Friday, April 15, 2022. One piece of artwork can be submitted from each high school. The Student Information and Release Form must be attached to the back of the artwork.

For the documents needed to submit the artwork or to schedule a day and time to drop off the artwork, please call Sharon Murphy at (607) 654-7566.

Photo in text: Congressman Tom Reed

While Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki) sweeps, her stepsisters (Ann Finn Roney, left, next to Aleksander Burke) and stepmother (Anya Simpson) sing.

'Cinderella' ends its 3-day run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, March 27, 2022 -- The Watkins Glen Class of 2022 presented its production of the family friendly, Prince Street Players’ version of the musical “Cinderella” for the third and final time Sunday afternoon before an appreciative audience in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium.

“Cinderella” was also presented on Friday and Saturday nights.

Students from 7th to 12th grades rehearsed the play beginning in January, immersing themselves in the funny, dance-full, musical take on the popular fairy tale. Memorable songs include “The Slipper Routine,” “The Sneeze Polka,” and “Hi Diddle Dee.”

Michelle and Tim Benjamin of Montour Falls directed, with Sarah Matthews as Music Director. Costume Director was Amy Wysocki.

The Fairy Godmother, played by Sarah Schaffner, saved the day in this version of the show, assisted by her two Helpers, played by Kai Lees and Macy Fitzgerald. The play answered the question: Would Cinderella, played by Melanie Wysocki, live happily ever after with her Prince Charming, played by Douglas DiGregorio? Not if the Stepmother, played by Anya Simpson, and her two daughters, played by Aleks Burke and Finn Roney, had anything to say about it.

Bring in King Darling, played by Nick Brusso, and a talented Ensemble including Aimee Lilac Cruz, Kay Davis, Norah Stegner, Natalie VanSkiver and Grace Wood, and it made for an entertaining audience experience.

Photo in text:

Top: Prince Charming (Douglas DiGregorio) and Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki) meet at the ball.

Bottom: The Fairy Godmother (Sarah Schaffner) and her two Helpers (Kai Lees and Macy Fitzgerald) prepare to wake up Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki).

Left: Stepsisters Gertrude (left, Ann Finn Roney) and Henrietta (Aleksander Burke) flank the Stepmother (Anya Simpson). Right: The Fairy Godmother (Sarah Schaffner).

Left: Prince Charming (Douglas DiGregorio) fends off Cinderella's stepsister Henrietta (Aleksander Burke). Right: Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki) moments before the Prince places on her foot the slipper she left behind at the ball where they met, proving she is the woman he loves and will marry.

Left: Nicholas Brusso as King Darling The Third. Right: Douglas DiGregorio as Prince Charming the First.

******

And at dress rehearsal earlier in the week:

Cast members of the WGHS production of "Cinderella" pose on the school stage.

A dance scene from "Cinderella" during dress rehearsal.

Melanie Wysocki (Cinderella) and Douglas DiGregorio (Prince Charming).

WGHS student Isabella Yaw sings "La Da Dee," accompanied by Artists-in-Residence Katie McShane (background left) and Dylan McKinstry (foreground).

WGHS students, faculty show their musical talents at "Artists-in-Residence" concert

WATKINS GLEN, March 16, 2022 -- Students and faculty performed vocal and instrumental numbers Wednesday night at an Artists-in-Residence 2022" concert in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium.

The Artists-in-Residence program was begun many years ago in the Watkins school district -- initially at the Middle School under the auspices of cellist Hank Roberts of Ithaca and now-retired teacher Jim Murphy. It shifted eventually to the high school in the hands of instrumentalist Katie McShane -- and this year three other professionals (instrumentalists Dylan McKinstry and Jesse Heasly and sound engineer Christopher Ploss). The program was revived this year after a pandemic-forced absence.

The Artists-in-Residence, who help students prepare musical selections for performance in this culminating concert, offered a varied lineup Wednesday -- including a performance by faculty members of the song "For Good" from the musical "Wicked" -- dedicated to the late Diana Groll, retired WGHS music teacher who passed away recently. The trio of Kim Laursen, Renee Riley and Nancy Ruda sang the song, supported by Patrick Feher, Sarahjane Harrigan, and Kelsey Pinette.

Another faculty performance came from teacher Travis Durfee, singing a U2 classic titled "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." He was backed up by several faculty members.

Student performers included Declan Barry, Isabella Yaw, Rebecca Perry & Callieondra Tohaijian, Trystan Robbs, Logan DeBolt, Jade Spulak, Kirsten Vestal, Ann Roney, Arloween Loucks-Scuteri, the trio of Juliet Asperschlager, Elizabeth Fitzwater and Emmanuel Rodriguez, Trinity DePree, Lilac Cruz, Cecilia Gaines, Alexis Lepp, Charles Vestal-Brown, Drew Popovich, Natalie VanSkiver, Nicholas Brusso, Aurora Kelley, the trio of Kaycee Lyles, Kathryn Planty and Kambrie Thorpe, Sarah Schaffner, Douglas DiGregorio, Melanie Wysocki, Grace Weed, and the WGHS Jazz Band.

As the concert program explained, the philosophy behind the program is this: "At the heart of the program is the idea to elevate confidence and to lift our students up by giving them a moment to share the stage with professional performers in front of their classmates, family, and community. Our goal is to leave them with a feeling of success and empowerment after the final performances."

Photos in text:

Top: Arloween Loucks-Scuteri sings "Daisies," with Artist-in-Residence Jesse Heasly in the background.
Bottom: Student Ann Roney sings "Rises the Moon."

Left: Student Logan DeBolt plays the piano while singing "As the World Caves In."
Right: Student Trystan Robbs sings "Birthday Cake" as part of the concert.

Left: WGHS teacher Travis Durfee, backed up by the voices of other faculty members, sings "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. Right: Student Jade Spulak performs "Sailors Horn Pipe" on the flute.

Left: Emcees for the concert were students Melanie Wysocki, left, and Sarah Jones.
Right: Student Kirsten Vestal sings "Home."

3 Schuyler teens attend forum in D.C.,
learn new skills to help prevent drug use

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 8, 2022 -- Members of SCCUDD (Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs , including three teens, recently went to Washington, D.C., to join nearly 3,000 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from throughout the country for CADCA’s (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's) 32nd Annual National Leadership Forum.

The Forum covered a wide range of topics -- everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse to vaping to trending marijuana issues and how to develop policies to reduce underage drinking. Teens who attended participated in training events and learned about leadership and substance use prevention. Schuyler County teens Maisie Robertson (a sophomore at Watkins Glen High School), Carly Arnold (a junior at WGHS), and Aidan Thurston (a senior at Odessa-Montour High School) attended.

“The CADCA forum was an experience I will never forget," said Robertson. "It was amazing to meet people from all over the United States and learn how they are impacting their regions. It was an honor to be one of the youths representing Schuyler County, and I look forward to using what we learned at the forum to help our county."

Added Arnold: “I had a great time, I learned so many things that I didn't know. Most of the sessions we attended I learned great information so I can further help my community to grow.”

SCCUDD representatives heard from several leaders including Dr. Rahul Gupta, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and three former White House Drug Czars: Dr. Robert Dupont (1973-77), General Barry McCaffrey (1996-2001), and Jim Carroll (2019-2021). While in D.C., they were also able to video conference with staff members of Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during the Forum’s Capitol Hill Day event.

The group was unable to meet with Congressman Tom Reed, but he was key in setting up an important event while the group was in town. O-M senior Thurston had recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. With this, an American flag is flown over the Capitol building honoring the Scout’s accomplishment, and then sent to him. It was arranged through Congressman Reed’s office for Aidan’s flag to be flown over the Capital while the group was there.

"The CADCA Forum is an exciting and enlightening experience. I was honored to represent the youth of Schuyler County to our representatives in Congress," said Thurston.

