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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.

National Junior Honor Society members donate to Ronald McDonald House

Emerson J. Dillon Middle School student representatives of the National Junior Honor Society pose for a group photo outside the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse. The students raised money and provided meals to Ronald McDonald House guests. Pictured are Shay Altman, Francesca Goodell, Lilly Roberts, Allison Mainville, Noah Gordon, Thomas Uhl, Jock Li, Andrew Quinn, Liam Sweeney and Ciera Harvey.

With a desire to help others, Phoenix National Junior Honor Society members recently hosted a fundraiser benefiting the Ronald McDonald house of Syracuse.

Students held a “lap-a-thon,” along the indoor track and solicited sponsors for each completed lap during a 30-minute time period. Fifth-grader Jason LaRonde was the top earner and raised $240 for the nonprofit organization, which serves families who travel from across the region to get medical care for their loved ones at area hospitals.

According to NJHS adviser Jennifer Mainville, members of the organization organized every facet of the fundraiser. They made phone calls seeking donations, organized participants, printed fliers and worked as a team to accomplish their goal. Ultimately, the students raised enough money to buy dinner from Fajita Grill for 40 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. They also presented the organization a check for $300.

StoryFaces provides Phoenix students with unique art lesson

1.	Artist and storyteller Christopher Agostino poses for a group photo with Emerson J. Dillon Middle School eighth-graders whose faces were transformed into characters during a recent “StoryFaces” performance.

History, culture and art were weaved into several stories that captivated an audience of Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students during a recent presentation.

Artist and storyteller Christopher Agostino met with sixth and eighth-graders to infuse arts in education with his “StoryFaces” show. Agostino told a variety of stories while simultaneously transforming the faces of student volunteers into the characters. His stories ranged from traditional folktales to original works.

“I hope these performances inspire the students,” Agostino said. “I want them to get a sense of what’s possible in the arts. It’s also a way to get them to think about other cultures and other people. It shows the unity of human culture.”

The students learned about modern art and African art as Agostino created asymmetrical designs and pattern to transform the students’ faces. His work used inspiration from Picasso and cubism to create the StoryFaces characters.

“Art functions for all cultures the same way,” Agostino said. “It’s meant to make you think … not only about yourself, but the world around you too.”

Concert features Phoenix students’ jazz talents

The Phoenix Central School District music department recently presented an evening of entertainment featuring the middle school and high school jazz bands.

In separate performances, each band played six songs ranging from jazz classics to today’s hits. The Emerson J. Dillon jazz students opened the evening with “The Star Spangled Banner,” followed by blues tunes and other numbers.

“These students have worked so hard in such a short amount of time,” said EJD jazz band director Dave Frateschi. “I’m so proud of what they have been able to accomplish.”

Under the director of Liza Grethel, the high school jazz band kept the music going with an array of songs such as “The Last Lap,” “Feeling Good” and “Make me Smile.” John C. Birdlebough High School student Sean Sievers was a featured soloist while Zachary Thompson showcased his vocal talents.

In each of the past seven years, the Phoenix Central School District’s music program has been named one of the Best Communities for Music Education. The recognition, awarded by the National Association of Music Merchants, honors districts that have demonstrated a commitment and access to music education.

‘Parents in PE’ a success at MAM

Parents and grandparents in the Phoenix Central School District recently joined elementary students in physical education (PE) classes.

The annual “Parents in PE” program began several years ago at the suggestion of Alice Benjamin, a PE teacher at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School. Since then, hundreds of parents have participated and learned a variety of exercises to use at home.

“I try to change the activities and make sure they can do some of these things together at home,” Benjamin said.

This year, participants climbed the rock wall (funded through Box Tops for Education) and worked their way through agility courses, team activities and cardiovascular exercises.

“It’s awesome to see the kids and their parents/grandparents exercising together and having fun,” Benjamin said. “This is something that they look forward to every year.”

Hundreds of athletes participate in Oswego County Olympiad Invitational

Phoenix students parade around the JCB track prior to the Oswego County Olympiad Invitational
The John C. Birdlebough track and field area was bustling with excitement May 11 as dozens of volunteers and hundreds of spectators cheered on athletes in the 2017 Oswego County Olympiad Invitational.

More than 450 student-athletes -- representing all nine component school districts in the county, as well as the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation -- participated in the third annual Olympiad. Participants wore school colors and displayed school spirit while parading around the track to begin the day.

“This is such an awesome day,” said Angie Neiss, a teacher at JCB who helps coordinate the Olympiad. “Everywhere you look, all you see is smiling faces. There’s nothing better than that!”

Fulton native Tim Conners, a cancer survivor who lost his sight while battling T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, served as emcee for the event. He encouraged participants to strive for the seemingly impossible and to overcome adversity one day at a time.

