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Phoenix, NY 13135
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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.

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.

Program introduces inclusive sports to Phoenix students

Students at John C. Birdlebough High School recently received a lesson in inclusion and adaptability during physical education classes facilitated by Move Along Inc.

The organization aims to provide adapted recreational opportunities for people who live with disabilities in Central New York, and students in the Phoenix Central School District experienced this first hand. During a weeklong program, representatives from Move Along Inc. provided adaptive equipment for students to use in physical education classes. They learned to play wheelchair basketball, sled hockey and hand cycle.

“We wanted to expose our students to the inclusive opportunities in the community,” said JCB teacher Angie Neiss. “They’re learning about empathy and compassion. It’s a great program and learning experience.”

Students lauded the program and said they were grateful to learn about the many inclusive athletic opportunities available in the local community.

EJD Middle School announces Gold and Silver Star students for second quarter

Emerson J. Dillon Middle School is proud to announce its Gold and Silver Star students for the second quarter of the 2016 – 2017 school year. Students earning Gold Star distinction have maintained a quarterly grade point average of 90 or higher with no incompletes or failing grades. Students earning Silver Star distinction have maintained a quarterly grade point average of 85 to 89.99 with no incompletes or failing grades. 

Grade five Gold Star honorees are: Peyton Aller, Lyla  Barrow, Avery Bowman, Myah Burnham, Noah Bushnoe, Owen Champion, Reghan Conley, Landon Crandall, Amelie Creighton, Gabriella Dates, Caitlin Dean, Sophie Delahunt, Anthony DeMarchi, Rylee Denslow, Marra DiGiovanni, Erika Dygert, Gianna Ende, Mackenzie Fatcheric, Abrielle Fayette, Savannah Felix, Leland Frantz, Nathan Gaylord, Harleigh Greenleaf, Cody Hager, Parker Hall, Haley Hammond, Donald Hook, Cameron Kreis, Kaylen Lamphere, Beth Landers, Emily LaPine, Brycen LaRobardiere, Lillian MacDonald, Lia McBurnie, Chase McElyea, Cayden McKay,  Mariyah Metot, Jordyn Meyers, Claire Minney,  Austin Moore, Alyssa Murphy, Caedance Myer, Degan Parker, Macray Pelton, Ellie Peterson, Alexis Phoenix, Margo Pritting, Charles Quaco, Nathaniel Quaco, Mason Renfrew, Ethan Reynolds, Nicholas Root, Sara Ruetsch, Arlin, Russo, Lucas Stellingwerf, Alaina Sutter, Landen Thatcher, Chloe Thomas, Lukas Wooding, and Nathan Worden.

Grade five Silver Star honorees are: Savannah Brown, Shane Byrne, Carielys Calderon, Dakoda Capozzi, Madalyn Carter, Ty Corey, Charles Crandall, Emma Dailey, Tyler D'Arcy, Juliahana Dennis, Hunter Eldred, Matthew Froio, Joshua Gullen Jr., Sabrina Haynes, Caleb Jolly, Julia Kazmark, Jason LaRonde, Gabrielle Lenway, Sadiemae Maher, Hannah Morrison, Alissa Newman, Gaige Pitre, Hunter Potts, Madison Quaco, Jayden Rawson, Ryanna Rose, Logan Smallman, Mariah Sutliffe, and Miranda Young.

Grade six Gold Star honorees are: Chase Bacon, Isaiah Bergman, Allenmichael Borasky, Elisabeth Caltabiano, Courtney Carter, Emily Dunn-Hulett, Hayley Dygert, Michael Farrar, Madison Fatcheric, Evan Fox, Lindsey Goudy, Mia Graham, Mallory Hess, Blake Hoyt, Evan Isabell, Olivia Isabella, Alan Jacques, Conor Jones, Chase Kenner-Carbonaro, Alyssa Lantry, Merlin Lough, Morgan Lynch, Brooke McCann, Peyton Nichols, Tateum Patnode, Cody Perry, Logan Petrie, Lillianne Quinn, Hannah Reilley, Sheriden Southworth, Celia Tangorra, Ryan Thompson, and Alexander Whaley.

Grade six Silver Stars honorees are: Garrett Audas, Grayson Brady, Haden Baugh, Aiyannah Bukowski, Peyton Callahan, Solomon Campbell, Liam Campanino, Isaac Chesbro, Christopher Clarke II, Blake Duncan, Mark Eusepi Jr., Kenidee Grover, Chloe Harvey, Mattie Hunt, Brandon Ingoldby, Dylan Jones, John McDonald, Jenna Moore, and Nicholas Shank.
Grade seven Gold Stars honorees are: Sarah Andrews, Stephen Beal, Virginia Bednarski, Alissa Bova, Adrianna Breckheimer, Chloe Coughlin, Mariah Gilligan, Isaiah Gordon, James Hagg II, Bethany Hook, Alexandra Hopps, Alaina Hubbell, Tye Hughes, Autumn Kelly, Karson Kimball, Grace Landis, Nevaeh Lando, Maggie LaPine, Larissa MacDonald, Hannah McArthur, McKenna Neiss, Jacob Neupert, Kelsey Redhead, Kylie Russo, Sean Stevens, and Chastity Thomas. 

