Santa’s helpers prepare to hand out gifts to the hundreds of youngsters who waited in line to meet the jolly elf during a communitywide tree lighting event Dec. 7 at the Sweet Memorial Building. From left are Maria Musumeci, Conrad Karl, Tyler Gabriele, Fia Campanino and Jonathan Schmidt.
With the holiday season in full swing, members of the Leadership Program in the Phoenix Central School District are doing their part to make spirits bright.
The program, spearheaded by community member and volunteer service coordinator Cathy Lee, sponsors several initiatives throughout the year to aid local residents in need and help beautify the village. Activities include summer beautification efforts to spruce up the community, a ball for senior citizens, a trip to the mall with senior citizens, and a homeless night to raise money for the Rescue Mission.
With two decades under her belt as the leadership program’s volunteer service coordinator, Lee said that there is nothing more satisfying than watching students giving back to their community.
John C. Birdlebough students (from left) Shaun Turner, Tyler Gabriele and Zach Sasera ring the bell for the Salvation Army at the Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppe on Dec. 7. The volunteer bell ringers are all members of the school district’s Leadership Program.
“Seeing kids caring and sharing is rewarding,” she said. “Our formula is motivation and caring and sharing equals a leader, and I see that happen to all of the students who are in leadership group. Once they have that experience of caring or sharing, it causes them to be motivated to do more.”
During the holiday season, the leadership group is especially active as students ring the bell for the Salvation Army every day in November and December. They help out at the tree lighting ceremony and also collect winter hats, mittens and scarves for the homeless, and pack food boxes for 200 needy Phoenix residents.
“Pay it forward,” Lee said.
That sentiment is not lost on the recipients of the donated goods, nor is it lost on the student leadership group members.
“It’s fun to help out the community and make it a better place,” said John C. Birdlebough sophomore Tyler Gabriele while ringing the Salvation Army bell recently.
Monsters invaded Desiree Moore’s third-grade classroom Oct. 29 and spread south into the Cicero North Syracuse School District as part of a distance learning initiative between Oswego County BOCES and the Phoenix Central School District.
The program, Monster Match, pairs a local class with one outside of the county, and each class creates a monster using materials from a list provided. After constructing their monster, the class writes a description of it and sends the description to their partner class via email. Each class then re-creates the monster based only on the written description. The project culminates with a videoconference that connects the two classes.
Jason Phoenix, a student in Desiree Moore’s third-grade class at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School, stands in front of a camera to show students at Lakeshore Road Elementary School the monster he and his classmates created as part of the Monster Match initiative.
On Oct. 29, that is exactly what happened when students from Moore’s class at Michael A. Maroun Elementary connected with Darci Larose’s third-graders at Lakeshore Road Elementary School to compare their re-created monsters with the original monster.
“My students loved all the details and the creativity,” Moore told the Lakeshore Road students as they compared their creations and discussed similarities and differences with each.
Overall, the Gravity Destroyer was re-created by five groups of Moore’s students, and each had a striking resemblance to the original one that their partner school made.
While the students may have viewed the activity as a recreational one, Moore noted that it was a great learning tool.
“I think this really helps teach 21st-century skills,” she said. “The students
have to collaborate on their own monster. They have to communicate and create directions that are easy to follow and they have to follow other people’s directions. They learn about other communities. It also builds on the reading and writing and gives them an outlet to be creative.”
As the videoconference drew to a close, Moore’s students were asked what they thought of the program. “I want to do it every year,” student Mackenzie Chetney said.
Distinguished children’s book author Bruce Coville roamed his old stomping grounds Oct. 10, sharing his passion for writing with students in the Phoenix Central School District.
Coville, an author of more than 100 books geared toward children and young adults, grew up and attended school in Phoenix. He said his passion for writing was ignited during a class assignment when he was in sixth grade.
“From the time I was young, I had a dream of becoming a writer,” Coville said on his website. “Now that dream has come true, and I am able to make my living doing something that I really love.”