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies.

Photo in text: SCCUDD student members (from left) Aidan Thurston, Carly Arnold and Maisie Robertson in Washington, D.C. (Photo provided)

SCCUDD to conduct 2022 Youth Survey

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Feb. 8, 2022 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) is holding its 2022 Youth Survey for Schuyler County students in grades 7-12 from February 14-18. All Schuyler County students in those grades are being asked to take the survey.

The information collected from the survey is vital in the work that SCCUDD does in helping the families of Schuyler County, says SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. As an incentive for participation, SCCUDD will provide a pizza party for the grade with the highest participation rate from each school. SCCUDD will also be recognizing the school with the highest overall participation rate and announcing participation rates in each of the school districts.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Bush Center names Students of Month

HORSEHEADS, Jan. 5, 2022 -- Otto Hohle, a Watkins Glen junior in the Welding and Metal Fabrication program, and Robert French, Jr., an Edison High School senior in the Culinary Arts program, were selected as the Career and Technical Education Program Students of the Month for November at the GST BOCES Bush Education Center.

“Otto is always polite, on time and on task,” said Teaching Assistant Tom Batrowny. “His work is often used as an example for his classmates and he is always ready to help others. ”

“Robert is a high-achieving student who always strives to do his best in everything he does,” said Instructor Ryan Anderson. “He is hard working and asks many questions to make sure he is getting everything done the way he needs to. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge. ”

The Student of the Month is selected by a committee of CTE staff based on nominations.

Photo in text: Otto Hohle (center), a junior in the Welding and Metal Fabrication program, accepts the Student of the Month award from Teaching Assistant Tom Batrowny (left) and Instructor Mike Lederman (right). (Photo provided)

Hanlon student wins sticker-shock contest

SCCUDD: Design with message will be affixed to 3,000 area pizza boxes

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 13, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) will hold its second annual Pizza Box Sticker Shock event on December 28, 29, and 30 at area stores and restaurants that sell take-out pizza.

A sticker design contest was held for Schuyler County students to come up with this year’s sticker. All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School were eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

Stickers created were to have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. Messages could be about nicotine, tobacco and vaping; alcohol; and prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth.

Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth.

Out of the over two dozen entries, the winning sticker design was created by Hanlon Elementary student Peter Dechow of Montour Falls. His message of “Pizza is good! Drugs are bad! Which will you choose?” will be placed on 3,000 area pizza boxes. Other entries will be placed on SCCUDD multi-media during the month of December, and each contestant will receive a SCCUDD “Shining Star” certificate in recognition of participation.

“It is great that our Hanlon students have been able to participate in the recent SCCUDD activities," said Hanlon Elementary School Principal Dr. Robert Francischelli. "Student awareness, regarding the dangers of drugs and alcohol, is a step in the right direction when promoting a healthy school and community. The earlier our students understand this important topic the better chance they will have to stay clean and be productive members of society in the future.”

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Contest winner Peter Dechow (Photo provided)

Rotary supports Hanlon reading program

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Nov. 7, 2021 -- In August, the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club awarded $500 to support a capstone event for the Hanlon Elementary Countering Summer Slide literacy program.

The, in late October, the grant enabled participating students to enjoy a pizza party and prizes, including Barnes & Noble gift cards and t-shirts, to celebrate their commitment to reading and learning. Each student submitted a log that captured their accomplishments over the summer, and which served as their ticket to the event.

“We are very grateful for the help of Watkins-Montour Rotary, who join us in advancing reading ability and comprehension, and in applauding our students for their hard work and dedication," said Hanlon’s principal, Dr. Rob Francischelli. "Community support is critical to the success of the program, and this grant serves as positive reinforcement to students for a job well done.”

Summer slide is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. The Countering Summer Slide literacy program is a partnership between Hanlon Elementary, Books in Homes USA, and the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes. Last summer was the second year of the program, which has delivered 2,650 books into the hands and personal collections of incoming 3rd-6th grade student in the district. The books are theirs to keep.

Maria Evan, Books in Homes’ Executive Director, added, “Books spark curiosity and discovery, help children travel to new places around the world right from their homes, and establish a foundation for lifelong success. We are excited about the continued momentum of this important program to improve literacy and imagination.”

For more information on Countering Summer Slide, the program or partnership, or how to support future years, contact Kurt Anderson at kurt.for.omcs@gmail.com.

Photo in text: Students and staff at Hanlon Elemetary who have benefitted from the reading program. (Photo provided)

Students at Hanlon Elementary who entered the SCCUDD billboard contest pose in front of the Odessa-Montour High School. (Photo provided)

SCCUDD billboard winner announced

All entries -- 26 of them -- came from Odessa's Hanlon Elementary School

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 3, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) has announced the winning entry in its 2nd annual billboard contest for Schuyler County students in Kindergarten through grade 6.

All students in those grades attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School and Bradford Central School were eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a “winter holiday” theme. The winning billboard will be displayed during the months of December and January.

Billboards created were to have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. Messages could be about nicotine, tobacco, vaping, alcohol, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth.

This year all 26 entries came from Hanlon Elementary in Odessa. Odessa-Montour Art teacher Michelle Walsh was a big reason why so many from Hanlon Elementary participated. “Participating in this project has been a fantastic way for our students to show just how important it is to make healthy choices while staying drug free. I’m so proud of each one of my students and plan to continue having community involvement in the art room,” Walsh said.

Entrants' billboards were placed on SCCUDD’s social media, where the public was encouraged to vote. "Because of all the creative artwork that students provided," SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower said, "it was a very close competition. For this effort, all entered received SCCUDD 'Shining Star' recognition," as did Art teacher Michelle Walsh and Hanlon Elementary Principal Dr. Robert Francischelli.

Participants included: Aspyn Skinner. Aurora Wilcock, Connor Wood, Dalton Smith, Emmerich Koehler, Ethan Raymond, Greyson Schock, Jack Sangprkarn, Jackson Grant, Jett Jeziorski, Karlee Fay, Landon Reynolds, Lexi Strobel, Lila Voorheis, Lilly Bond, Mason Smith, Matthew Van Horn, Mini Turcsik, Odessa Arrance, Paxton Porter, Peter Dechow, Reese Rounds, Ryleigh Wood, Skylar Henderson, and Sophie Dupay.

This year’s winner is Hanlon 4th grade student Hunter Watson (right). His billboard “Stay safe this holiday season” received the most votes from the community. You will be able to see Hunter’s billboard during the months of December and January on Route 14 in Montour Falls (next to the SPCA).

On hand to pass out the awards were SCCUDD President Karen Thurston and her son Aidan, who is not only an Odessa-Montour senior, but a SCCUDD member who also sits on the Executive board.

“I am so grateful to live in a community with so many talented, caring youth. They are making good choices and I think we can all agree that the world needs more kids just like them,” said Karen Thurston. “I would like to commend the staff at OMCS for their dedication to their students’ health and education, and for their continued commitment to our community.”

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help on their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Winning entry and the contest winner, Hunter Watson (Photos provided)

Former Oriskany principal awarded $484K
in ruling against Kelahan and school district

ORISKANY, NY, Oct. 27, 2021 -- A federal jury has awarded $484,000 to a former Oriskany Junior/Senior High School principal in a discrimination lawsuit brought against the school district, its School Board and its former superintendent of schools, Gregory Kelahan.

Kelahan, after leaving Oriskany, was subequently superintendent of the Watkins Glen School District for four years until his retirement at the end of this past summer. He was succeeded as Watkins superintendent by Kai D'Alleva, who had been serving as WGHS principal.

The jury trial was held before Northern District of New York Judge David N. Hurd at the Federal Courthouse in Utica this past Monday. The case derived from a complaint of discrimination filed by former Oriskany principal Lisa Krause in 2017. A full account based on court documents was published in the Rome Daily Sentinel. To read that account, click here.

