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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.

EJD students build hovercrafts

  1. Matt Chase, executive director of the Hovercraft Project, provides instructions to Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students.
  2. Matt Chase, executive director of the Hovercraft Project, provides instructions to Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students.

Phoenix fifth-graders recently built hovercrafts as part of a lesson in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The full-day immersive program, led by Matt Chase of The Hovercraft Project, provided students with an opportunity to work together, solve problems and build a hovercraft that carried riders from one end of the gym to the other. Sixteen teams began the day with materials to measure, cut, assemble and power the low-friction “vehicle.”

Each student had their own role to fulfill, ranging from analyzing data to serving as test pilots. They worked as a team to troubleshoot issues and apply classroom knowledge using limited resources.

Once the teams made their crafts, they lined up at one end of the gym, powered on the vehicles and with one push they were propelled across the floor.

“This is awesome!” fifth-grader Cole Bailer said as he rode his hovercraft across the gym.

“Our philosophy is learn to love to learn,” Chase said. “They are having fun and learning a ton at the same time. The math, engineering and learning pieces are right at their level. It encompasses all the learning standards.”

The Hovercraft Project was brought to the Phoenix Central School District through the Arts in Education program at the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation.

Artist, storyteller provides multifaceted lesson at EJD

1.	Artist and storyteller Christopher Agostino and Emerson J. Dillon Middle School eighth-graders pose for a group photo following a StoryFaces presentation.Phoenix students recently received a multifaceted lesson as artist and storyteller Christopher Agostino brought his StoryFaces performance to Emerson J. Dillon Middle School.

With a full color palette in front of him, Agostino told several stories with Chinese and Japanese cultural roots. As he told each story, he used paint to transform students’ faces into the various scenes and characters. His stories ranged from comics to the supernatural, with some tales even based on Greek mythology.

“Some of these are 2000-year-old stories,” Agostino said. “But it’s these 2000-year-old stories that are still relevant in today’s world. These are stories of heroism. Be the hero in your own life.”

In addition to the tales of heroism, Agostino provided students with a comprehensive lesson, said art teacher Beth Pritchard.

“His sixth-grade performance was great and connected perfectly to the mask-making unit that we teach in our art curriculum! He talked about the importance of colors and icons as a way to represent symbols and meaning in art,” Pritchard said. “His stories ranged from a variety of different cultures from around the world and really made that historical connection that we talk about in class while researching for our own mask-making projects. This was a great way to incorporate everything into one presentation.”

Phoenix students get a lesson in drumming, culture

Music was in the air at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School recently as performer Biboti Ouikahilo presented an African drumming workshop.

The multitalented artist showed off his skills and taught seventh- and eighth-graders his trade. Wearing clothes representative of his native culture in the Ivory Coast, Ouikahilo introduced students to African drumming and dance. Armed with dozens of drums made of animal skins, Ouikahilo provided students with a hands-on music lesson, as he played a set and the students followed suit, staying true to the beat and rhythm.

In addition to the drumming demonstration, Ouikahilo showed off his dancing skills. Groups of students and teachers joined in the routine as well.

2.	Two Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students follow Biboti Ouikahilo’s lead on the drums.The arts-in-education offering was held in conjunction with Wacheva Cultural Arts, which creates unique learning opportunities for students.

“Our purpose as a multicultural arts organization is to create programs involving different cultures where the community is able to experience an expansive understanding of many cultures and ethnic artistic traditions,” according to Wacheva Cultural Arts. “Witnessing teachers sharing their knowledge with students is like watering the garden for its survival. It’s a way to immortalize these cultures because humanity can cease to exist, but the traditions remain alive through the voice of others.”

Second Quarter Gold and Silver Star EJD Students Revealed

Gold and Silver Star recognitions for the second academic quarter were recently announced for students of Emerson J. Dillon Middle school.

Students are awarded a Gold Star for achieving a quarterly report card average of 90 or higher.  A Silver Star is awarded for a quarterly report card average of 85 to 89.99. 

In addition to a certificate of achievement, the students will be invited to a special activity as a reward for their excellent work.

