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.
Phoenix Central School District teachers opened their classroom doors and welcomed families and students during recent open houses.
Emerson J. Dillon Middle School kicked off the open house events Sept. 13 as teachers and faculty members met with families and answered questions. Students showcased their work and gave their parents a tour of the building as well.
Following a successful open house at EJD, pre-K through fourth-grade students had a chance to show off their class projects at Michael A. Maroun Elementary on Sept. 20.
Hundreds of students and their parents and siblings gathered at the elementary school for the event. The hallways featured artwork, poetry, mathematics problems and other student projects. As students eagerly displayed their work, teachers noted they were looking forward to seeing the students’ progress throughout the year.
At the high school, open house was held Oct. 5, and students took their parents from classroom to classroom following their daily bell schedule. Guidance counselors, building administrators and teachers were on hand to answer questions and provide information regarding the extracurricular activities available to students.
The Phoenix Central School District recently named Michael Aiken its new director of facilities.
Aiken has been serving school districts for 16 years in different capacities. This year, he will work closely with a variety of stakeholders to ensure the capital project moves along efficiently and on schedule.
“I’ll work with our architects, engineers and construction management teams in the planning of our current capital project,” Aiken said. “Throughout the process, I want to make sure we’re maintaining our buildings and grounds at their highest levels.”
Aiken noted that his goals also include supporting the vision, mission and core values of the district. He said he is seeking to support employees through staff development and would like to implement new programs to further the district’s mission.
For Aiken, he said he has been impressed by the teamwork and the overall atmosphere of the district staff. “The people; they are so supportive and eager to help out,” Aiken said.
With more than a decade of experience as a coach and physical education teacher, John Jeffries is leading the Phoenix Central School District’s athletic program as its new director of health, physical education and athletics.
Jeffries is no stranger to Oswego County interscholastic sports. He was previously employed as a physical education teacher and multisport coach in Central Square, where he also served as the athletics intern. He noted that his experience and familiarity with the local interscholastic sports scene will be beneficial to the PCSD community – a community that has welcomed him with open arms.
“What I like most so far are the people at Phoenix,” Jeffries said. “From other administrators to coaches, teachers, clerical, and operations and maintenance people. Everything they do is about the kids and providing the kids with the best experience possible. It is a top-notch school district.”
Jeffries said he shares the district’s vision and aims to foster positive relationships with all stakeholders. In addition to becoming acclimated with the PCSD community, Jeffries has several goals he would like to accomplish during his first year.
“I want to celebrate accomplishments in athletics, physical education and health, get more participation in athletics and help increase school spirit and a positive atmosphere,” Jeffries said.
After nearly 15 years as a social studies teacher for the Phoenix Central School District, longtime teacher Helen Abbott is getting acclimated to a different role this year.
Abbott began a position as the academic dean at John C. Birdlebough High School for the 2017-2018 year. Her familiarity with the students and faculty, combined with her passion for the greater Phoenix area, has made the transition a seamless one, Abbott said.
“I like working with the students and staff,” she said. “Phoenix is an amazing community, and I love being part of this community.”
Abbott noted that there have been changes to the Response to Intervention and Information and Communication Technologies initiatives provided at the high school. These changes, she said, will require additional support from a variety of personnel, but that is a challenge she is ready to tackle.
“I am looking forward to working with and supporting students and teachers in these areas,” Abbott said.
Following an administrative internship that was completed last April, Jessica Ariola dove right in to her duties as assistant principal at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School. She said she is approaching the 2017-2018 school year with the same excitement and enthusiasm.
“It’s been welcoming and so rewarding to work with the great staff in this school district,” Ariola said. “It is also wonderful to see all of the opportunities and supports students have for their education.”
During Ariola’s 10 years in education she has served as assistant principal intern in the Hannibal Central School District and as a teacher, department coordinator and blended learning leader at Mexico Academy and Central Schools. She said those experiences have been invaluable in her career.
As for the 2017-2018 school year, Ariola said she hopes to continue to build relationships with the greater school community. “I want to support and collaborate with staff, students and the community to see continued growth and student achievement,” she said.