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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.

Fourth-graders present living history museum

A month-long lesson on the American Revolution recently culminated in a living history museum at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School.

Students in Aimee Brooker’s fourth-grade class studied key figures, battles, dates and other historical events tied to the Revolutionary War. To reinforce the lessons from the textbook, the fourth-graders conducted additional research, created Powerpoint presentations and made costumes to transform into famous people from that era.

“It really makes them take ownership over what they’re learning,” Brooker said. “They did a great job.”

Dressed in full period costume, complete with wigs, students took on the persona of historical figures such as Betsy Ross, Samuel Adams, Abigail Adams, and other patriots and loyalists. The students exuded confidence as they spoke about their research subject to family members who toured the classroom.

Brooker noted that in addition to her students gaining a better understanding of the American Revolution, kindergartners also benefited from the lesson, as the fourth-graders delivered presentations to the kindergarten classes.

“Kindergartners are learning about George Washington and some of the other political figures from that period,” Brooker said. “It’s a great opportunity for the younger kids to see what they’ll be learning when they get to fourth grade.”

PCSD Earns Distinction as ‘Best Community for Music Education’

The Phoenix Central School District’s music program continues to earn national recognition, as the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) recently named the district one of the Best Communities for Music Education.

This marks the seventh consecutive year that the PCSD has been honored with the prestigious title, which takes into account the efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum. The PCSD was one of 527 districts in the nation to be recognized for demonstrating a commitment and access to music education.

Throughout the school year, the PCSD offers several concerts, plays and performing arts opportunities to its students and community. A complete listing of concerts and events can be found at www.phoenixcsd.org.

EJD Students Participate in All-County Concert

Eight Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students were among the select music students who represented the Firebirds in the Oswego County All County Choral Festival this past weekend.

Elite music students from across the county performed in a combined concert under the direction of guest conductor Shawn Hebert, from Fayetteville-Manlius High School. The Phoenix Central School District was represented by Isaiah Gordon, Megan Lytle, Isabella Allen, Mackenzie Shank, Keaton Renfrew, Aiden Southworth, Garrett Strang and Summer Koegel.

MAM students’ work on display at Beaver Lake Nature Center

Five students from Michael A. Maroun Elementary School will have their artwork on display throughout April at the Beaver Lake Nature Center.

The exhibit features student-submitted work from elementary-age children representing districts across the region. Nature themes ranging from animals to landscapes will be represented in drawings, paintings, prints and collages as part of the “Student Art – Naturally” display.

MAM art teacher Kathy Lambert noted that she was proud of her students and lauded their creativity. She congratulated students Hannah Brooker, Aubrey Chesbro, Jackson Collier, Kendall Barnes and Emma Fox, whose artwork will be featured in the exhibit.

An opening reception will be held at the nature center April 9 to honor the young artists. Refreshments will be served to those in attendance.

JCB’s Thompson to attend All-Eastern Honors Ensemble in NJ

John C. Birdlebough High School senior Zachary Thompson’s extraordinary musical talent has landed him a spot in the 2017 National Association for Music Education All-Eastern Honors Ensemble.

Thompson is accompanied by Phoenix Central School District music teacher David Frateschi on this journey where Thompson will join 800 of the most musically-talented high school students in the Eastern region of the country to perform in the ensembles, April 5 to April 8 at the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was selected to perform in the All-Eastern Honors Mixed Chorus as Tenor 1, and will be joined by about 350 other students.

At the NAfME event, Thompson will also participate in a variety of musical sessions, browse the many exhibitor booths and enjoy live music.

The accomplished singer and musician has been a staple to the Phoenix Central School District music program for several years, thanks to his dedication to improving his vocal and instrumental abilities and the support of his teachers. Brian Logee, JCB chorus teacher and director of JCB musicals, said he is extremely proud of Thompson’s accomplishments, which began several years ago in the Phoenix Central School District when Thompson joined chorus in sixth-grade. Thompson’s PCSD musical résumé also includes participation in chorus, band, drumline, marching band, jazz band, chamber singers, musicals and the pit for musical performances. He also has played the piano since he was five years old.

According to the NafME, Thompson and other students selected for the honors ensembles participated in their home all-state festivals.

While Thompson has recognized how exciting it is to perform in the NAfME All-Eastern Honors Ensemble, he said he has remained humbled by the accomplishment.

“It’s super exciting,” he said.

Thompson said he will use the NAfME opportunity to establish music connections for his future. Singing isn’t just a hobby for Thompson; he plans to sing and act professionally.




John C. Birdlebough senior earns “Mr. Phoenix” title

The Phoenix high school auditorium was abuzz with laughter, talent and excitement recently as nine John C. Birdlebough students vied for the title of “Mr. Phoenix.”

The sixth annual pageant featured contestants in ninth through 12th grades who competed in different activities. Participants demonstrated their talents, ranging from music to artistic expression and even culinary creations, as they attempted to win the judges’ votes. An evening wear segment and question-and-answer session gave the contestants another chance to impress the panel of judges before tallying the scores.

John C. Birdlebough High School senior Noah Neverette celebrates as he is crowned Mr. Phoenix.