“It’s impossible until you do it,” Conners said as the Olympiad got underway.

Inspired by Conners’ words, student-athletes took to the track for their respective events. In addition to distance races, participants tried events such as shot put, softball throw, long jump and other activities.

“So many people helped make the Olympiad a success,” Neiss said. “Our student-athletes, volunteers, spectators and donors made this possible. What a great event!”

STOP DWI program comes to JCB

Juniors and seniors in the Phoenix Central School District received a sobering lesson during a recent mock DWI presentation.

Every-other year, in the weeks leading up to prom and before summer break, the district teams with the Oswego County STOP DWI program to teach high school students about the dangers of drunken and distracted driving. This year, students learned about the legal and personal ramifications of impaired driving.

“Twenty-eight people a day die from impaired drivers,” said Bob Lighthall, the Oswego County STOP DWI coordinator. “If you go out and decide to drink, make sure you have a plan. We don’t want to have any empty chairs on graduation day.”

In addition to staging a fatal DWI crash, local first-responders were on scene to provide a realistic portrayal of the death notification, the court process, and the lasting impact on all family members and friends.

“The decisions you make have lifelong consequences,” said Oswego County District Attorney and coroner Greg Oakes. “Impaired driving related deaths are foreseeable and avoidable. Have a plan to get home safely.”

Following the presentation, students had an opportunity to ask questions and were provided with additional resources related to impaired and distracted driving.

Phoenix High School Students Showcase Climate Change Research

Climate change was in focus during the annual Earth Science Honors Research Symposium held May 4 at John C. Birdlebough High School.

Susan Sharp’s sophomore honors students presented in-depth research projects to an audience of family and friends. The presentations detailed a variety of issues related to global warming and explored ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

“Carbon dioxide and other gases that warm the air are increasing faster today than any other period,” students explained.

Each student discussed the impact of climate change and concluded their research with an oral presentation. Sophomores Grace Arnold, Hailey Goudy, Tina Li, Sarah Thorn, Theresa Uhl and Grace Vestigo earned medals for their research, while the Principal’s Choice Award went to Savannah Neupert for her overall presentation titled, “How Does Climate Change Influence Natural Disasters?”

“As I watched each presentation, I was very proud of them,” Sharp said. “They’re working at the college level and they have really accomplished a tremendous amount.”

Phoenix students solve history mystery during Erie Canal videoconference

Students from Cheri Iannotti’s class joined their peers from two Rochester schools to solve a mock crime that took place on the Erie Canal. The three classes interacted with Erie Canal experts to learn about the canal and they worked together to interrogate four suspects to determine who stole a missing ring.

Each answer offered students a wealth of information about the Erie Canal and provided clues about the crime. After assessing the clues and eliminating suspects, the students solved the crime and the suspect was apprehended.

The videoconference aligned with the fourth-grade social studies curriculum and focused on local communities in New York state, industrial growth, geography and transportation. It was part of a distance learning offering provided by the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation. The service strives to bridge the gap in educational opportunities and enhance learning experiences for students, teachers and community members by providing overall program coordination services, technical support, identification of district needs and connectivity access to school districts and educational institutions.

Dillon students participate in ‘Who’s Who in the Zoo’ videoconference

The life skills class at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School learned about animals and the role of zookeepers as part of the “Who’s Who in the Zoo” virtual connection. Students asked questions about the different animals and discussed the habitats and eating habits of several species.

Through the videoconference, students learned about positive reinforcement training and how zookeepers use that technique with giraffes to move them from one area to another. The students were excited to simulate the training in the classroom, as one student portrayed the zookeeper and another acted as a giraffe.

The videoconference was a distance learning offering was provided by the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation. The service strives to bridge the gap in educational opportunities and enhance learning experiences for students, teachers and community members by providing overall program coordination services, technical support, identification of district needs and connectivity access to school districts and educational institutions.

Science experiments featured at Maroun Elementary

The Michael A. Maroun Elementary School gymnasium was abuzz with excitement as nearly 65 students showcased their experiments at the annual science fair.

Students from kindergarten through fourth grades created projects pertaining to chemistry, biology, earth science and physics. Tables lined the gym with volcano eruptions, solar systems and magnetism displays, with students explaining their findings to a panel of judges. Each participant received a certificate and a handful of students earned additional awards for overall presentation in their respective category.

The event was sponsored by the MAM Parent Faculty Organization, which lauded the students’ accomplishments and encouraged the students’ continued interest in scientific research.

“Completing a science project allows children an opportunity to use critical thinking and problem solving skills in identifying a scientific question, figuring out how to answer their question and answering it,” the PFO said.