Gold Star recipients in grade five: Trinity Applegate, Briana Ard, Hailey Ashby, Cole Bailer, To'Kye Barnes, Drew Britton, Hannah Brooker, Julian Burns, Matthew Caltabiano, Finnegan Coons, Ashley Dean, Cameron Dryer,Olivia Edwards, Miley Esposito, Gabrielle Ezman, Abigail Felix, Nathan Fortman, Jayden Grant,Logan Greenough, Eden Grethel, Landon Guertin, David Halko, Zackary Henderson,  Alainna Henderson-Nelepovitz, Hailey Hook, Emma Huntley, Edward Kelly, Genevieve Kimball,  Conner Klock,RowanKuropatwinski, Kevin Kurzinski, Taisia Marasco, HaileyMason, Kaylee Mason,Brandon McCarthy, Riley McFall, Jianna Metot, Anastasia Moore, Alexander Nicita, Zachary Nicita, Eliana Occhino, Brooklyn Olschewske,  Joshua Poorman, Relehonna Pope, Tallen Prior, Berkleigh Schneider, Grace-Rose Shue, Alivia Smith, Cecelia  Smith, Leon Smith, Remi Smith, Emily St. Laurent,Emily Stellingwerf, Brookelynn Stewart, Ryan Szyikowski, Grayson Trinca, Ryleigh Williams,  Aleah Worden and Jadelynn Zaryski.

Silver Star recipients in grade five: Jonathan Banks, Reid Bartholomew, Cameron Besaw, Chloe Borrow, Clarence Bullis, Nellie Butler, Dante Cacciola, Jordan Cook, Isabella Crain, Madalynn Emlaw, Emma Fox, Juan Gonzalez,Evan Hansen, Everest Harris, Jonathan Hayes, Taylor Hull, Chase Huntley, Douglas Jacques, Danielle Johnson, Sarah Johnson, Jacob Lindsley,  Gabriel Lyle, Cameron McDowell, Kaiden McNabb, Alexander Miranda-Tapia, Cadence Morrison, Kyra Mosher, Liam Murphy, Kaylee Newman, Julius Spaights, Rachel Stellingwerf, Mason Stott, Danielle Sussey, Aiden Thatcher, Kolson Turner and Kerrigan Walpole.

Gold Star recipients in grade six: Peyton Aller, Emma Bova, Avery Bowman, Myah Burnham, Dakoda  Capozzi, Owen Champion, Kai Clary, Zoey Coleman, Amelie Creighton, Gabriella Dates, Sophie Delahunt, Rylee Denslow, Marra DiGiovanni, Erika Dygert, Gianna Ende, Savannah Felix, Matthew Froio, Harleigh Greenleaf, Haley Hammond, Donald Hook, Lincoln Kersey, Ava Kuropatwinski, Kaylen Lamphere, Beth Landers, Emily LaPine, Brycen LaRobardiere, Lillian MacDonald, Lia McBurnie, Chase McElyea, Cayden McKay, Jordyn Meyers, Claire Minney, Hannah Morrison, Alyssa Murphy, Caedance Myer, Degan Parker, Macray Pelton, Ellie Peterson, Margo Pritting, Charles Quaco, Nathaniel Quaco, Jayden Rawson, Mason Renfrew, Ethan Reynolds, Nicholas Root, Sara Ruetsch, Arlin Russo, Lucas Stellingwerf,Alaina Sutter, Chloe Thomas and Luke Zellar.

Silver Star recipients in grade six: Lyla Barrow, Savannah Brown, Noah Bushnoe, Shane Byrne, Madalyn Carter, Alana Clough, Ty Corey, Charles Crandall, Landon Crandall, Tyler D'Arcy, Mark Davis Jr., Caitlin Dean, Anthony DeMarchi, Jaylynn Dwyer, Hunter Eldred, Abrielle Fayette, Nathan Gaylord, Joshua Gullen Jr., Cody Hager, Parker Hall, Sabrina Haynes, Julia Kazmark, Cameron Kreis, Zachary  Lindsley,  Sadiemae Maher, Austin Moore, Shareese Nelson, Ariana Palmer, Alexis Phoenix, Gaige Pitre, Hunter Potts,Madison Quaco, Landen Thatcher and Miranda Young.

