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Phoenix, NY 13135
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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.


Enterprise America offers PCSD students unique learning opportunity

Eighth-graders from the Phoenix Central School District are gaining valuable real-world knowledge through a unique learning venture with Enterprise America.

The educational experience involves classroom instruction and hands-on learning, which culminates in a day “operating” their Enterprise America city. Students in the family and consumer science class recently had a chance to demonstrate their knowledge during a visit to Enterprise America at WCNY in Syracuse.

They became business entrepreneurs and employees, consumers and citizens as part of the culminating activity. To function in these different roles, the students used financial literacy skills, enacted laws, elected city officials and decided on employee medical insurance plans.

“The students worked very hard in preparation of the trip and their hard work paid off,” said EJD teacher Kara Barton. “The family and consumer science students made me proud!”


Phoenix musicians perform in annual Tuba Christmas concert

Staff and student musicians in the Phoenix Central School District participated in the 18th annual Tuba Christmas on Dec. 17.

The holiday-inspired event featured more than 80 tuba players, ages 7-70, who performed in concert to usher in the Christmas season. Under the direction of Michael Coldren, this year's concert was held at Liverpool High School and included musicians from all over central New York.

The Phoenix contingent included Emerson J. Dillon music teacher David Frateschi and eighth-grade band students Aiden Southworth, Chloe Calkins and Aiden Trumble.


Phoenix students hear message of HOPE

A diverse group of addiction specialists recently brought a message of HOPE (Heroin Opioid Prevention Education) to students in the Phoenix Central School District.

In an effort to educate students about the heroin epidemic sweeping the nation, law enforcement personnel and medical experts delivered presentations to middle school and high school students. The students learned about addiction, the effects that drugs have on the brain, treatment options and the real-life consequences of opioid abuse.

For John C. Birdlebough High School alumna Savannah Jaquay, those consequences are all too familiar. Jaquay shared the story of her best friend and fellow Phoenix graduate Tom Pokalsky, who died of a heroin overdose.

“Tom was one of the many faces of addiction, but it was not his identity,” Jaquay said. “He was charismatic and kind; but heroin knows no prejudice.”

Jaquay noted that she never thought she would encounter the loss of a friend due to drugs. However, that is a reality that she faces every day, and a feeling that she hopes no other family has to experience. By educating youth in the community, Jaquay and her HOPE colleagues aim to bring about awareness and change.

“The heroin epidemic will not win,” said Paul Riker, the clinical director of outpatient services at a behavioral health center. “It has not defeated us and it will not defeat us.”


Gold, Silver Star Winners Earn Recognition at Dillon Middle School

Academic excellence was in the spotlight at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School during the first quarter, as hundreds of students earned exceptional grade-point averages.

Those who achieved an overall average of 90 or better, with no failing or incomplete grades, earned a Gold Star certificate and an ice cream social. Similar recognition was given to the Silver Star winners, who posted an average between 80 and 89.99. Below are the winners by grade level.

Grade 5 Gold Stars

Peyton Aller, Lyla Barrow, Avery Bowman, Myah Burnham, Noah Bushnoe, Marissa Cacciola, Madalyn Carter, Owen Champion, Zoey Coleman, Ty Corey, Landon Crandall, Amelie Creighton, Gabriella Dates, Caitlin Dean, Sophie Delahunt, Anthony DeMarchi, Rylee Denslow, Marra DiGiovanni, Erika Dygert, Hunter Eldred, Gianna Ende, Mackenzie Fatcheric, Savannah Felix, Leland Frantz, Matthew Froio, Nathan Gaylord, Harleigh Greenleaf, Collin Gulliver, Haley Hammond, Sabrina Haynes, Donald Hook, Lincoln Kersey, Brandon Kimball, Cameron Kreis, Ava Kuropatwinski, Kaylen Lamphere, Beth Landers, Emily LaPine, Brycen LaRobardiere, Jason LaRonde, Zachary Lindsley, Lillian MacDonald, Lia McBurnie, Chase McElyea, Cayden McKay, Mariyah Metot, Jordyn Meyers, Claire Minney, Austin Moore, Alyssa Murphy, Caedance Myer, Degan Parker, Macray Pelton, Ellie Peterson, Alexis Phoenix, Gaige Pitre, Margo Pritting, Charles Quaco, Nathaniel Quaco, Jayden Rawson, Mason Renfrew, Ethan Reynolds, Nicholas Root, Sara Ruetsch, Arlin Russo, Lucas Stellingwerf, Alaina Sutter, Landen Thatcher, Chloe Thomas, Lukas Wooding and Luke Zellar.

Grade 5 Silver Stars

Emma Bova, Savannah Brown, Shane Byrne, Dakoda Capozzi, Charles Crandall, Tyler D’Arcy, Emma Dailey, Dakota Delaney, Jaylynn Dwyer, Abrielle Fayette, Mason Gollaher, Joshua Gullen Jr., Cody Hager, Parker Hall, Isabelle Hillman, Jason Jones, Koby Kitts, Sadiemae Maher, Hannah Morrison, Alissa Newman, Gerald Nolan III, Hunter Potts, Ryanna Rose, Logan Smallman, Nathan Worden and Miranda Young.

