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

JCB students shine at Scholastic Art Show

John C. Birdlebough High School students had a stellar showing at the recent Scholastic Art Show.

Eight students now have their artwork displayed through March 2 at the Whitney Applied Technology Center at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, to show Central New York residents how hard they worked on their pieces. The competition’s highest honor of a gold key was awarded to JCB junior Emily Forget for her photograph titled “Sunset over Troubled Waters.” She and her Phoenix Central School District peers were among the young artists in grades 7-12 whose 1,300 pieces of art were honored.

A silvery key award was presented to Nicole Henry for her photograph of “Strategy.” Honorable mention awards were presented to Chloe Calkins for her “Repousse” painting, Kearra Backus for her “Melting Pot” designs, Emilie Hilliard for her “Light Through the Forest” work, Gabrielle Crandell for her “Under a Spotted Sun” watercolor, Marian Sheirer for her “A Midnights Bloom” work and Vanessa Rivera for her “Flower” entry.

JCB art and photography teacher Chris Barrett commended the students for their efforts, and encouraged PCSD supporters and other CNY residents to attend the free exhibit.

student emily forget kneels with her photograph which won an award

JCB student Emily Forget proudly kneels alongside her winning entry “Sunset over Troubled Water,” which is
at the Whitney Applied Technology Center at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, as part of the
annual Scholastic Art Show.



Twelve Phoenix Students Inducted into Tri-M Music Honor Society

Twelve students from the Phoenix Central School District were recently inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, an international organization recognizing students for academic and musical achievement.

Criteria for membership includes being enrolled in a performing music ensemble and demonstrating service and character strength, as well as maintaining a minimum grade point average of 95 or higher in music and an overall average of 80.

The twelve students inducted this year were: Isabella Stacy (saxophone), Declan Hawthorne (voice), Garrett Strange (voice), Zaya Koegel (voice), Aidan Trumble (Trumpet), Natalie Brown (clarinet), Thomas Uhl (trumpet), Isabella Allen (voice), Gabriella Allen (clarinet), Lily Roberts (horn), Bryon Halstead (percussion) and Thomas Uhl (trumpet).

Phoenix Chapter Advisor Liza Grethel expressed great pride in the new inductees as well as all current members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Phoenix.

Tri-M National Music Society Inductees

JCB students, staff members honors military veterans

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.”

vfw post 5540 members ready to fold the American flag

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.





School supply donations help Phoenix students

The Michael A. Maroun Elementary intermediate cafeteria recently transformed into a mini school supply shopping center so Phoenix Central School District students could collect free materials to start the 2017-2018 school year.

The annual school supply distribution event welcomed over 50 elementary, middle and high school families to browse an array of pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks and bottles, crayons, markers, colored pencils, highlighters, Post-It notes, index cards, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks, loose leaf paper, folders and binders. Students were also able to select their own backpacks.

Donations were collected by teachers, administrators and community members in collaboration with the United Way of Greater Oswego County’s Stuff-a-Bus event. About one dozen PCSD staff members volunteered at the recent event, which took place in the evening to reach more families.

Emerson J. Dillon incoming seventh-grader Grace Calkins shows
off her new backpack she picked out at the Phoenix Central School
District’s annual school supply distribution event.

JCB students receive top 2 honors

Alexa Uttamsingh and Brian Breen are humbled to represent the John C. Birdlebough High School Class of 2017 as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

While natural academic, musical and social talents helped carry the pair to the top of their class, both Uttamsingh and Breen said it really was all about hard work and dedication.

“I’ve never really liked the word ‘prodigy,’” Breen said. “Words like that skip the whole portion of work that you do.”

Effort, added study sessions and a continued drive pushed Uttamsingh and Breen to success. Uttamsingh has followed in the footsteps of her sister, Olivia, who was JCB’s Class of 2015 valedictorian. Much like her sister, Alexa found a balance of her school work and extra work required to be named #1 in her class. The Class of 2017 valedictorian will attend the University of Rochester where she will study international relations before going to law school.

She reflected back on her time in the Phoenix Central School District and noted she was captivated by any class taught by social studies teacher Joan Martin. She also thanked JCB secretary Michelle Rudy for always being there for her inside and outside of school.

Uttamsingh encouraged JCB underclassmen not to get worked up or stressed about being valedictorian or salutatorian. She remained focused, studied hard, took small breaks to go to the gym, visited friends, was a lifeguard in summer months, participated in several extracurricular activities and managed to receive a weighted grade point average of 104.36.

Breen said his weighted grade point average of 104.04 was earned by studying when he had any free time. He is most proud that he received a 100 on his trigonometry Regents exam and his attendance to Conference All-State during his junior and senior year, where he played percussion both times. He has participated in marching band, jazz band, winter drumline, Tri-M Music Honor Society and Drama Club, among other extracurricular activities.

He offered the following advice to underclassmen: “Finish all of your work, even if it’s a lot.” Through hard work, he said, students may also find academic areas they unexpectedly excel in, as was the case when he attended Lisa Spereno’s English classes and discovered he enjoyed reading and writing.

Breen will attend Ithaca College for music performance and music education. He plans on being a music teacher. He thanked his mother for her unwavering support and said without her assistance and guidance he wouldn’t be where he is today.





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.




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.

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.

Musical talent abound at JCB

The Phoenix Central School District is home to some of the state’s most talented student musicians.

Several John C. Birdlebough High School students recently performed in the New York State School Music Association Senior High Area All-State Festival in Whitesboro. They showcased their talents in band, orchestra, mixed chorus and women’s chorus as they played alongside students from Oswego, Herkimer and Oneida counties.

JCB Band Director Liza Grethel said students were selected for the honor because they received high scores for their NYSSMA solo piece performed in the spring of 2016. Grethel commended JCB seniors Daniel Knowlton, who played a trumpet, and Samantha Harrison, who played a French horn, for their Area All-State Orchestra performance, which she said is an exceptional honor because JCB does not have an orchestra program.

Praise was also given to the four mixed chorus members, one member of the women’s chorus, and five students who performed in the concert band. Grethel said the Senior High Area All-State Festival provided students with an opportunity to make music at a high skill level, which “really gives them a unique experience.”


JCB seniors Samantha Harrison and Daniel Knowlton recently
participated in the New York State School Music Association
Senior High Area All-State orchestra.