Gold Star recipients in grade seven: Isaiah Bergman, Allenmichael Borasky, Elisabeth Caltabiano, Courtney Carter, JessicaCarter, Christopher Clarke II, Emily Dunn-Hulett, Matthew Durst, Hayley Dygert, Milani Eldred, Michael Farrar, Madison Fatcheric, Evan Fox, Lindsey Goudy, Mia Graham, Kenidee Grover,Mallory Hess, Blake Hoyt, Mattie Hunt, Evan Isabell, Olivia Isabella, Alan Jacques, Conor Jones, Alyssa Lantry, Morgan Lynch, Brooke McCann, Peyton Nichols, Tateum Patnode, Cody Perry, Logan Petrie,Lillianne Quinn, Hannah Reilley, Kayla Snow, Sheriden Southworth, Celia Tangorra, Alexander Whaley and Austin Wilder.

Silver Star recipients in grade seven: Joseph Abt, Garrett Audas, Chase Bacon, RyanBrockway, Grace Calkins, Victoria Cerullo Mackenzie Chetney,Meghan Clothier,Reghan Conley,Madison Coutchure,Robert Finch Jr., Shawn Froio, Zoe Gordon, Brandon Ingoldby,Dylan Jones, John McDonald, Jenna Moore, Thomas Rose III, Lillie Shaffer, Hope Smith and Ryan Thompson.

Gold Star recipients in grade eight: Sarah Andrews, Sarah Ashby, Mackenzee Backus, Virginia Bednarski, Alissa Bova, Adrianna Breckheimer, Jake Charleston, Jared Charleston, Kaitlyn Chesbro, Chloe Coughlin, Mary  Crandall, Johnathan Dion, Charity Frantz, Mariah Gilligan, Isaiah Gordon,  James Hagg II, Jonah Hawthorne,Bethany Hook, Alaina Hubbell, Tye Hughes Jr., Lee Ketaily, Grace Landis, Nevaeh Lando,Maggie LaPine, LarissaMacDonald,  Hannah McArthur, McKenna Neiss,  Jacob Neupert, Gabriella Payne, Katelyn Pyzdrowski, Kelsey Redhead, Ariana Richway, Kylie Russo, Daniel Stellingwerf, Sean Stevens and Ella Tangorra.

Silver Star recipients in grade eight: Noah Bartholomew, Stephen Beal, Mathew Bernard, Matthew Breton, Ian Burgett, Conner Calkins,Brendan Champion, Breannah Demo, Dominic Germain, Madison Grover, Nicholas Hanson, Jalyn Henry, Benjamin Hess, Alexandra Hopps, Hannah Huff, Daren Jackson, Willyam Jolly, Autumn Kelly, Karson Kimball, Grace McDonald, Cody McFall, MaxMorgan, Brady Munger, Weston Murphy, Carson Newvine, Carter Pinkley, Cole Rinaldi, Taylor Smith, Olivia Snyder and Gaven Sutter.

Polar Express rolls into Phoenix middle school

The Polar Express made its way into the Phoenix Central School District in the days before Christmas, leaving gifts and holiday cheer in its wake at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School.

EJD student Trey Barker gets a hand labeling and wrapping the gifts he picked out for his family members as part of Polar Express. Phoenix community members, teachers and administrators helped wrap gifts for the students’ families.For more than 15 years, teachers and community members have donated gifts ranging from jewelry to board games, and students then “shop” for their families. After perusing the hundreds of items, students bring the gifts to the library, where teachers and community volunteers help them wrap and label the presents.

According to EJD school psychologist Jill Lunn, who helps organize the event, Polar Express gets bigger every year. The far-reaching event impacts hundreds of students and families, with the givers often receiving the gift of giving and the holiday spirit.

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.

Career Day introduces Phoenix students to different job sectors

Emerson J. Dillon Middle School classrooms transformed into a job fair during a career exploration event Nov. 16.

Phoenix students in fifth through eighth grades had the opportunity to attend three separate career day sessions where they met with employees and experts from a variety of fields. Representatives from healthcare, law enforcement, arts, business, architecture, technology, engineering, automotive and other job sectors were available to provide first-hand insight and advice to the students as they prepare for the future.