Not included in that account were motions ruled upon by Judge Hurd two weeks ago. Among those motions were two involving Watkins Glen School District employees, Michelle Simiele and Kristine Somerville.

The two rulings, identical except for the names, read:

"Defendants’ motion to preclude plaintiff from introducing testimony or evidence with regard to (name), her purported experiences, her alleged information, or her purported claims is GRANTED, unless defendants open the door for testimony or evidence concerning (name) that this order would otherwise preclude."

According to a court-related website, the proceedings on Monday, Oct. 25, began at 9 a.m. After motions and closing arguments, the jury returned its verdict at 2:40 p.m., "finding in favor of Plaintiff Lisa Krause in the amount of $484,456. Upon request of defense counsel Judge Hurd Orders the Jury polled, with all jurors concurring with the verdict as rendered."

Judge Hurd, after thanking and releasing the jury, then directed the Clerk "to enter Judgment, in the amount of $484,456.00 in favour of the plaintiff Lisa Krause as against defendants Greg Kelahan, Oriskany Central School District, Oriskany Central School District Board of Education" -- with an order "that any motions directed at the verdict shall be filed no later than November 8, 2021, with responses due by November 22, 2021 and any reply due by December 6, 2021. If motions require argument, they shall be set for December 10, 2021 at 11:00am."

Photo in text: Gregory Kelahan (File photo)

O-M's Class of 1971 holds a weekend reunion

Members of the Odessa-Montour High School Class of 1971 gathered in Schuyler County over the Sept. 17-18 weekend for their 50th anniversary reunion. They gathered Friday night at the Seneca Harbor Station Restaurant, met at the O-M school Saturday afternoon for a tour of the facility led by Superintendent Chris Wood, and ate dinner that evening at the new event center at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. For the photo above (snapped by Superintendent Wood), they posed in front of the school after the tour. Front from left: Jackie Bailey Wickham, Susan Gould Fogerite, Paula Frisk Krist, Claudia Craver LaFace, Barbara Dickinson Neal and Dawn Gardiner Larison. Back from left: Steve McClary, Sharon Herforth Lohmann, Jim Guild, Paul Beebe, Denis Redmond, Paula Sand German and Jim Campbell. A few others had to leave the tour early.

Said Kathy Fudala of the reunion committee: “The 50th Class Reunion was a great success! We had many classmates that we hadn't seen in a long time! Paula Sand German came from Utah, Dawn Gardner Larison, Jeanne Wickham and several others. We had 3 guests -- Dr. Frank Brown, Marian Hinnman (English), and Mr. Brown's great friend: his clarinet :-) Those who went on the school tour were impressed with the changes as well as the changes in progress. We had a trivia game with School Days questions that brought many laughs. Food was great! Friday night, Seneca Harbor Station and Saturday a phenomenal meal by Holy Cow. Thanks to everyone who attended!”

Photo in text: Members of the Class of 1971 gather outside the school before the tour.

SCCUDD holding 2nd annual Schuyler billboard contest for K-6th grade students

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 16, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) is holding its 2nd annual billboard contest for Schuyler County students in kindergarten through 6th grade.

All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School are eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a “Winter Holiday” theme. The winning billboard will be displayed during the months of November and December 2021.

Billboards created must have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. It can be about nicotine/tobacco/vaping, alcohol, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. The message can be about one or all of these topics/substances.

Students are encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth. Students are encouraged to be creative and think about a message that would reach youth. They are also encouraged to NOT use scare tactics.

Billboards need to be submitted by October 1, 2021. Those billboards that are accepted will be displayed on the SCCUDD Facebook page and be voted on by the public. Voting will start on October 1 and end October 8 at midnight. The billboard with the most votes will be announced the following week.

“Last year’s winner was Kaiser Kiklowicz, a fifth-grade student from Bradford,” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. “Will he win again this year? Time will tell.”

Information about contest rules or entry will be provided at each school’s main office, or people can contact SCCUDD directly at 607-535-8140.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help on their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit it online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Auxiliary awards scholarship to Harrian

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 18, 2021 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary has awarded a $1,000 scholarship to a high school graduate who is planning to enter the healthcare field.

Cambri Harrian, daughter of Jason and Laurie Harrian of Bradford, NY, graduated in June from Bradford Central School. She plans to attend St. John Fisher College to study nursing, on her way to becoming a nurse practitioner.

“Our Auxilians work hard each year to raise funds for scholarships, because it means so much to them to support our future healthcare professionals,” said Kitty Shallenberger, President, Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary. “We are proud to recognize Cambri and wish her well in her schooling and her nursing career.”

Scholarship awards are presented each year to graduating high school seniors who live or attend school in Schuyler County and plan to enter careers in the healthcare field.

Awards are based on academic achievement, volunteerism, and personal essays. Previous recipients have been in such diverse fields as orthopedics, dentistry, physical therapy, optometry, speech therapy, and pharmacy.

The Auxiliary awarded its first scholarship of $250 in1990. Funds for the awards are raised through the Auxiliary’s hospital gift shop and other fundraising events.

For more information about the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, call (607) 535-7121, visit www.schuylerhospital.org or email info@schuylerhospital.org.

Photo in text: Cambri Harrian (Photo provided)

Progress, challenges highlight upcoming year in Watkins Glen school district

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 19, 2021 -- Administrative leaders in the Watkins Glen School District outlined to the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club Thursday what promises to be a challenging school year ahead.

The upcoming school superintendent, Kai D’Alleva, headlined a string of speakers that included Kyle Colunio, recently named high school principal; Rod Weeden, the athletic director and communications director; Melanie Chandler, the technology director; and Jeremy Leroux, the Elementary School principal.

D’Alleva said this year is one of transition, what with him taking over as Superintendent from Greg Kelahan on Sept. 1; with Colunio succeeding D’Alleva as high school principal, and the retirement of longtime clerical point person Kathy Crans.

There will also be between 17 and 20 new instructional staff district-wide in a period in which there is a shortage of teachers, of maintenance workers, of transportation personnel, of food service employees, and of substitutes.

“All districts are dealing with this,” said D’Alleva.

While the summer has been one in which the district's ongoing capital improvement project saw a number of advances in infrastructure and roof work, the coming fall and winter offer challenges yet unclear relating to COVID-19 as the Delta variant spreads around the country, including New York State.

The district is not offering remote learning. Instead, it has as a priority full-time in-school attendance, with social distancing. Whether masks are part of the equation has not yet been settled, although D’Alleva said the administrative team expects incoming Governor Kathy Hochul might institute regulations regarding masks, as well as mandates for staff in the realm of regular testing in the absence of vaccination.

State guidance -- whether from the governor’s office, from the State Education Department or from the State Health Department -- seemed to be a non-factor until a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly State Health announced it would be issuing guidance.

The situation has been fluid since then, changing almost daily, and leaving the district fully alert to possible mandates as the school year nears.

In questions from the Rotary audience, D’Alleva said the school enrollment has been steadily shrinking, from “eleven to twelve hundred fifteen years ago” to a little under a thousand now. This can affect class size and offerings, as well as creativity, he noted.

Weeden said there have been challenges in recruiting for some sports in the wake of a year in which many students were at home full time or part of the week under a hybrid attendance schedule. The challenge is to re-engage those who were inactive. One sport, boys soccer, has such low numbers in this and other districts that it might be playing “nine on nine” -- a reduction in the number of players on the field.

Chandler outlined the technology offerings available despite the lag last year in attendance and in-person services; while LeRoux and Colunio outlined capital work that has been done at each of their schools.

D’Alleva, in responding to a question about the dropoff in education created by the pandemic, said that generally speaking some kids “are behind ... More students disconnected from high school last year than ever before; gave up on school. It was less than a handful, but more than I want.”