With more than 16 million books sold, Coville shared his story with Michael A. Maroun Elementary School students, hoping to inspire them to chase their dreams. Taking a marker to a giant notepad, Coville drew an oval with a horizontal line through it to indicate the subconscious portion and the “waking” part of the human brain. As first- and second-graders looked on, the author wrote the word “dream” in giant letters within the larger subconscious part, telling the students that dreaming is the foundation for a great storyteller.
“How many of you have dreams at night? If you’ve ever had a dream, only even once, you’re a storyteller,” Coville said.
The high-energy author engaged students during three assemblies, discussing his published work, the process it takes to craft a book and the importance of never giving up. Coville talked about the trials and tribulations of getting his work published for the first time, as he told students how his book “The Foolish Giant” was initially rejected.
“It hurts your feelings, but you can’t let that stop you,” Coville said. “It hurt our feelings, but we didn’t stop.”
Further illustrating his point, Coville cited the difficulties that popular children’s book author Dr. Seuss encountered when publishing “Mulberry Street.” That book was rejected 27 times before finally being accepted.
“Would you give up? Dr. Seuss didn’t,” Coville said.
His visit to Phoenix was months in the making, with plans first introduced during a Character Education Committee meeting last spring. The group, comprised of parent representatives of students in kindergarten through fourth grades, came up with the idea to bring Coville to the district.
“I found his email address, sent him an email inquiry, and before I knew it he contacted me,” said school counselor Nora Germain, a member of the committee.
The character education initiative has brought many worthwhile programs into the district, according to Principal Mary Stanton.
“We wanted to do something very special for our boys and girls at Maroun Elementary, and bringing Bruce Coville here is very special,” Stanton said.
The event capped off a literacy initiative that saw students throughout the district reading various Coville titles. Third-grade teacher Mary Delpha said her students have been reading an array of Coville’s books leading up to his visit.
“His books have been featured in several of the classrooms,” Delpha said, noting that the library has many of Coville’s titles available for students. “He really writes to all levels. His different series are great for our students; it helps jumpstart kids to independent reading.”
For second-grader Caitlin Dean, the author visit was not only entertaining, but a valuable learning experience as well. “He was funny, I felt good about him,” she said. “I liked the way he talked.”
Dean’s classmate Savannah Felix said the experience was unique because her grandparents had attended school with Coville and she had already heard so many stories about him. “It was really cool,” she said.
Middle school students at E.J. Dillon gave thought to their futures at the school’s annual Career Day.
Students were allowed to select their top five choices from a list of 40 careers. They received their schedules in homeroom; outlining three sessions of their choosing that spanned a half day.
A variety of professionals, from the entertainment world to the medical field, were asked to prepare a 40 minute classroom presentation. Several speakers were Phoenix alums, including Architect Phil Squadrito, Preschool Teacher Lisa Balles, Cosmetologist Korena Grover, F.B.I. Agent Michael DuBois and Firefighter Dan Dunn.
Pictured are E.J. Dillon middle school students during the fifteenth annual Career Day. Students in this session watched as Veterinarian Scarlett Springate gave her dog Alex a mock exam. The retriever mix roamed around the classroom accepting pets and scratches from his new friends.
Others are current Phoenix residents; Pastry Chef Ann Pellegrino, “DJ Bob” O’Connell, Nurse Teri Lawless and Nuclear Operations Specialist Robert Pellegrino.
An emphasis was placed on ways in which school prepares students to be successful in any career. Chef Pellegrino mentioned how knowing a foreign language is helpful in her line of work. Words like Tiramisu and Crème Brulee come from Italian and French. Science and math are also used in baking, from substituting an ingredient to doubling a recipe.
Chef Pellegrino explained how there are two and four year programs in culinary arts. In a competitive industry, those scooped up for jobs are often the ones with the most education and experience.
Lisa Myers from the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse encouraged students to work in a field their passionate about. Students in the session shared their dreams of becoming stunt and voice actors.
Myers told students that if their interested in a theatrical career, they can begin building their special skills now. In the world of performance arts that can mean anything from knowing how to ice-skate and do a cartwheel to taking voice lessons.
Veterinarian Scarlett Springate of Highland Animal Hospital stressed the importance of education and getting good grades. To become a veterinarian, she had to obtain a Bachelor’s degree before going on to vet school for another four years.