Grade seven Silver Star honorees are: Sarah Ashby, Mathew Bernard, Ian Burgett, Conner Calkins, Brendan Champion, Jared Charleston, Thomas Checksfield, Kaitlyn Chesbro, Mary Crandall, Johnathan Dion, Charity Frantz, Dominic Germain, Brian Gibbs, Joseph Green, Madisen Guerrero, Maurice Handy, Jonah Hawthorne, Zackary Hunter, Daren Jackson, Lee Ketaily, Dominick Mason, Nicholas McCann, 
Madeline Mills, Erick Moreira, Max Morgan, Brady Munger, Carter Norton, Gabriella Payne, Carter Pinkley, Ariana Richway, Jacob Smallman, Taylor Smith, Olivia Snyder, Daniel Stellingwerf, Gaven Sutter, 
Ella Tangorra, and John Wallace.

Grade eight Gold Star honorees are: Isabella Allen, Shay Altman, Ashleigh Besaw, Haley Bowersox, Natalie Brown, Sara Brunell, Chloe Calkins, Kaelyn Cartwright, Hannah Charleston, Tabitha  Clark, Emma Clark, Sophia Crandall, Brielle DeRoberts, Alicia Durst, Francesca Goodell, Noah Gordon, Zachary Green, Cierra Harvey, Mattison Hess, Nathan Kosakowski, Alivia Lamphere, Miranda LaRobardiere, Jock Li, Megan Lytle, Owen Lytle, Zack     Mills, Andrew Quinn, Tyler Redhead, Connor Roberts, Lily Roberts, Mackenzie Shank, Aiden Southworth, Nathaniel Sutter, Nicholas Sutter, Liam Sweeney, Zoie Tracy, Melody Trask, Sophia Trinca, Aidan Trumble, Thomas Uhl, Michael VanAuken Jr., and Mason Watkins.

Grade eight Silver Star honorees are: Sarai Brown, Kelsie Burgess, Jonathan Campbell, Alexander Coons, Hailie Dailey, Haylie Dodge, Alexis Dryer, Alivia Eusepi, Emma Fatcheric, Ethan Fox, Hailey Fredericks, Katherine Holbrook, Braden Jolly, Amanda Justian, Molly Kelly, Lillyan Kingsbury, Patricia Lamach, Tori-Lenn Loosen, Danielle Loy, Jillian Loy, Robert Minard,  Rocco Mistico, Kylie Mulcahey, Alex Olschewske, Imari Piscitelli, Holt Reed, Keaton Renfrew,  Roemello Rondinello, William Semanchuk-Enser, Garrett Strang, Caitlyn Sutkus, Benjamin Thibault, Corinne Thibault, Ashlyn Wallace, Molly Werth, and Jada Wyatt.

PCSD students perform in honor bands

Some of Phoenix Central School District’s most musically-talented students recently performed in the New York State Band Director’s Association’s annual Symposium of middle school and high school honor bands.

Band directors from throughout the state submitted recommendations for the prestigious honor based on the previous year’s New York State School Music Association scores for students and overall achievement.

Dr. Shelley Jagow directed the Middle School Honor Band, for grades seven and eight, which was comprised of 112 students coming from 42 school districts. Their program included “Into the Clouds” by Richard Saucedo, “El Camino Real” by Alfred Reed and arranged by Robert Longfield, “Rippling Watercolors” by Brian Balmages and “Café 512” by Ryan George.

Accepted from Phoenix as first alternates for the NYSBDA Middle School Honor Band this year were Lily Roberts (French Horn) and Hannah Charleston (Euphonium). Phoenix Central School District was the only school district from Oswego County to have students selected to the Middle School Honor Band this year.

Dr. Evan Feldman directed the High School Honor Band. Comprised of 123 students in grades nine through 12 from 54 school districts, the program included “Kirpatrick Fanfare” by Andrew Boysen Jr., “Irish Tune from County Derry” by Percy Aldridge Grainger, “Blue Shades” by Frank Tichelli, “Melodius Thunk” by David Biedenbender and “Downey Overture” by Oscar Navarro. Phoenix Central, Fulton City, Hannibal Central, and Central Square Central school districts all had students selected to perform in this year’s High School Honor Band.

