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

Phoenix juniors earn scholarships

With a year left until graduation, several John C. Birdlebough High School juniors already received a financial boost for their post-secondary education.

Eighteen scholarships, totaling more than $500,000, were presented during a recent ceremony in the high school auditorium. The financial awards were offered by universities and colleges such as Wells, LeMoyne, Elmira, Rochester and more, and recognized those who excelled in the classroom and as citizens.

“Congratulations to all of our award-winners,” Principal Thomas Bailer said. “Be proud of who you are as a person, be proud as a Firebird, and proud as a member of this community. Continue to work hard and strive for your best and you also will continue to create a bright future.”

The following juniors earned scholarships: Gianna DeRoberts (St. Lawrence University Book Award); Nicole Henry (Clarkson University Leadership Award); Erika Brown (RIT Innovation & Creativity Scholarship Award); Emilie Hilliard (University of Rochester’s Bausch & Lomb Award); Marcus Berube (University of Rochester’s Xerox Innovation & Information Technology Award); Gabriella Allen (Wells College – 21st Century Leadership Award); Megan Hess and Olivia Thrall (Keuka College George H. Ball Community Achievement Award); Declan Hawthorne and Makayla Newvine (Elmira College Key Awards); Joshua Van Gorder and Edward Zellar (Student Sage Awards); Olivia Ripley (Rensselaer Medal Award); Kristine Rowe (Clarkson University Achievement Award);  Wendy Li (University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglas & Susan B. Anthony Award); Alayna Merrill (University of Rochester’s George Eastman Young Leaders Award & Scholarship); Ashley Margrey (RIT Computing Medal & Scholarship Awards); and Mariah Sheirer (LeMoyne College Heights Award).


Photo caption

John C. Birdlebough High School junior scholarship winners gather for a group photo after a recent awards assembly.

JCB seniors earn Dollars for Scholars scholarships

The Phoenix chapter of Dollars for Scholars recently awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships to members of the John C. Birdlebough High School Class of 2018.

Dollars for Scholars Phoenix chapter president Wendy Dunnigan presents a scholarship to Julianne Yates.Chapter President Wendy Dunnigan welcomed students, friends, family and community members to the annual awards night in the high school auditorium. She congratulated the recipients and thanked everyone who contributed to the scholarships.

“For 33 years, we’ve been recognizing outstanding Phoenix students for their academic achievement and community service,” Dunnigan said. “I would like to congratulate all of you, you are all well-deserving of these scholarships.”

Emcee Katherine Bechard also lauded the 31 recipients for their contributions to the greater Phoenix community. She noted the scholarship winners were “committed, thoughtful and persevering,” and encouraged them to continue exhibiting those traits in the future.

“Don’t limit your challenges, but challenge your limits,” she said.

Seniors earn recognition at Phoenix farewell concert

The John C. Birdlebough symphonic band performs under the direction of Liza Grethel.The Phoenix Central School District’s Music Department celebrated its seniors during a recent farewell concert in the high school auditorium.

Embracing the theme of the evening, “On the Shoulders of those who came Before Us,” the students posthumously honored Gregory Woodruff for his contributions to the PCSD music program. Conductor Liza Grethel noted that Woodruff had a remarkable impact on Phoenix student musicians from 1980-2000.

“He touched hundreds of lives as he inspired his students with his passion for music,” Grethel said. “We honor his memory and take comfort in knowing that he will always be a part of JCB and his influence will have no end.”

With Woodruff in mind, the students performed several songs throughout the evening, interspersed with awards and recognition. The following seniors were recognized for their efforts throughout their years in the PCSD music program: Dixon Ameeele, Donovan Basile, Hali Denniston, Victoria Dievendorf, Garrett Frink, Alyssa Goudy, Trinity Green, Zoe Heckert, Nina Lewis, Christine McCarthy. Shania Meaker, Sean Sievers and Julianne Yates.


Photo caption

  1. The John C. Birdlebough symphonic band performs under the direction of Liza Grethel.
  2. Conductor Liza Grethel presents Phoenix senior Dixon Ameele with the Patrick Gilmore Band Award for his contributions to the band.

Phoenix teacher secures funding for student scholarship

JCB Principal Thomas Bailer, teacher Kevin Doll, students Ashley Carbonaro, Caroline Harrington, Paul Zogg and Mark Zogg, and teacher Doug Zogg gather for a check presentation ceremony.

Phoenix Central School District technology teacher Doug Zogg recently secured funding that will benefit a Class of 2018 graduate.

The $2,000 Gene Haas Foundation Scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior who is pursuing a post-secondary program for engineering or related CNC machine technology. Scholarship funds are for tuition, books and supplies the student is required to provide such as personal tooling.