Added Colunio: “This is not a one-year recovery. It will be years.”

Photos in text: From top: Incoming Superintendent Kai D'Alleva; Athletic Director Rod Weeden; and High School Principal Kyle Colunio at Rotary Club.

SCCUDD shares Back to School tips

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 18, 2021 -- It’s time for Schuyler County youth to head back to school and there is no better time to talk to your child about preventing alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use, says the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD).

As your children head back to school, they may be faced with new social situations and exposed to underage drinking or drugs, notes SCCUDD, adding: "By taking time at the beginning of the school year to communicate openly and set expectations, you can reduce the likelihood of your child choosing to drink or use drugs."

SCCUDD is sharing the following back-to-school tips provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), for parents who want to encourage their child to stay substance-free this school year:

-- Talk early and talk often with children and teens about alcohol and marijuana. Teens who know their parents expect them not to use are less likely to.

-- Establish rules about alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use and be consistent when enforcing them.

-- Work with other parents to know where youths are hanging out and what they are doing. Being involved in your child’s life helps keep them safe.

-- Never provide alcohol or marijuana to young people under the age of 21. It is against the law.

Additional information on how to plan “the talk” with your child can be found here:

https://drugfree.org/parent-blog/back-school-survival-guide-parents/

If you are interested in keeping Schuyler County youth safe by preventing underage alcohol and drug use, contact SCCUDD to learn how you can get involved. Or if you know a youth who is passionate about prevention, the coalition has a youth committee that meets during the school year. Contact SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower at 607-535-8140 for more information.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Scholarship recipients and their postgraduate plans included, from left: Maria Brubaker, Bucknell University, $1,500; Bryce Kelly, RIT, $1,000; Briana Hayes, Alfred U., $1,000.

WGHS Alumni group awards scholarships

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 14, 2021 -- Although the annual Watkins Glen Alumni Banquet had to, once again, be cancelled due to the pandemic, it did not prevent the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association from continuing to award scholarships to five graduating seniors.

Amounts for the five scholarships totaled $6,000. They went to Maria Brubaker ($1,500), Bryce Kelly ($1,000), Briana Hayes ($1,000), Kelsey DeMillo ($1,000), and Seamus Mooney ($1,500).

Since 2007 the Alumni Association has awarded a total of $72,300 in scholarships.

Says Association President Peggy Scott: "We are extremely proud to be able to present these annual scholarships. Scholarship recipients from the last two years will be invited to the annual banquet in 2022."

Photos in text: Recipients Seamus Mooney, attending SUNY Albany ($1,500); and Kelsey DeMillo, attending SUNY Geneseo ($1,000).

The Odessa-Montour school's front parking lot has been closed all summer as it is rebuilt.

O-M's capital project is in full swing

ODESSA, Aug. 11, 2021 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District's $16.9 million capital improvement project is moving forward on multiple fronts this summer as fall classes near.

The project, for which planning started in 2015 and which gained state approval in 2019, includes various upgrades and new systems -- including a link to the sewage treatment operation being built at the western end of the village, on land purchased by the Village of Odessa from the Wesleyan Church.

The school -- the first entity to connect to the sewage treatment operation -- is scheduled to be linked to it by Aug. 29, days before the start of the new school year. The new system will replace an old septic and leech-field operation on school property. Part of the capital project under way this week involves filling in the old system's septic tanks.

It also involves:

-- Asbestos abatement, with a large removal vehicle parked alongside the original section of the school, pulling out asbestos-laden material from the basement.

-- Roof repair on about 20 percent of the sprawling main campus.

-- Renovation of wood shops, art rooms and the old Jack Davis Gym.

-- The installation of hundreds of new windows

-- The repair and replacement of exterior brick siding, and the repair of grout in old masonry walls.

-- Replacement of the loading dock behind the school's original section.

-- Replacement of the aging and drainage challenged front parking lot and drive-through lane (with new, increased lighting).

-- New boys and girls locker rooms where the old ones stood in the vicinity of the Jack Davis Gym and the school pool.

-- Power washing of the entire complex.

-- Installation of a new generator down at B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls.

-- A new combination digital clock--fire alarm-public address system.

-- New wiring.

-- And, should it be approved by the School Board this month, new decking and gutters for the pool, and a new boiler and pumping system in a room beneath it.

And so on. The list is long, and according to school officials long needed. Not everything will be ready by the first day of school, but some projects -- such as the parking lot -- are scheduled to be.

The delivery of windows has been slow, so their installation, while well under way, will continue during school breaks, probably stretching into next summer.

The Jack Davis Gym -- with just about everything new, including flooring, bleachers, baskets, and windows, along with repaired walls -- is scheduled for completion in February. A wholly rebuilt wood shop -- once a pair of brick-wall-separated rooms and now sharing a connecting doorway and offering STEM and Green Room facilities, will be ready in October.

This is the third capital improvement project in recent years at O-M, and by far the largest. One dealt with installation of a new track on the athletic field and a new bus garage roof, while the second focused on technology wiring. The local share of this one -- about $2.75 million -- was covered by the long-planned application of surplus funds.

Photos in text: From top, an asbestos abatement truck; a new digital clock, part of an upgraded communication-fire alarm system; Superintendent Chris Wood checking out some of the new school wiring; and the Jack Davis Gym, undergoing a total renovation.

Club awards scholarships to 3 graduates

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 19, 2021 -- The Ladies Wednesday Afternoon Club has presented scholarships to three graduating serniors in Schuyler County high schools -- Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen.

The $150 scholarships, given annually to graduates planning on attending a college or trade school, went to:

-- Kalena Bennett from Bradford Central School. Kalena, the club said, "has persevered to overcome many barriers that were put in front of her, demonstrating her determination to strive for the best possible outcome, while completing her dreams and goals." She will be attending Alfred State College in the fall to study Culinary Arts.

-- Emilee Chaffinch from Odessa Montour Central School. Emilee, the club said, "is a very hard working student who does not let challenges get in her way. She has completed the Dental Assisting program at BOCES, and plans on attending Corning Community College for Liberal Arts." She then plans to transfer to Broome Community College to become a Dental Hygienist.

-- Heidi Gardner from Watkins Glen Central School. Heidi, the club said, "is a dedicated student with a bright future. She completed the honors New Visions program at BOCES, and is dedicated to furthering her education so that she can help others." Her plan is to pursue studies in occupational therapy at Corning Community College.

Zonta awards scholarships to 4 graduates

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 15, 2021 -- The Zonta Club of Watkins-Montour has awarded $250 scholarships to each of four graduating high school females.

At Watkins Glen High School, the VanBilliard Business Award was presented to Sara Wynkoop. At the same school, the Belle Cornell Award for medical study went to Amanda Wilbur.

At Odessa-Montour High School, the Van Billiard Business Award went to Hali Daugherty, while the Belle Cornell Award went to Alexis Ayers.

The Watkins-Montour Zonta Club, meeting since 1925 and a member of Zonta International. is accepting new members. Call (607) 425-2835. For a history of the club, visit  Facebook, typing in “Zonta Club of Watkins Montour” and clicking on the yellow rose.

WGHS Honor Roll for 2020-21 year

Here are the High Honor, Honor and Merit Rolls for the Watkins Glen School District for the 2020-21 school year. It is the only Honor Roll issued by the district for the year.