For senior Noah Neverette, his creative song, eloquent public speaking abilities and his superhero-inspired evening wear propelled him to the top, and he was crowned “Mr. Phoenix.” Neverette edged out his classmates Michael Faber, Matt Vestigo, Cade Reed, Johnathan Garofalo, Ethan Remington, Zach Neupert, Garrett Frink and Dixon Ameele for the title.

According to JCB English teacher and senior class adviser Lisa Spereno, the event was a tremendous success and raised more than $400 for the junior class.

EJD students celebrate Music Around the World

The Emerson J. Dillon Middle School gymnasium was buzzing with excitement and tunes during its recent Music in Our Schools Month concert.

Students in fifth through seventh grades performed nearly a dozen songs to an audience of friends, family and Phoenix Central School District staff. The fifth-grade band kicked off the evening with “Land of the Rising Sun” and “Uskudar,” under the direction of Joanna Young. Following that performance, the fifth- and sixth-grade chorus sang “Tongo” (Polynesia) and “Ciranda da Lua” (Brazil) as they embraced the evening’s theme of Music Around the World.

Sixth-grade band students continued to weave the theme into their performances as they played Irish and African music, followed by the seventh- and eighth-grade chorus’ songs inspired by Korea and Zambia.

The evening wrapped up with a trifecta of songs from the seventh- and eighth-grade band, including “Around the World in 80 Measures,” “Sheherazade” and “La Virgen de la Macarena.”

In addition to the “Music Around the World,” there were other activities and artwork on display throughout the building that incorporated aspects of other cultures and countries.

Sophomores declared JCB Battle of the Classes champions

It was a hard-fought school-spirit battle, but the John C. Birdlebough High School sophomores were ultimately named Battle of the Classes champions.

While the seniors went into the championship event with the most team spirit points, it was the Class of 2019 that became victorious in the final head-to-head tug-of-war match with the Class of 2017.

Students filled the school gymnasium and flocked to their respective color-coded sections: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Emceed by JCB Assistant Principal Patrick Fitch, the culmination school spirit event showcased Firebird pride and challenged representatives from each class to fun, physical activities such as an obstacle course and a relay race. Teachers and Principal Thomas Bailer also joined the fun and participated in their own cup-stacking, scooter-racing and egg-carrying relay.

Loud foot stomps rumbled throughout the bleachers, while students and staff members cheered for their favorites. Senior class members riled their section by banging on a drum and a gong. The Firebird mascot flapped its wings, encouraging all classes to cheer on their peers.

Battle of the Classes also featured a parade of athletes and a stellar performance from the high school’s drumline.

Battle of the Classes champions

JCB bands shine in spring concert

Several John C. Birdlebough High School students showcased their instrumental talents during the annual spring bands concert.

Symphonic band members kicked off their performance with “Hill Country Holiday,” which featured trumpet solos by Darren Fischel and Mason Lange. “Ashokan Farewell” was made familiar in Civil War documentaries because it was based on a letter a soldier wrote to his wife before battle and never came home. JCB students beautifully performed the piece, with Ethan Hunt featured on baritone saxophone. The symphonic band ended their section with a medley of hits from the Disney movie, Aladdin.

The Disney fun continued as the wind ensemble performed an upbeat and vibrant medley of hits from The Little Mermaid. “Symphonic Fanfare” was a splendid celebration of each wind ensemble section, while “Xerxes” was an exciting, fast-paced piece based on the story of wiping out a civilization and revenge. In the latter tune, Zachary Thompson showed off his talents during a soprano saxophone solo.

Both the band and ensemble joined together on stage to end the concert with “Olympiada” and selections from the Broadway show “Wicked.”

The symphonic band, wind ensemble and combined ensemble were all conducted by Liza Grethel.


Below, JCB students stand for applause at the conclusion of their spring concert.

Phoenix educator earns PE Teacher of the Year Award

Michael A. Maroun physical education teacher Alice Benjamin recently earned recognition for her dedication and service to students in the Phoenix Central School District.

Amy Coleman, president of the Central North Zone chapter of the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, presents a Teacher of the Year Award to Phoenix PE teacher Alice Benjamin.

During a ceremony honoring physical education teachers across the Central North Zone, the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AHPERD) presented Benjamin with a “Teacher of the Year” Award. The honor is given to individuals who demonstrate excellence in teaching and overall performance in the disciplines of physical education.

According to Stephen Musso, Director of Health, PE and Athletics, Benjamin is a dedicated, caring, fun, knowledgeable professional deserving of the recognition. Her drive for helping others extends beyond the classroom, he said, noting that she is a sports booster club representative in her community and she serves on numerous committees.

“In the short time I've known Mrs. Benjamin, I can see that she has a strong presence in the classroom and brightens each student’s day,” Musso said. “She is well respected by colleagues and loved by students.”

Benjamin has been a physical education teacher in Phoenix for more than 20 years. Her colleagues lauded her efforts and commitment to her students. In her nomination form, one colleague said, “She goes above and beyond every single day in her classroom. Her creativity goes into every lesson plan.”

Benjamin was among six physical education teachers in the region who earned the Teacher of the Year distinction. The awards were presented during a ceremony in Canastota on March 2.