Veterinarians need to have strong communication skills, despite working with patients that can’t verbalize their symptoms. Springate often has to relay information to an animal’s owner.
Special Agent Michael DuBois is no stranger to the Phoenix Central School District. DuBois graduated in 1983, and hadn’t been back until this Career Day visit.
DuBois, who now manages F.B.I. agents, started his career as a social studies teacher, and since then has held a job as a police officer and detective. One of the most important documents that he refers to daily is the constitution, a historical document he learned of as a student.
Patrick McDougall, a Sound Recording Engineer, emphasized in his presentation the connection between skills learned in school, and those needed to be successful in the workplace. He urged students interested in becoming sound engineers to take music theory and technology courses in high school. Understanding the physics of audio is also important.
Welcome to Our new SRO
The Phoenix Central School District welcomed officer Ellie Brown as its new school resource officer on Oct. 1.
The added SRO position was part of the recommended 2013-14 school year budget. Brown is a Phoenix Police Department employee who will be stationed at the high school. She will be available to all schools on an as-needed basis.
Officer Brown retired from the Oswego County Sheriffs’ Department in July 2011.During her 20 year career with the Oswego Sheriffs’ Department, Officer Brown served as a criminal investigator and a road patrol deputy. Officer Brown has an AAS in Criminal Justice from OCC and a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Alaska.
School Resource Officer
The objectives of the School Resource Officer program are to:
-- Provide a police presence in the School District in order to promote and provide an atmosphere of enhanced school safety for faculty, staff, students and school visitors;
-- Provide a law enforcement resource to students, teachers, school administrators and parents, so as to:
-- Increase student awareness about crime prevention, Internet safety, conflict resolution, violence prevention, restorative justice and peer mediation;
-- Increase school faculty and staff awareness about policies and procedures for preventing/responding to incidents of violence and other threats to school safety;
-- Facilitate crime prevention, law enforcement, and security consultation;
-- Build lines of communication and promote positive attitudes between students and the Village of Phoenix Police Department;
-- Provide a confidential counseling resource to students who may be experiencing a variety of school, family, or social problems;
-- Pro-actively address problems and pressures as they relate to students before such problems manifest into socially and legally unacceptable behavior. These problems may involve the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. They may also involve peer pressure, gang activity, and sexual activity;
-- Provide a positive role model to the students; and
-- Provide education in law enforcement, as requested and appropriate.
Please take the opportunity to welcome Officer Brown to our schools!
The 12th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks is being marked around Syracuse and Central New York with moments of silence.
In Syracuse, honor guards from city police and fire departments observed 17 minutes of silence at the City’s annual September 11th Commemoration Ceremony from 8:46 to 9:03 a.m. at the Forman Park Police Memorial.
Mayor Stephanie Miner says there were no speeches or announcements, which has been the tradition with the public ceremony. During the ceremony, two 5-foot pedestals were be erected to represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The pedestals each have a flagstone top on with 3-wick candles, which were lit to commemorate the lives and the families of loved ones lost on September 11, 2001.
The 17 minutes of silence represents the length of time between the first passenger jet striking the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. and the second passenger jet striking the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m.
At Syracuse’s Most Holy Rosary School on Bellevue Avenue, students sang "God Bless America" and offer readings at 9:11 a.m.
A memorial Mass was held at Syracuse’s Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School at 8:20 a.m.
In DeWitt, a wreath laying ceremony to honor the lives of those lost in the attacks. It will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the DeWitt Town Hall Front Lawn at 5400 Butternut Drive. Manlius Police Captain Kevin Schafer will present the wreath.
At Syracuse University, a meditation will be held in a small chapel at Hendricks Chapel.
The Marine Honor Guard will host a short ceremony and presentation of the flag at the 2013 Parade of Homes in the Town of Lafayette at Jamesville Grove Estates at 5:15 p.m.
In Phoenix, the Phoenix Fire Department raised a flag in front of Emerson J. Dillon Middle School and students dressed in red, white and blue, according to Kara Maher, a teacher at the school.