High Honor Roll

Grade 7
Wendy J. Coleman, Gillian M. D'Alleva, Ryan C. Dean, Draco V. Del Toro, Anna R. Franzese, Zade I. Gomez Fitzsimmons, Samuel B. Hohle, Olivia K. King, Clarice E. Lewis, Brock E. McFall, Emily Melveney, Michael E. Purpura, Erin R. Snow, Jade L. Spulak, Carson W. Thaete, Cordelia A. Thompson

Grade 8
Brady M. Bockelkamp, Nicholas M. Brusso, Samuel D. Caslin, Nicholas D. D'Alleva, Kendra N. Fish, Isayiah D. Gilbert, Aleice E. Guild, Skye Honrath, Joshua T. Nyre, Molly A. O'Connell‑Campbell, Magdalene G. Pentz, Salvatore J. Purpura, Naja J. Radoja, Molly R. Rafferty, Nicholas J. Ritter, Jocelyn E. Sisana, Liam B. Smith, Julian L. Soule, Olivia F. VanSkiver, Autumn L. White, Kyra P. Yaw

Grade 9
Sachidhananthar J. Abidhananthar, Lukas R. Bower, Sydney O. Brubaker, Malina Butler, Brandon L. Chiacchiarini, Ava K. Cowan, Alyson L. Gibson, Madison E. Hansen, Sarah G. Jones, Mabel Kaufman, Thalia M. Marquez, Elijah A. Nyre, Brenna A. Pierce, Maisie A. Robertson, Keira D. Sulkey, Johnny R. VanScoyk

Grade 10
Ava M. Barber, Kendall E. Gascon, Lois L. Hosley, Maia N. Kamakawiwoole, Han Shun Liu, Nikhil N. Manakkal, Alyssa M. Miller, Shane M. Miller, Faye D. Mooney, Katrina C. Ricca, Sarah K. Schaffner, Jenna M. Solomon, Emmalise K. Updyke

Grade 11
Brady A. Bargesser, Gavin Bond, Kaylynn K. Burke, Breanna Carl, Douglas DiGregorio, Molly K. Dunham, Noah S. Gardner, Andrew C. Hayes, Cameron C. Holland, Ashlyn L. Karius, Isabella F. La Face, Sierra F. Morris, Matthew W. Sandritter, Kara M. Sheesley, Anya M. Simpson, Jordannmarie C. Simpson, Kimberly D. Smith Brown, Brandon L. Smith, Benjamin R. Swinnerton, Kade J. Westervelt, Melanie P. Wysocki, Robin M. Zimba

Grade 12
Boyd W. Barber, Maria S. Brubaker, Jun Yi (Jack) Chen, Timothy Clifford, Abby M. Congdon, Shannon E. Ervay, Wolfgang J. Gates, Briana L. Hayes, Mikayla B. Holmes, Bryce J. Kelly, Seamus Mooney, Dylan M. Morse, Nolan R. Ormsbee, Kayla M. Palmer, Anthony M. Ricauter-Minelli, Jasmine F. Searle, Brooke M. Usher, Nicholas J. Wright

Honor Roll


Grade 7
Alfina J. Abidhananthar, Caleb J. Bresett, Logan J. DeBolt, Desiree G. Groves, Jack D. Hayden, Maulena Kamakawiwoole, Courtney Karius, Gillian S. Kaufman, Enric Lin, Gabriel Majors, Grace E. Roney, Christopher M. Simiele, Kaylin R. Smith, Rachel M. Vickio, Justin T. Wrubel, Hannah J. Yaw, Kaylee A. Yaw

Grade 8

Ryan N. Berry, Jennifer L. Gublo, Carley M. Hansen, Aidan M. Maphis, Abigayle E. Miller, Lillian Naylor, Kyelan F. Perko, Maximus A. Ricca, Emilia G. Rodriguez, Isaiah Rudy, Maria J. Scaptura, Isaiah E. Sissel

Grade 9
Nicholas B. Bonsignore, Drake Croft, Thomas J. Field, Sasha G. Honrath, Alannah D. Klemann, Giuseppe S. La Face, Thomas J. Snow

Grade 10
Carly E. Arnold, Hannah M. Berry, Caleb F. Cummings, Sebastian W. Gates, Skylar E. Lagramada, Ann M. Roney, Isabella S. Samuel

Grade 11
Haley Carl, Daniel D. Ely, Michael J. Gee, Madelynn P. Jones, Alexis C. King, Emily G. Rhoads, Charlie O. Samuel, Owen J. Scholtisek, Christa R. Taber, Colby C. Thurston

Grade 12
Jaden T. Ault, Victoria P. Bantin, Spencer E. Beaver, Michael E. Cook, Natalie E. Edmister, Silas P. Farrell, Cammilynn E. McCarty, Genevieve Osborne, Raymond F. Rider, Cale M. Sutterby, Nicholas A. Wilston, Sarai E. Wynkoop

Merit Roll

Grade 7
Marcus P. Delong, Lucas A. Hoffmann, Kamden J. Miller, Carter Presutti

Grade 8
Balan N. Ault, Isabella M. Bassett, Madaline E. Bryerton, Brennian F. Elliott, Alivia J. Franklin

Grade 9

Ryan J. Bauchle-Willett

Grade 10
Abigail Lees, Kadin A. Simpson, Jacob D. Yontz

Grade 11
Bailey E. Beaumont, Ethan W. Day, Abigail L. Gibson, Mason A. Lampman, Jacob J. Pierce, Cloey N. Wratten

Grade 12
Jordan D. Avery, Aydin C. Bedir, Emma E. Bradshaw, Matthew A. Irwin, Sarah E. Joslyn, Connor E. Novinsky, Ava VanDusen, Madeline C. Williams, Mattie E. Yontz

SCCUDD leads grad sticker shock event

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 7, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) partnered with ten area businesses to hold a three-day alcohol retailer sticker shock event June 18,19, and 20.

The project consisted of youth designed substance abuse prevention stickers being placed on alcohol products and bags asking patrons to help stop underage drinking. This year’s sticker was designed by SCCUDD member and rising Odessa-Montour senior Aidan Thurston.

The message on the sticker reads “Give graduates the gift of good health, stop underage drinking.” A timely message for high school graduations and the celebrations that come with them. Businesses that partnered with SCCUDD in making the project such a success included the Odessa Dandy Mini Mart, Linda’s Citco, Montour Falls Wine & Spirits, the Hector Dandy Mini Mart, TOPS Friendly Market, Walmart, Wright’s Beverages, Sinclair, Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits, and the Burdett Dandy Mini Mart.

“Three days, 10 alcohol retailers, and 2,000 stickers going out into the community,” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. “All ten businesses were welcoming and helpful.  We are already talking about making it even bigger for next year!”

It is never too soon to start talking to your child about the dangers of underage drinking. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) nearly 10% of children age 12 say they have tried alcohol; by age 15, that number jumps to 50%, and by the time they are seniors the number rises to nearly 70% who have tried alcohol. To learn more about the dangers of underage drinking, or to start the conversation with your child about the dangers of underage drinking:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/make-a-difference-child-alcohol

https://www.samhsa.gov/talk-they-hear-you/parent-resources/why-you-should-talk-your-child

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with our community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

Photos in text: Shane Mosher, manager of the Hector Dandy Mini Mart ; and a closeup of the sticker. (Provided)

Garrison awarded Hayes Scholarship

WATKINS GLEN, July 2, 2021 -- The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler has awarded its Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship to Autumn Garrison, recently graduated from Odessa-Montour High School.

The $1,000 scholarship honors Joanne Hayes, former board member and president of The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler's board of directors who passed away in 1987. The award is given annually to a graduating senior pursuing an education in human services, special education, or a related field for a career providing supports to people with developmental disabilities.

Garrison, daughter of Frank and Polly Garrison, will enroll this fall to obtain her Nursing Degree, at a school still to be determined. In her application essay, Garrison expressed her desire to do all she can to help people in need around her, as well as to positively impact people through kindness and determination.

Garrison has been involved with numerous extracurricular activities and community service experiences throughout her years in high school. In his letter of support, Greg Gavich, social studies teacher and basketball coach, stated: "Autumn is the type of person who is a great representative for any organization she is part of. She displays great character and leadership by setting a good example for others to follow."

