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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.

Phoenix Senior English Students Present ‘Johnny Got His Gun’

Seniors in Lisa Spereno’s English classes at John C. Birdlebough High School recently brought books and characters to life through a variety of group projects.

As part of a war in literature unit, students read “Fallen Angels,” “Fearless,” “Unbroken” and “Johnny Got His Gun,” each focusing on different eras and battles throughout history. After reading their selected title, students worked in groups to showcase what they learned.

“The students really did a great job on their presentations,” Spereno said. “The group that did ‘Johnny Got His Gun,’ thought outside the box and acted out scenes, which was awesome.”

For senior Matt Vestigo, re-enacting scenes from the book was a unique but powerful project.

“We probably spent about 10 hours creating the scenes, rehearsing and brainstorming ideas,” he said, noting that the presentation helped reinforce what he read in the book. “The beginning was hard to follow and a bit confusing at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book.”

‘The Curious Savage’ a Hit at JCB

John C. Birdlebough student actors recently showcased their talents with a fall production of “The Curious Savage.”

The cast of 11 helped tell the story of Mrs. Savage, who inherits $10 million when her husband dies. The story follows the path of Mrs. Savage and her stepchildren as they battle over how the money should be spent.

“The characters are fabulous and there’s depth upon depth and layer upon layer in this story,” said director Brian Logee. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful story.”

Audience members were captivated as the student actors transformed into the complex characters and told the story of “The Curious Savage.”

Although the dominant mood of the play was comedy, Logee noted that the end result went beyond laughter. The audience left with a feeling that there is hope in humanity and kindness is not lost, he said.

John C. Birdlebough students inducted into music honor society

A dozen student musicians from the Phoenix Central School District recently joined elite company as they were inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

The national organization, dubbed Tri-M for “modern music masters,” recognizes students who excel in music class while also demonstrating character and leadership abilities. Members participate in various service projects, such as the Toys for Tots campaign, throughout the year as well.

According to Phoenix Tri-M chapter adviser Liza Grethel, the inductees are much more than talented musicians. “I’m very happy to welcome so many talented, positive, uplifting students to Tri-M,” she said. “They carry on the (PCSD’s) proud music tradition, they volunteer in the community and they do well in the classroom.”

Grethel and current Tri-M members congratulated the inductees as they took the pledge into the honor society. The inductees include Violet Ameele, Garrett Frink, Alyssa Goudy, Hailey Goudy, Hannah Grabowski, Zoe Heckert, Kaitlyn McArthur, Skyler Patnode, Emily Roberts, Sarah Thorn, Joshua VanGorder and Julie Yates.

“You are now in the unique position of being able to pass on the ‘torch of musical knowledge’ to colleagues and future beneficiaries of musical arts,” Grethel said. “May you represent Tri-M with pride and dignity as you continue to demonstrate the value of music in your life and share your gift with your school and community. Welcome to the Tri-M family.”

Phoenix Third-Graders Explore Chinese Culture, Diversity

Chinese culture was in the air as Phoenix third-graders recently learned about customs, diversity and selflessness during an arts-in-education performance.

Actors from Merry-Go-Round Playhouse were on hand to help students gain a better understanding of language, history and the arts through a performance of “The Magic Paintbrush.” Through the play, students learned about plot points and story themes while expanding their vocabulary and delving into Chinese culture.

“This play gives students the theater experience and is a nice way to incorporate the arts in education,” said actor Jason Coppenbarger.  “It ties into the curriculum, gives them a taste of a different culture and shows them the importance of selflessness and bravery.”

Students were captivated as they watched the folktale unfold in the cafeteria, which was transformed into a small Chinese fishing village for the performance. They followed the tale of artist Xiao Yu, whose magical paintbrush makes her work come to life. Although she uses her power to help her poverty-stricken community, Yu faces a moral dilemma when she is captured by the evil emperor and forced to choose between good and evil.

EJD Students Explore Job Opportunities at Career Day

Emerson J. Dillon Middle School was buzzing with activity as students recently explored nearly three dozen job opportunities.

Career Day, organized by the guidance department, introduced students to employers and workers representing a variety of job sectors. Area business owners were on hand to discuss all aspects of their jobs, ranging from education to daily responsibilities.

“This gives the students a better understanding of the world around them and what they can do after graduation,” said counselor Katherine Barber.

Fifth- through eighth-graders completed a career profile and attended three sessions that best matched their interests. The sessions included health, law enforcement, the armed services, education, culinary, arts and entertainment, nuclear engineering, firefighting, veterinary science and more.

“By having so many different businesses and organizations available, students can really learn about the things they are interested in doing for a career,” Barber said. “They’re able to make those connections. It’s a great event and it gives the students some perspective – where they can see themselves in the future.”

EJD Middle School holds mock election

Several hours before the polls closed on Election Day, students at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School had already selected Donald Trump as their choice for President of the United States of America.