The PCSD Music Department is also proud to be included in the NAfME top 100 schools in America for Music Education for the 2016 school year. This is the fifth straight year for this designation. The department extended a special thank you to the PCSD administration team and the Board of Education for their continued support of all Phoenix students.


Representing Phoenix Central School District in the NYSBDA Middle School Honor Band, from left, are Thomas Uhl (Trumpet), Aiden Trumble (Trumpet), Virginia Bednarski (Trumpet) and Chloe Calkins (Euphonium).

From left, Daniel Knowlton (Trumpet) and Brian Breen (Flute) are all smiles after they were selected to perform in the NYSBDA High School Honor Band.

Students selected for Poco Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble

EJD students Nicholas Bartlett, Natalie Brown, Lily Roberts, Sophia Trinca, Aidan Trumble, and Alex Olschewske have been selected to participate in the Poco Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble through Syracuse University.

EJD students Grace Landis, Virginia Bednarski, Ariana Richway, Sarah Andrews, and Cameron Huntley round out the list of students earning the honor of joining this year’s Poco Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble.

Several talented musicians from the Emerson J. Dillon Middle School were selected to participate in the Poco Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble through Syracuse University. Students have been rehearsing since January, and have worked very hard to prepare a demanding concert within just five rehearsals. The first of two Poco Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble concerts was held recently on the Syracuse University campus. The concert program included Victory and Celebration by Alan Lee Silva, Plaza de Toros by Mark Williams, Fantasia on the ‘Dargason’ by Gustav Holst as arranged by Michael Story, and the music from Les Miserables as arranged by Michael Sweeny.

Participating middle school students include Grace Landis on flute, Ariana Richway on flute, Natalie Brown on clarinet, Sarah Andrews on tenor saxophone, Nicholas Bartlett on baritone saxophone, Virginia Bednarski on trumpet, Katelyn Pyzdrowski on trumpet, Aidan Trumble on trumpet, Lily Roberts on French horn, Cameron Huntley on euphonium, Alex Olschewske on percussion, and Sophia Trinca on percussion.

Poco Allegro is a community-based ensemble for students in seventh and eighth grade in the Central New York area. Over one-hundred dedicated and talented students were accepted into the group, based on teacher recommendations and continue to represent the high quality of music programs across Central New York. The group rehearse alongside the Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble, which consists of students in grades nine through twelve. Both ensembles are co-directed by Elizabeth Buell of the Westhill School District, Terrance Caviness of the Fulton City School District, and Professor Justin Mertz, Director of Bands at Syracuse University. The second and final concert in the Allegro and Poco Allegro series will be held at 2:00 pm on Sunday, March 26 in the Setnor Auditorium at Syracuse University.

The Phoenix Central School Music Department has been included in the 2016 National Association for Music Education top 100 schools in America for Music Education. “This marks the fifth consecutive year for this designation," music teacher David Frateschi said. “Special thanks go out to the Phoenix administration team and the Board of Education for their continued support of our students here in Phoenix.”

EJD students display artistic abilities at local exhibit

Several Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students were recently selected to represent EJD at a special exhibit celebrating students’ artistic achievements.

Throughout the month of March, visitors to Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville may view “Student Art: Naturally” entries about landscapes, plant and animal studies, waterscapes and other artwork in the form of paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and collage. The styles range from highly realistic to incredibly imaginative.

An opening reception was held March 1 to honor the young artists. Each student received a certificate and ribbon in recognition of their participation in the show.  Refreshments were also served.

“Student Art - Naturally” is organized annually by the Central Region of the New York State Art Teachers Association in co-operation with Beaver Lake Nature Center. The following EJD students participated in the show: Michael VanAuken, Sophie Crandall, Sara Brunell, Sophia Trinca, Nathan Kosakowski, Mackenzie VanAuken, Brielle Roberts, Ethan Fox, Zoie Tracy, Mattison Hess, Chloe Coughlin, Sydney Bingham, Tabitha Clark, Megan Lytle, Erick Moreira, Kylie Russo, Jock Li, Nate Sutter, Jayde Jacobson, Alivia Lamphere and Sarai Brown.

Art teachers Beth Pritchard and Ashley Modafferi supported the students at the art show reception. Modafferi, NYSATA Chairperson for the Beaver Lake Intermediate Art Show, encouraged Phoenix Central School District students, staff members and community supporters to explore the EJD talent on display at the nature center. The artwork will be shown until March 28 in honor of March as Youth Art Month.


EJD student Tabitha Clark proudly displays the honors she received for her colorful dock at sunset
artwork, to her left, which is hung in the “Student Art: Naturally” art exhibit at Beaver Lake Nature Center,
sponsored by the Central Region of the New York State Art Teachers Association.