Clarence Bullis tries to lift the SWAT vest of Oswego County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Taylor. The deputy talked to students during career day about the different gear worn by law enforcement in different situations.“We have more than 40 people representing as many career fields as we can,” said EJD counselor Andrew Quirk. “For our fifth- and sixth-graders, this serves as the foundation of their exploratory search, and our seventh and eighth-graders can build on their already established skills and interests.”

The event enabled students to ask questions about specific jobs and learn more about the education and skills required of certain positions. The format of the event also allowed students to gain a thorough understanding of their desired career paths, whether it be a blue-collar or white-collar position.

“We think outside of the box and really try to bring in as many CiTi BOCES programs and local connections as we can,” Quirk said. “It’s great having current and former students come in and talk about their own experiences.”

Phoenix art students tour the Everson Museum

Eighth-grade studio art students from the Phoenix Central School District took their studies out of the classroom and into a museum during a recent field trip.

Eighth-graders from Emerson J. Dillon Middle School view exhibits during a recent tour of the Everson Museum of Art. The Emerson J. Middle School students visited the Everson Museum of Art, where they viewed special exhibits, toured the museum's permanent collection and learned about architecture and ceramics. Students viewed famous works from a variety of artists and noted the architectural design of the museum itself, created by artist I.M. Pei. Using their sketchbooks throughout the tour, they recorded details and chose their favorite work of art to formally critique in class using their knowledge of the elements and principles of design. 

The tour and transportation were possible thanks to The Richard S. Shineman Foundation Bus Fund, which was established in 2015 to subsidize bus transportation for Oswego County schools to engage in these types of art museum experiences.

EJD student musicians shine at state festival

From left are Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students Virginia Bednarski (trumpet), Chloe Calkins (euphonium), Lily Roberts (French horn), Alex Olschewski (percussion), Aidan Trumble (trumpet), and Sarah Andrews (tenor saxophone). The six musicians recently demonstrated their talents during the annual Junior High Area All-State Music Festival.

Six Phoenix Central School District student musicians recently demonstrated their talents during the annual Junior High Area All-State Music Festival.

Held in Cortland, students from 46 school districts statewide participated in either treble choir, mixed chorus, orchestra or concert band. The 93-member concert band was comprised, in part, of Emerson J. Dillon Middle School students Virginia Bednarski, Chloe Calkins, Lily Roberts, Alex Olschewski, Aidan Trumble and Sarah Andrews. They performed “Symphonic Overture” by Charles Carter; “Into The Raging River” by Steven Reineke; “Songs from the Heartland” by Russel Mikkelson, Lisa Galvin and Zachary Roberts; and “Musical Haiku #14 Never Forgotten” by Stephen Melillo.

“Phoenix is very proud to be the third largest district represented in this year’s band,” said EJD band teacher David Frateschi. “The Phoenix Central School Music Department is also very proud to be included in the National Association for Music Education’s top 100 schools in America for Music Education for the 2016-17 school year. Special thanks go out to the Phoenix administration team and the board of education for their continued support of our students here in Phoenix.”    

Inspirational speaker delivers powerful message to Phoenix students

1.	Nationally renowned speaker Jeff Yalden delivers an inspirational message to John C. Birdlebough High School students recently.
With a focus on making positive choices, students in the Phoenix Central School District recently wrapped up Red Ribbon Week with a guest speaker whose inspirational message left a powerful impact.

Jeff Yalden, a nationally renowned speaker, met with students at the middle school and high school to share his uplifting message and encourage positive life choices. He told his story as someone who battles mental illness and has overcome many obstacles on his road to self-discovery. That road, Yalden said, was paved with self-esteem, ownership and perseverance.

“I am a man with a mental illness, but I’m not a victim,” Yalden said. “Don’t ever play that card. Every single day you’re responsible for your attitude and your choices.”

Yalden shared personal stories of his family and his experiences as a father, a coach and motivational speaker. He focused on his journey to achieve happiness.

“Life is not about perfection; it’s about progress,” Yalden said. “Happiness comes from you. Stop waiting to be validated by your parents, teachers or coaches. Whatever you do in life, it starts with you.”

Principal Thomas Bailer noted that Yalden’s no-nonsense, “tell it like it is” presentation seemed to resonate with the John C. Birdlebough High School students. He encouraged the students to absorb Yalden’s message.

“There’s always an opportunity to make a positive change,” Bailer said.