A decade-long partnership between the Fulton Sunrise Rotary Club and the Phoenix Central School District continued this year with the annual dictionary giveaway.
Rotarians visited with third-graders to discuss the service organization and teach students how to get the most out of the dictionaries they received.
Ellen Nowyj, Fulton Sunrise Rotary Club president, thumbed through the reference material as she identified resources such as maps, the periodic table and punctuation guides. She noted it was rewarding to be able to provide dictionaries to all 141 third-grade students.
“This is likely their first reference book that they own,” Nowyj said. “They can take it home and learn so many things.”
Coming off a championship season in 2016, the Phoenix Central School District’s marching band had high expectations going into this year, and their final performance at the Carrier Dome did not disappoint.
The Firebird contingent, under the director of Nick Gerling and assistant director Michelle Rudy, cruised to a state title in the Small Schools 2 Class to cap off a stellar fall season. The winning show, “Life on the Inside,” was a transformative piece that combined props and music to propel the Firebirds to the top of their division with a score of 86.4.
“It means that all of the time and effort going into what they’re doing has paid off,” Gerling said. “It’s time well spent.”
While the Phoenix marching band enjoyed its late-season success, Gerling noted that the season had some challenges along the way.
“They started off slow and steady and we really picked up speed during our third competition at West Genesee,” he said. “After that, they were improving five to six points every week. The students stayed driven and confident, but knew never to get comfortable and always stayed humble. While the staff worked to inspire the students during practices, the students ended up inspiring us throughout the entire season too. Together we were a great team.”
Gerling said watching the students experience so much success is a testament to their commitment.
“They’re an asset to the music program. They’re dedicated, responsible, hardworking leaders of the district,” Gerling said.
Emerson J. Dillon Middle School classrooms transformed into a job fair during a career exploration event Nov. 16.
Phoenix students in fifth through eighth grades had the opportunity to attend three separate career day sessions where they met with employees and experts from a variety of fields. Representatives from healthcare, law enforcement, arts, business, architecture, technology, engineering, automotive and other job sectors were available to provide first-hand insight and advice to the students as they prepare for the future.
“We have more than 40 people representing as many career fields as we can,” said EJD counselor Andrew Quirk. “For our fifth- and sixth-graders, this serves as the foundation of their exploratory search, and our seventh and eighth-graders can build on their already established skills and interests.”
The event enabled students to ask questions about specific jobs and learn more about the education and skills required of certain positions. The format of the event also allowed students to gain a thorough understanding of their desired career paths, whether it be a blue-collar or white-collar position.
“We think outside of the box and really try to bring in as many CiTi BOCES programs and local connections as we can,” Quirk said. “It’s great having current and former students come in and talk about their own experiences.”
Eighth-grade studio art students from the Phoenix Central School District took their studies out of the classroom and into a museum during a recent field trip.
The Emerson J. Middle School students visited the Everson Museum of Art, where they viewed special exhibits, toured the museum's permanent collection and learned about architecture and ceramics. Students viewed famous works from a variety of artists and noted the architectural design of the museum itself, created by artist I.M. Pei. Using their sketchbooks throughout the tour, they recorded details and chose their favorite work of art to formally critique in class using their knowledge of the elements and principles of design.
The tour and transportation were possible thanks to The Richard S. Shineman Foundation Bus Fund, which was established in 2015 to subsidize bus transportation for Oswego County schools to engage in these types of art museum experiences.
Twelve students from the Phoenix Central School District were recently inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, an international organization recognizing students for academic and musical achievement.
Criteria for membership includes being enrolled in a performing music ensemble and demonstrating service and character strength, as well as maintaining a minimum grade point average of 95 or higher in music and an overall average of 80.
The twelve students inducted this year were: Isabella Stacy (saxophone), Declan Hawthorne (voice), Garrett Strange (voice), Zaya Koegel (voice), Aidan Trumble (Trumpet), Natalie Brown (clarinet), Thomas Uhl (trumpet), Isabella Allen (voice), Gabriella Allen (clarinet), Lily Roberts (horn), Bryon Halstead (percussion) and Thomas Uhl (trumpet).
Phoenix Chapter Advisor Liza Grethel expressed great pride in the new inductees as well as all current members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Phoenix.
Six Phoenix Central School District student musicians recently demonstrated their talents during the annual Junior High Area All-State Music Festival.
Held in Cortland, students from 46 school districts statewide participated in either treble choir, mixed chorus, orchestra or concert band. The 93-member concert band was comprised, in part, of Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students Virginia Bednarski, Chloe Calkins, Lily Roberts, Alex Olschewski, Aidan Trumble and Sarah Andrews. They performed “Symphonic Overture” by Charles Carter; “Into The Raging River” by Steven Reineke; “Songs from the Heartland” by Russel Mikkelson, Lisa Galvin and Zachary Roberts; and “Musical Haiku #14 Never Forgotten” by Stephen Melillo.