Grade 6 Gold Stars

Chase Bacon, Isaiah Bergman, Allenmichael Borasky, Elisabeth Caltabiano, Liam Campanino, Courtney Carter, Hayley Dygert, Michael Farrar, Madison Fatcheric, Evan Fox, Lindsey Goudy, Mia Graham, Kenidee Grover, Blake Hoyt, Mattie Hunt, Evan Isabell, Olivia Isabella, Alan Jacques, Conor Jones, Chase Kenner-Carbonaro, Morgan Lynch, Brooke McCann, Peyton Nichols, Tateum Patnode, Cody Perry, Logan Petrie, Lillianne Quinn, Hannah Reilley, Sheriden Southworth and Alexander Whaley.

Grade 6 Silver Stars

Joseph Abt, Grayson Brady, Solomon Campbell, Isaac Chesbro, Mackenzie Chetney, Christopher Clarke II, Meghan Clothier, Reghan Conley, Alexis Crandall, Blake Duncan, Emily Dunn-Hulett, Mark Eusepi Jr., Zoe Gordon, Mallory Hess, Merlin Lough, John McDonald, Jenna Moore, Edward Pitcher, Celia Tangorra, Ryan Thompson and Austin Wilder.

Grade 7 Gold Stars

Sarah Andrews, Landon Armstrong, Sarah Ashby, Stephen Beal, Virginia Bednarski, Mathew Bernard, Adrianna Breckheimer, Conner Calkins, Brendan Champion, Thomas Checksfield, Chloe Coughlin, Mary Crandall, Johnathan Dion, Mariah Gilligan, Isaiah Gordon, James Hagg II, Jonah Hawthorne, Jalyn Henry, Bethany Hook, Alexandra Hopps, Alaina Hubbell, Autumn Kelly, Lee Ketaily, Karson Kimball, Grace Landis, Maggie LaPine, Larissa MacDonald, Hannah McArthur, McKenna Neiss, Jacob Neupert, Katelyn Pyzdrowski, Kelsey Redhead, Ariana Richway, Kylie Russo, Taylor Smith, Chastity Thomas and Austin Wagar.

Grade 7 Silver Stars

Noah Bartholomew, Masson Bell, Alissa Bova, Ian Burgett, Kaitlyn Chesbro, Breannah Demo, Matthew Files, Charity Frantz, Brian Gibbs, Joseph Green, Maurice Handy, Nicholas Hanson, Jeffrey Horner, Tye Hughes, Zackary Hunter, Daren Jackson, Jayde Jacobson, Willyam Jolly, Nevaeh Lando, Dominick Mason, Grace McDonald, Cody McFall, Madeline Mills, Erick Moreira, Max Morgan, Brady Munger, Weston Murphy, Carson Newvine, Gabriella Payne, Carter Pinkley, Jarvis Piscitelli, Curtis Pitcher, Hanadi Sardo, Nicholas Sisera, Jacob Smallman, Olivia Snyder, Brooke-Lynne Springer, Daniel Stellingwerf, Sean Stevens, Gaven Sutter, Ella Tangorra and John Wallace.

Grade 8 Gold Stars

Isabella Allen, Shay Altman, Nicholas Bartlett, Natalie Brown, Sara Brunell, Chloe Calkins, Hannah Charleston, Emma Clark, Tabitha Clark, Sophia Crandall, Brielle DeRoberts, Alicia Durst, Hailey Fredericks, Francesca Goodell, Noah Gordon, Cierra Harvey, Mattison Hess, Nathan Kosakowski, Alivia Lamphere, Miranda LaRobardiere, Jock Li, Tori-Lenn Loosen, Megan Lytle, Owen Lytle, Zack Mills, Imari Piscitelli, Andrew Quinn, Tyler Redhead, Keaton Renfrew, Connor Roberts, Lily Roberts,  Mackenzie Shank, Aiden Southworth, Nathaniel Sutter, Liam Sweeney, Benjamin Thibault, Corinne Thibault, Zoie Tracy, Melody Trask, Sophia Trinca, Aidan Trumble, Thomas Uhl, Michael VanAuken Jr., Ashlyn Wallace and Mason Watkins.

Grade 8 Silver Stars

Chase Altman, Ashleigh Besaw, Haley Bowersox, Kelsie Burgess, Jonathan Campbell, Kaelyn Cartwright, Alexander Coons, Hailie Dailey, Alexis Dryer, Ethan Fox, Zachary Green, Katherine Holbrook, Braden Jolly, Amanda Justian, Lillyan Kingsbury, Patricia Lamach, Jacob LaRocque, Brianna Lenway, Danielle Loy, Jillian Loy, Robert Minard, Joseph Palmer, Roemello Rondinello, Brett Sears, William Semanchuk-Enser, Garrett Strang, Caitlyn Sutkus and Jada Wyatt.


Guest artist showcases painting skills, perseverance in Phoenix schools

Phoenix students are learning much more than drawing and painting in Kathy Lambert’s classroom, as guest artist Dennis Pullen recently provided them with a lesson in perseverance.

Pullen, a quadriplegic painter who has received numerous awards for his work, met with Michael A. Maroun Elementary students to share his story about how he turned tragedy to triumph. Despite an accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down, Pullen refused to give up doing the things that make him happy. He holds a job, works to improve lives for people with disabilities and is a talented artist.

“We’re more alike than we are different,” he said to a class of fourth-graders. “Sure, we have some differences – I’m in a wheelchair – but there are a lot more ways we are alike. We all like to go on vacations, watch movies, go on rides, hang out with friends, play on the computer … lots of things.”


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.”