School Counselor Daniel Batchelder added: "She is someone who can be counted on when others need help."

The Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through community donations to The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler.

Photo in text: Autumn Garrison (Photo provided)

Valedictorian Megan Adams, left, switches her tassel from the right to the left, signifying graduation, as classmates follow suit.

Odessa-Montour bids farewell to 55 grads

ODESSA, June 25, 2021 -- Fifty-five graduating seniors who earned their diplomas this year at Odessa-Montour High School received them Friday evening in a ceremony on Charles Martin Field, the athletic complex behind the school.

Following an introduction by Lillian Betts, the Class of 2021 President, the graduates saw High School Principal Almon McCarty Jr. present a Salutatorian Medal to Madison Vogel, and then heard the keynote address by teacher Russell Gardner, who is retiring.

He told them to view graduation as a doorway to the future -- one of several doorways they will encounter in life, each offering an end to one chapter but a beginning of another.

This graduation doorway, he said, also presented an opportunity to look back at their accomplishments, among them graduation itself, which "can never be taken away from you."

Megan Adams, after receiving the Valedictorian Medal, delivered an address in which she noted how her class had overcome many obstacles created by the pandemic, and told her classmates to look ahead and "aspire to greatness."

Board of Education President Robert Halpin then presented the diplomas, assisted by Schools Superintendent Chris Wood.

The 55 graduates are:

Megan Lynn Adams
Liam Amis
Isabella Lee Arlington
Cody I. Austin
Alexis R. Ayers
Stephen Michael Barrett Jr.
Joshua Christian Beckley
Michael A. Benway Jr.
Lillian Elizabeth Betts
Reagan Macee Bishop
Morgan J. Burnham
Taylor Cain
Jessica O. Carnes
Emilee Rae Chaffinch
Zachary Clemons
Grace J. Collier
Felisha A. Cook
Hali Daugherty
Jared Detrick
Cameron M. Diedrichs
Emily Abigail Donnell
Mackenzie Ellen Dundas
Jeffrey E. Eberhardt
Cameron Michael Elliott
Megan Evans
Autumn Jade Garrison
Allison Rae Heichel
Hannah Elizabeth Hoose
Taryn Elizabeth Hoyt
Jacob A. Johnston
Haley Marie Landon
Josiah Lynch
Devon R. Mahaney
Emma Jane Malnoske
Malia Lee Mertens
Sarina Minichello
Brady Neal
Angel Elizabeth Pallone
Phoenix A. Parmenter
Cole Pierce
Damion Rhodehouse
Mallory Rhodes
Anthony Robinson
Thomas C. Rumpff Jr.
Jared Christopher Rumsey
Tyler Saunders
Brock Sgrecci
Ida Josephine Sidle
Samantha Marie Sipes
Evan Underdown
Nathan L. VanAmburg
Madison M. Vogel
Brock Webb
Madisyn Wells
Dana Elizabeth Zimmer

Photos in text: From top, Lillian Betts is congratulated by Superintendent Chris Wood; Brock Sgrecci, Jared Rumsey and Tyler Saunders receive their diplomas, and keynote speaker Russell Gardner.

Left: Taryn Hoyt with her diploma. Right: Mallory Rhodes has her arms full.

Left: One of many colorful graduation caps. Right: Zachary Clemons with his diploma.

Left: Autumn Garrison. Right: Madison Vogel receives the Salutatorian Medal from High School Principal Almon McCarty Jr.

From left: Ida Sidle; Valedictorian Megan Adams delivers the Class Message; and Superintendent Chris Wood gets a hug from Mallory Rhodes as she was presented with her diploma.

Graduate Jared Rumsey had his own cheering section as he was presented his diploma.

Hanlon kids benefit from Foundation grant

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, June 22, 2021 -- The Howard A. Hanlon Elementary School, in partnership with Books in Homes USA (BIH USA), a Pennsylvania-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring a love of reading in underserved communities, has been awarded $2,000 from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes to support its "Countering Summer Slide-Year 2" literacy program.

The grant is matched by private donations from community members and will enable Hanlon to deliver 1,607 books to every incoming 3rd-6th grader before summer break (approx. 6.7 books/student); the books are theirs to keep.

Maria Even, BIH USA Executive Director, said, “At BIH USA, entirely 100% of donations go toward purchasing books. Books spark discovery and imagination, help children travel to new places around the world right from their homes, and establish a foundation for lifelong success. We are excited to partner with Hanlon Elementary School and the Community Foundation for the second year of this important program to improve literacy and fuel curiosity.”

Summer slide is a tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year, requiring teachers to spend valuable time refreshing spring lessons rather than focusing on current curriculum. The program’s inaugural year at Hanlon delivered 1,080 books to incoming 3rd-5th graders (approx. 5.8 books/student), especially critical during a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and school shutdown. It, too, was supported by the Community Foundation and private donations.

“We are excited to celebrate reading with our Hanlon students for the second straight summer! Students were overjoyed last year when we were able to give them books to keep and enjoy, and we are delighted to have the same opportunity again this year. We thank all of our community partners that made this happen, including OMCS board member-elect, Kurt Anderson, and PFO representative, Jenny Lewis,” added Dr. Rob Francischelli, Hanlon principal.

The program will include a capstone pizza and ice cream social for participating students when school returns in the fall. For more information on “Countering Summer Slide-Hanlon Year 2,” the program or partnership, or how to support future years, contact Kurt Anderson at kurt.for.omcs@gmail.com.

Bryce Kelly delivers the Salutatory Address. In the background, from left, are School Board President Gloria Brubaker, Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker, and Superintendent Greg Kelahan.

WGHS graduates 65 in outdoor ceremony

WATKINS GLEN, June 20, 2021 -- Sixty-five seniors received their diplomas Sunday morning as Watkins Glen High School bid farewell to the Class of 2021.

A day after persistent rain, Sunday dawned bright, with alternate sun and non-threatening clouds greeting the outdoor ceremony, held at the base of the bleachers at the school's Alumni Field. The audience of mostly family lined seats set up on the eastern edge of the field's artificial playing surface.

Three student speakers delivered remarks, including Salutatorian Bryce Kelly, Valedictorian Kayla Palmer, and the Senior Class Orator, Briana Hayes. They spoke after the Processional, the National Anthem, and remarks by High School Principal Kai D'Alleva and Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker.

Brubaker told the graduates to "attack the future; be bold" in their dreams and aspirations.

D'Alleva told them "we started this journey together six years ago," but that nobody could have predicted its course, which was mightily affected in their junior and senior years by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kelly, in his speech, thanked teachers who had "inspired and pushed me to be my best." He told the students that each has "the potential to change the world, to leave a massive mark" through their achievements.

Palmer told them not to fear the future, but to "take a leap of faith" to be the successes they hope to be.

And Hayes, in her Oratory, said the Class of 2021 -- largely together since Pre-Kindergarten -- had "generally stuck together" despite a diverse makeup. "We don't always understand each other," she said, but do respect each other's individual talents.

The class came through school at "the worst possible time" thanks to the pandemic, and never got its Senior Trip or Senior All-Nighter, she added, "but our spirit has persevered."

She closed by saying: "Go Bills."

After remarks by Superintendent Greg Kelahan, diplomas were distributed, with D'Alleva announcing each name and School Board President Gloria Brubaker handing the diplomas out.

The graduates awarded diplomas included the following. The first 10 constitute the Top 10 academically in the class.