“Phoenix is very proud to be the third largest district represented in this year’s band,” said EJD band teacher David Frateschi. “The Phoenix Central School Music Department is also very proud to be included in the National Association for Music Education’s top 100 schools in America for Music Education for the 2016-17 school year. Special thanks go out to the Phoenix administration team and the board of education for their continued support of our students here in Phoenix.”
John C. Birdlebough High School students and staff members honored the nation’s bravest men and women by offering a special tribute in recognition of Veterans Day.
Local military recruiters from various branches and members of the local VFW Post 5540 honor guard graced the stage, adjacent to the fallen soldier battle cross, as student Catherine Musumeci offered touching opening remarks.
“Today, we recognize and give thanks to those who have protected and continue to protect our way of life,” she said. “Thank you to all who have served and who continue to serve.”
As the guests of honor saluted the flag and attendees stood proudly, JCB student Hannah Grabowski sang the national anthem before a series of video clips about Veterans Day were played. The crowd fell silent as Sgt. Erica Loucks, of the New York Army National Guard, recited the Soldier’s Creed, in which U.S. Army soldiers vow to be guardians of freedom and the American way of life.
Several students shared patriotic poems and the crowd collectively sang “God Bless the USA” and “God Bless America” before JCB students Dixon Ameele and Olivia Ripley presented Taps in honor of the flag that was folded for Teaching Assistant Katherine Lathrop, for her father who served in the military
JCB Social Studies Teacher Carol Blackburn, who organized the assembly, said she tears up each time she sees her father’s military photograph, which was featured in slideshow presentation, along with several other photos of JCB staff members, their families and former students who are veterans.
VFW member Bob Halstead said it was remarkable to see multiple generations come together to support those who have served and offer small gestures of appreciation.
“There’s no greater thing that can happen to a G.I. than to come home and be thanked for their service,” he said. “If you see a veteran walking in the streets, thank him for his service.”
During a recent Veterans Day assembly, members of the VFW Post 5540 ready to fold the American flag, which was given to John C. Birdlebough High School Teaching Assistant Katherine Lathrop, in honor of her father who served in the military.
With a focus on helping others, the Phoenix Central School District recently switched from its Firebird orange to a rosy pink during a recent girls’ volleyball match.
In collaboration with the John C. Birdlebough High School Student Council, the volleyball team wore pink shirts and helped raise funds in the hopes of Spiking out Cancer. Student council members sold T-shirts, baked goods and novelty items, while also holding a 50/50 raffle and collecting donations throughout the evening.
“The student council would like to extend its sincerest gratitude to our school and community,” said student council adviser Lisa Spereno. “Thanks to everyone involved, we raised $842 for Golisano Children’s Hospital. Student Council will be providing an additional $158 to send a check totaling $1,000 to the hospital.”
Spereno noted that student council president Natalie Hart and council member Emily McDonald worked hard to make sure the event was successful. Additional volunteers included students Catherine Musumeci, Makayla Newvine, Taylor Mattice and Lauren Schmidt.
“Thanks also to coach Matt Fuller and coach Anna Turner, the volleyball team and parents for decorating the gym and providing baked goods, Nicole George for helping to sell pretty much everything, and John Jeffries and Thomas Bailer for their absolutely unwavering support,” Spereno said. “It was also fantastic to see so many middle and high school teachers who attended the game!”
With a focus on making positive choices, students in the Phoenix Central School District recently wrapped up Red Ribbon Week with a guest speaker whose inspirational message left a powerful impact.
Jeff Yalden, a nationally renowned speaker, met with students at the middle school and high school to share his uplifting message and encourage positive life choices. He told his story as someone who battles mental illness and has overcome many obstacles on his road to self-discovery. That road, Yalden said, was paved with self-esteem, ownership and perseverance.
“I am a man with a mental illness, but I’m not a victim,” Yalden said. “Don’t ever play that card. Every single day you’re responsible for your attitude and your choices.”
Yalden shared personal stories of his family and his experiences as a father, a coach and motivational speaker. He focused on his journey to achieve happiness.
“Life is not about perfection; it’s about progress,” Yalden said. “Happiness comes from you. Stop waiting to be validated by your parents, teachers or coaches. Whatever you do in life, it starts with you.”
Principal Thomas Bailer noted that Yalden’s no-nonsense, “tell it like it is” presentation seemed to resonate with the John C. Birdlebough High School students. He encouraged the students to absorb Yalden’s message.
“There’s always an opportunity to make a positive change,” Bailer said.
School spirit erupted in the Phoenix middle school recently as students, teachers and staff members embraced the Dillon Way.
Each year, students in fifth through eighth grades at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School participate in a variety of activities promoting teamwork, friendship, character education and school spirit. Principal Sue Anderson kicked off the 2017-2018 celebration by lighting the Firebird torch and welcoming the students to a day of team-building exercises and challenges.
Throughout the school year, grade-level teams that embody the Dillon Way will earn points that accumulate with each recognition of exemplary behavior. The team with the most points at the end of the year will be honored with a celebration in the spring.