Zogg noted that he was thrilled to receive word of the funding and noted it will benefit the recipient as he/she pursues machining technology. He expects to select a scholarship winner in mid-June.

Musumeci earns national scholarship

With a wealth of leadership experience, community service and academic excellence, John C. Birdlebough High School senior Catherine Musumeci recently climbed her way to the top of the applicant pool and earned a Coca-Cola scholarship.

Catherine MusumeciThe Phoenix student is no stranger to accolades, as she has earned numerous awards throughout her academic career, including the title of valedictorian of the Class of 2018. However, the Coca-Cola scholarship came as a surprise, she said, because there were so many students across the nation who applied. Of the 90,000 applicants, Musumeci was one of the 150 students selected for the prestigious scholarship.

“The application process was pretty extensive,” Musumeci said. “The initial application was basic, but the semifinalist application was more in-depth and asked for a statement of impact, two letters of recommendation and things along those lines. Then there was the regional application, which was an interview in New York City.”

For Musumeci, the extensive application process paid off in the form of a $20,000 scholarship, which she will use to pursue a biomedical engineering degree in college next year. Although she is still narrowing down her college choices – Rochester Institute of Technology, Boston University or Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – she has already mapped out her career path.

“I’m really interested in artificial organ research,” she said. “My sister is a Type 1 diabetic, so the artificial pancreas and the bionic pancreas project that are going on are really interesting to me. I would love to be a part of those projects.”

With an eye toward the future, Musumeci is looking forward to the remainder of her high school career and continued service to the Phoenix community. She is class president, a member of the National Honor Society, serves on the Principal’s Cabinet, and participates in tennis and track.

“The leadership skills I have developed coming from a small school and a small community have been very individualized,” she said. “That will benefit me going into a big university or the world in general. Phoenix has given me so many opportunities to be successful.”

Musumeci will be honored along with the other scholarship winners in Atlanta from April 19-22, where the recipients will also participate in the Leadership Development Institute.

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.



Phoenix marching band defends state title

Senior members of the Phoenix Central School District’s marching band gather for a group photo to show off the hardware they earned as Small Schools 2 Class champions.

Coming off a championship season in 2016, the Phoenix Central School District’s marching band had high expectations going into this year, and their final performance at the Carrier Dome did not disappoint.

The Firebird contingent, under the director of Nick Gerling and assistant director Michelle Rudy, cruised to a state title in the Small Schools 2 Class to cap off a stellar fall season. The winning show, “Life on the Inside,” was a transformative piece that combined props and music to propel the Firebirds to the top of their division with a score of 86.4.

“It means that all of the time and effort going into what they’re doing has paid off,” Gerling said. “It’s time well spent.”

While the Phoenix marching band enjoyed its late-season success, Gerling noted that the season had some challenges along the way.

“They started off slow and steady and we really picked up speed during our third competition at West Genesee,” he said. “After that, they were improving five to six points every week. The students stayed driven and confident, but knew never to get comfortable and always stayed humble.  While the staff worked to inspire the students during practices, the students ended up inspiring us throughout the entire season too. Together we were a great team.”

Gerling said watching the students experience so much success is a testament to their commitment.

“They’re an asset to the music program. They’re dedicated, responsible, hardworking leaders of the district,” Gerling said.

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.





Phoenix students aim to Spike out Cancer

With a focus on helping others, the Phoenix Central School District recently switched from its Firebird orange to a rosy pink during a recent girls’ volleyball match.

In collaboration with the John C. Birdlebough High School Student Council, the volleyball team wore pink shirts and helped raise funds in the hopes of Spiking out Cancer. Student council members sold T-shirts, baked goods and novelty items, while also holding a 50/50 raffle and collecting donations throughout the evening.

“The student council would like to extend its sincerest gratitude to our school and community,” said student council adviser Lisa Spereno. “Thanks to everyone involved, we raised $842 for Golisano Children’s Hospital. Student Council will be providing an additional $158 to send a check totaling $1,000 to the hospital.”

John C. Birdlebough High School students participate in teambuilding activities while developing leadership skills at Camp Talooli in Pennellville.   Spereno noted that student council president Natalie Hart and council member Emily McDonald worked hard to make sure the event was successful. Additional volunteers included students Catherine Musumeci, Makayla Newvine, Taylor Mattice and Lauren Schmidt.

“Thanks also to coach Matt Fuller and coach Anna Turner, the volleyball team and parents for decorating the gym and providing baked goods, Nicole George for helping to sell pretty much everything, and John Jeffries and Thomas Bailer for their absolutely unwavering support,” Spereno said. “It was also fantastic to see so many middle and high school teachers who attended the game!”