The school’s library media center was recently transformed into a voting center, complete with a sign-in desk and voting privacy screens made by art students. At each voting station, students used a tablet to scan a QR code which brought up a Google Docs “ballot” with the names of Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. Students in grades five through eight cast their digital ballot, with 423 votes for Trump, 100 votes for Clinton, 15 votes for Stein and no votes for Johnson. For their efforts, the students received an “I Voted” sticker.

Although the middle-schoolers are several years younger than the legal voting age of 18, Social Studies Teacher John Dalgety said their participation in the mock election showed their enthusiasm for learning about the electoral process. Teachers also spoke with students about how social media has affected the national election.


EJD Middle School Sixth-Grader Madison Coutchure votes in her
school’s recent mock election.

JCB students honor veterans

Students in Carol Blackburn’s participation in government class at John C. Birdlebough High School gather for a group photo following a Veterans Day assembly. The students are joined by National Guard Staff Sgt. John Poyneer, Sgt. Erica Loucks and JCB Assistant Principal Patrick Fitch.

Patriotism and gratitude were on display at John C. Birdlebough High School as students honored members of the armed forces – past and present – during a recent Veterans Day assembly.

Upperclassmen in Carol Blackburn’s participation in government class hosted the program in the auditorium. American flags, a wreath and a modified battlefield cross were arranged on stage while students read poems, performed patriotic songs and honored local veterans in a video slideshow tribute.

“We feel strongly about recognizing our veterans,” Blackburn said. “Every year we host a ceremony and we’ve added to it over the years.”

This year’s assembly also featured two members of the New York National Guard. Sgt. Erica Loucks recited the Soldier’s Creed and Staff Sgt. John Poyneer discussed his appreciation for our servicemen and women as part of the ceremony.

Speaker brings inspirational message to JCB students

Students at John C. Birdlebough High School recently capped off Red Ribbon Week with nationally recognized speaker David Flood.

Flood infused humor and honesty into his motivational presentation. He touched on a variety of issues such as drug and alcohol addiction, parenthood, respect and compassion.

“We are all alike on the inside,” Flood said as he encouraged students to embrace their individuality. “Stop looking at people on the outside and starting looking on the inside.”

As part of his presentation, he encouraged students to be accepting of people who are perceived as being different. Flood challenged the group to ensure that no student ever eats alone at school.

The students accepted the challenge and pledged to carry on that theme throughout the school year.

Thirty JCB Students Inducted into National Honor Society

Thirty John C. Birdlebough High School students were recognized for their scholarship, leadership, character and service as they were recently inducted into the National Honor Society.

Family, friends, teachers and Phoenix Central School District administrators filled the school auditorium to congratulate the students during a ceremony Nov. 1. NHS adviser Angie Neiss applauded the students for their accomplishments and said she is looking forward to working with the inductees in the future.

Assistant Principal Patrick Fitch echoed Neiss’ sentiments as the students prepared to take the NHS pledge. “This represents an extremely prestigious and honorable level of achievement,” Fitch said. “You have demonstrated the qualities of scholarship, leadership, service and character.”

After reciting the pledge, current NHS members introduced the inductees and welcomed them into the organization. Superintendent Christopher Byrne made the induction official as he presented the students with a pin signifying their membership into the NHS.

The newest members of the Phoenix chapter of the NHS join 50 existing members. This year’s inductees were Gabriella Allen, Keara Backus, Maggie Lee Basile, Marcus Berube, Erika Brown, Ashley Carbonaro, Gianna DeRoberts, Cahel Donovan, Matthew Francis, Hannah Gilbert, Declan Hawthorne, Nicole Henry, Megan Hess, Emilie Hilliard, Wendy Li, Ashley Margrey, Taylor Mattice, Jacob Murphy, Makayla Newvine, Olivia Ripley, Kristine Rowe, Hannah Sallis, Mairin Sgroi, Mariah Scheirer, Crystal Stobart, Olivia Thrall, Josh Van Gorder, Garrett Watkins, Sydney Young and Edward Zellar.

Videoconference Brings Fossils, Dinosaurs to Phoenix Kindergartners

Phoenix kindergartners recently explored the world of paleontology during a virtual field trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

In collaboration with the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation, students in Mary Paye’s kindergarten class were connected to the museum through the Dino Dig videoconference. The interactive program featured a dinosaur expert who, through hands-on activities, demonstrated the fossilization process. Students learned about the job responsibilities of paleontologists, how fossils are made, and created their own fossils to keep and take home.

The lesson infused scientific discovery through the use of technology, which is one of Paye’s ongoing strategies to help reinforce each class discussion.

“(I strive to) enhance our classroom’s blended instruction, prepare students for continued use of technology in their classrooms and maintain student engagement and enthusiasm,” Paye said.

That strategy played out as students asked questions and were enthralled with the lesson throughout the videoconference.