Kayla Palmer
Bryce Kelly
Briana Hayes
Dylan Morse
Maria Brubaker
Timothy Clifford
Kelsey DeMillo
Amanda Wilbur
Shannon Ervay
Heidi Gardner
Kaitlin Rose Asbury
Jaden Treasure Ault
Jordan Douglas Avery
Savannah Rayne Ayers
Robert Joseph Bannon
Victoria Patience Bantin
Boyd William Barber
Spencer Edward Beaver
Aydin Cem Bedir
Christopher Ryan Berry
Emma Elizabeth Bradshaw
Kyra Renee Brisbois
Lukas Henry Brown
Jun Yi Chen
Abby Morgan Congdon
Michael Edward Cook
Hayley Marie Cornish
Devon Cummings
Jacob Richard DeJong
Tanner Jay Dunham
Natalie Elizabeth Edmister
Maxwell Joseph Evans
Silas P. Farrell
Kaylee Rae Franklin
Wolfgang Jack Wilder Gates
Jonathan Basil Havel III
Mikayla Brooklynn Holmes
Matthew Alexander Irwin
Sarah Elizabeth Joslyn
Madeleine Elaine Kilcoyne
Aislinn Elizabeth Klemann
Kaden Logan Loucks
Cammilynn Elise McCarty
Halie A. Monington
Seamus Mooney
John Allan Muir
Connor Evan Novinsky
Nolan Robert Ormsbee
Genevieve Osborne
Justin M. Rappleye
Anthony Michael Ricauter-Minelli
Raymond Fredrick Harold Rider
Jasmine Fiona Searle
Madyson Haley Simpson
David Joseph Strait
Cale Michael Hall Sutterby
Joel Emerson Trinkle
Brooke Marie Usher
Ava Louchia VanDusen
Madeline Christine Williams
Nicholas Adam Wilston
Nicholas J. Wright
Sarai E. Wynkoop
Nicholas W. Yaw
Mattie Elizabeth Yontz

Photos in text: From top: Madyson Simpson receives her diploma from School Board President Gloria Brubaker; Aislinn Klemann receives her diploma; graduate Amanda Wilbur; Kayla Palmer delivers the Valedictory Address; and Matt Irwin receives his diploma.

Left: Briana Hayes, left, arrives on stage to deliver the Senior Oratory. Right: Graduate Nick Wilston after receiving his diploma.

From left: Graduates Maria Brubaker and Hayley Cornish, and the cap worn by graduate Mattie Yontz. It reads: "Now it's my turn to teach."

Left: Dylan Morse receives his diploma from School Board President Gloria Brubaker. Right: Graduate Mattie Yontz with her diploma.

Sign on the press box overlooking Alumni Field, site of the graduation ceremony.

2021 list of WGHS Scholarship Awards

The following list of 2021 Scholarship Awards given to Watkins Glen High School graduating students was provided by the school.

Amber Brockway Award: Cammilynn McCarty
Beth MacNamara Memorial Scholarship: Jack Chen
Devon Shaw “Defense for Devon” Memorial Award: Bryce Kelly
Elizabeth Amisano Ovarian Cancer Education Fund “Live Like Liz” Scholarship: Shannon Ervay, Bryce Kelly
Eric HouseKnecht Memorial Award: Nicholas Wright
Frances Freer Mucklow Scholarship Fund: Kayla Palmer
Frank DeSarno IV Memorial Scholarship: Matthew Irwin
Freeman Family Foundation Teaching Award: Kelsey DeMillo
Harriette F. Allen Award: Dylan Morse
Hector Area Lion’s Club: Aislinn Klemann
Investigator Sergeant Louis A. Van Cleef II Memorial Award: Silas Farrell
Jimmy Combs Athletic Award: Bryce Kelly
JoPat Paradiso Wright Nursing Scholarship: Kayla Palmer
Ladies Wednesday Afternoon Club of Burdett Award: Heidi Gardner
Lake Country Players Performing Arts Award: Shannon Ervay
Lucy E. Viglione Award: Briana Hayes
Maurice Costa (Theresa Costa) Scholarship Award: Anthony Ricauter-Minelli
Melissa B. Wilson Sportsmanship Award: Natalie Edmister
Nick Dugo Memorial Scholarship: Maria Brubaker
Northrup Foundation Award: Kayla Palmer
NYS Education Dept. Scholarships for Academic Excellence: Kayla Palmer, Bryce Kelly, Briana Hayes
Peter A. Pevo Memorial Ed Award: Abby Congdon
PTO Academic Improvement Award: Ray Rider
PTO Community Service Award: Aislinn Klemann
Schuyler County Dart League Math Award: Timothy Clifford
Schuyler County Highway Association Scholarship: Natalie Edmister
Schuyler County Retired Teachers’ Association Award: Shannon Ervay
Spirit of Schuyler: Maria Brubaker, Shannon Ervay
Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546 Annual Scholarship: Timothy Clifford
Watkins Glen Faculty Association Member’s Child Scholarship: Shannon Ervay
Watkins Glen Faculty Association Education Scholarship: Kelsey DeMillo
Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association Award: Maria Brubaker, Kelsey DeMillo, Briana Hayes, Bryce Kelly, Seamus Mooney
Watkins Montour Lions Club John Cook Milford Warner “Bud Warner” Academic Achievement Award: Kayla Palmer
Watkins Montour Lions Club John Cook Milford Warner “Bud Warner” Improved Student Award: Jun Yi (Jack) Chen
Watkins-Montour Rotary Club Achievement Scholarship: Timothy Clifford
Zonta/Belle Cornell Club Award: Amanda Wilbur
Zonta/Francis Van Billard Club Award: Sarai Wynkoop
Seal of Bi-Literacy: Kayla Palmer, Briana Hayes
Varsity Academic Marathon Award: Maria Brubaker, Timothy Clifford, Kelsey DeMillo, Shannon Ervay, Wolfgang Gates, Briana Hayes, Bryce Kelly, Dylan Morse, Kayla Palmer, Amanda Wilbur

Irwin wins SCCUDD's billboard contest

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 13, 2021 -- Watkins Glen High School senior Matt Irwin is the winner of the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) billboard contest for county students in grades 7-12.

His billboard features him and his race car after a big win with the message “Enjoy Graduation. But make it to Victory Lane alive! Don’t Drink And Drive!”

The idea came to Irwin naturally, as he is a an actual local race car driver who will be attending the NASCAR technical Institute in Mooresville, NC after graduation to study engine building, fabrication, and pit crew with the dream of one day being a NASCAR driver.

“It was fun being part of this contest, especially seeing my car on a billboard,” said Irwin. "I am very grateful for the opportunity and to everyone who voted for my billboard.”

All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School were eligible in the contest, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest was for substance abuse prevention messages targeting prom and graduation.The winning billboard is being displayed on Route 14 in Montour Falls during the months of May and June.

Billboard entries were to have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth

Billboard entries were placed on SCCUDD’s social media, where the public was encouraged to vote.

“Matt’s creative and personal message is exactly what we were thinking of when we were forming the contest,” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit it online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Matt Irwin and his billboard. (Photo provided)

School Board OKs 'Pandemic Persistence Honorarium' of $750 per district worker

WATKINS GLEN, May 5, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Tuesday night approved a one-time "Pandemic Persistence Honorarium" awarding $750 to each employee of the district who has worked there the entire school year and is a member of one of the district's five associations or a non-member Civil Service employee.

The move came, said Superintendent Greg Kelahan, in recognition of "the great challenges" faced by district workers and "the mental, emotional and physical toll" imposed by the pandemic on the school staff as it worked its way through ever-changing regulations and the need to adopt a new and flexible way of delivering education.

"The Board of Education has been very interactive with staff and recognized the terrific burden" its members shouldered this school year, he said. The honorarium "has been in the works for weeks," he added, with district officials meeting with presidents of the five associations representing administration, teachers, clerical, general and transportation workers.

The amount was selected, he explained, so that each worker would have about $500 after taxes. The money, about $170,000 in total, comes from the fund balance, and has no effect, he said, on the upcoming 2021-22 budget.

The amount paid to anyone working less than the full year would be prorated, he added.

The board also:

--Approved the appointment of three new teachers and two coaches:

Katalin Boroczky -- Teacher, Science
Ismael Villafane -- Teacher, Spanish
Julie Powell -- Teacher, Special Education
Ian Chedzoy -- Modified Lacrosse Coach
Mark Moskal -- Modified Lacrosse Volunteer Coach

--Heard a report from District Business Manager Amy Howell on the upcoming budget vote, set for May 18 in the Board of Education meeting room on the north side of the high school building. Hours will be 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The $27,120,691 budget, while showing a 2.42% increase in expenditures, calls for no increase in the tax levy, which stands once again at $9.6 million. The estimated taxes per $1,000 of assessed value will be $10.90, the same as this year.

Voting will take place at the same time on three School Board vacancies, two for three years and one for two years. The candidates are James Somerville, Joseph Crane, Michael Myers, Heather Dawson, Joe Stansfield, Barbara Schimizzi, Brittany Oliver and Amanda Voorheis.

Photos in text: Superintendent Greg Kelahan and Board President Gloria Brubaker at Tuesday night's meeting.

WGHS graduation date set for June 20th

WATKINS GLEN, April 22, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen School District, after changing the graduation date from June 19 to June 26 in a bow to Juneteenth, has settled instead on Father's Day, June 20.

The initial date change angered some parents and students who had made plans for the weekend of June 19-20. The district, on advice of counsel, had moved the date fairly late in the planning stages -- in March -- in deference to Juneteenth, which is now a holiday in New York State.

Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day among other names, is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and celebrates African American achievements. It falls on the anniversary of the 1865 pronouncement by Union Army General Gordon Granger that proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas. The holiday originated in Texas, and has spread across the U.S., with official recognition varying.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 14 signed into law legislation designating Juneteenth as an official public holiday in this state.

Watkins Glen Superintendent Greg Kelahan said that the district, in response to the objections aired by several parents at a School Board meeting in late March, sent out a survey to district families asking if they preferred June 26 or a different date, June 20.

"A considerable number were comfortable with either," he said. But enough liked the 20th that the change was made to that day, a Sunday. "If it works for the community, it works for us," he added.

The ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m., although potential pandemic restrictions might force two ceremonies, back to back, with one in the late morning followed by one at 2 p.m.

Photo in text: School Superintendent Greg Kelahan at Wednesday's meeting.

WG School Board sends budget to voters; WGFA chief airs rift over union proposal

WATKINS GLEN, April 22, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Wednesday night unanimously approved a proposed budget that will be sent to district voters on Tuesday, May 18. Voting will be from 12 noon to 8 p.m. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 4.

The plan calls for a total 2021-22 district budget of $27,120,691 -- a $641,814, or 2.4%, increase in spending over 2020-21. But it also calls for no increase from last year's tax levy of $9,600,000.

In includes estimated figures, such as for salaries for members of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, with whom negotiations are currently underway.

There is an increase in the Transportation Budget of $107,702, reflecting an increase in wages and fuel as bus use in a post-pandemic climate rises.

District Business Manager Amy Howell, in her proposal to the board, noted that with the tax levy unchanged, "if tax assessed valuations are increased by Schuyler County, taxpayers within the district will likely see a decline in their school district tax bill per $1,000 of value. If there is no change in valuations, the estimated real property tax will be $10.90 per $1,000 in value."

The budget vote will be accompanied by a vote for three members of the School Board -- two for terms of three years each, and one for a term of two years. Candidates include incumbent Barb Schimizzi along with Jim Somerville, Michael Myers, Amanda Voorheis, Joseph Crane, Joseph Stansfield, Heather Dawson, and Brittany Oliver. Incumbent Kris Clarkson is not seeking re-election, and Board President Gloria Brubaker is stepping down before the end of her term.

Tenures granted:

The board approved tenure for a number of district instructors. They include teaching assistants April Simmons, Renee Riley, Richard Campbell, and Christine Irwin; Speech Pathologist Melissa Burns; and teachers Cheryle Earl (Math), Jason Westervelt (Physical Education), Kelsey Pinette (Music), Nichole Chaffee (Elementary), Jeannette Gilbert (Elementary), Emily Richmond-Handley (Art), and Margaret King (Special Education).

Library budget presentation

Watkins Glen Library Board President Judy Phillips offered a brief presentation to the board on the library's proposed $204,262 budget, a decrease of 0.78% from the current year.

A public hearing on the plan is set from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, May 4 via Zoon (e-mail SavardT@stls.org to attend). The vote will be held on May 18.

Rift with Union

Watkins Glen Faculty Association President Jeannette Lasko spoke to the board about a current situation the union finds unsettling and confusing. Her presentation follows:

"Good evening, members of the Board of Education:

"Four years ago, the Watkins Glen Faculty Association met with our Board of Education as we embarked on a search for a new superintendent. We discussed our hopes for a leader and what we wanted in the years to come. Two years ago, the WGFA Executive Board was invited into discussions during a BOE executive session. Hoping to build on these experiences, the WGFA reached out to you last week with an invitation for some friendly conversation. We had hoped to discuss our current climate and culture and to chat about our visions for the future.

"But unfortunately, I never received a reply from anyone on the board, and we were informed that the district is filing an improper practice charge against us for our request. While we have yet to receive the formal paperwork from the Public Employees Relations Board on this charge, we were directed by the district’s Labor Relations Specialist/attorney to cease and desist requests for conversations with the Board of Education. In essence, the teachers and staff of your district were told that they can’t talk to you. Our only option, as directed by the district’s LRS and attorney, is share our thoughts in the public comment portion of a formal meeting.

I’m still not exactly sure what was inappropriate about our request as we had no intention of discussing anything regarding contract negotiations. We wanted to talk about ways that we can come together to make our district what we know it can be. We wanted to talk about collaboration on decision making. We wanted to talk about ways to show our staff that they are important and valued. We wanted to talk about methods for open communication and discussion. We were excited to sit down with the elected leaders of our district for transparent and friendly conversation. But unfortunately, we were met with unnecessary legal action.

"I’m not sure where we go from here. except to say our offer for conversation still stands. As a result of the prospect of litigation against the WGFA, we are now hoping you will come to us. Organize open forums. Send us surveys. Call us. Show up in our hallways and stop by our classrooms. We want to talk to you. We want you to know the truth about how our schools are operating and how we are often misrepresented and how at times it seems there is an intention to divide us rather than bring us together.

"But also, that we educate the students of this community every day with compassion, enthusiasm and dedication. We see the key to a successful relationship and partnership is open communication."

Photos in text:

From top: Watkins Glen School Board President Gloria Brubaker, Watkins Glen Library Board President Judy Phillips, WGFA President Jeannette Lasko, and School Board member Kevin Rumsey at Wednesday's meeting.

New members of the WGHS Chapter of the National Honor Society. (Photo provided)

15 join National Honor Society at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, April 16, 2021 -- Fifteen students were inducted Thursday into the Watkins Glen High School Chapter of the National Honor Society in a ceremony at the school.

Joining the NHS were Abby Congdon, Kelsey DeMillo, Douglas DiGregorio, Molly Dunham, Andrew Hayes, Cameron Holland, Connor Karius, Isabella La Face, Nolan Ormsbee, Jordannmarie Simpson, Anya Simpson, Kimberly Smith-Brown, Luke Spahalski, Benjamin Swinnerton and Melanie Wysocki.

Veteran members explaining the Four Pillars of NHS included: Maria Brubaker on Scholarship, Kayla Palmer on Leadership, Briana Hayes on Service, and Aislinn Klemann on Character. Other members include Bryce Kelly (the chapter president) and Shannon Ervay. All six are seniors.

Photo in text: Candles are part of the National Honor Society induction ceremony. (Photo provided)

 

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Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

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