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.
When the Phoenix Central School District presents “Les Miserables” School Edition this March, the stage will truly transform into a one-of-a-kind venue.
This year’s production will incorporate a unique twist: a turntable-style stage that rotates with each scene. Director Brian Logee said he has wanted to build a rotating platform for years, and this was the “perfect opportunity.” He said the cast, the play itself, and the support of the booster club made this year the ideal time for the dream to become a reality.
“Les Mis on Broadway had a rotating stage,” Logee said. “That’s the artistry of it. The stage changes the whole way the scenes are portrayed. There are no breaks in the music, so with the rotating stage, the action never stops.”
The stage, although it came together in Logee’s mind years ago, began taking shape physically in late January. Booster club members Rick and Angela VanGorder, Glen and Nicole Merrill, Gary Blumer, Cliff Frink, and Keith Renfrew joined Logee for a marathon building session.
“There are 200 ball bearings on this, operated by a rope drive,” Logee said. “It took some trial and error to make it operational, but it works!”
With the mechanical portion addressed, Logee said the cast and crew are focusing on delivering a jaw-dropping musical performance. Although he described the music in “Les Mis” as “extremely difficult,” Logee believes the strength of this year’s cast, especially the seniors, will take the show to a new level.
The lead actors in this year’s play include Danielle Merrill, Hannah Grabowski, Ned Greenough, Evan Logee, Joe Brennan, Chloe Koegel, Garrett Frink, Miranda Bowersox and Brian Breen.
“Our cast is going to make this show incredible,” he said. “I want the audience to walk away afterward saying, ‘I can’t believe this is a high school production.’ That’s the greatest compliment an audience can give. We set the bar high here, but the kids always rise to -- or exceed the bar.”
“Les Miserables” School Edition will be performed at 4 p.m. March 9, 7:30 p.m. March 10, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 11 at John C. Birdlebough High School. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens.
John C. Birdlebough High School freshmen were accompanied by upperclassmen as they explored the school during a recent freshman orientation.
After the guided tour, the students were tasked with navigating the hallways themselves to practice their bell schedules in preparation of the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
“You’ll get used to it after a couple of weeks,” one upperclassman told a nervous freshman.
From left, JCB sophomores Olivia Thrall and Megan
Hess, join freshmen Mackenzie Gleason, Carly
Ingerson, Jazmine Butler and Lana Brown on a tour
of the high school.
John C. Birdlebough High School students ages 16 to 18 may further develop their leadership skills by joining Enterprise Fire Co. No. 1 in downtown Phoenix.
Participation in the volunteer fire department’s Restricted Access Member (RAM) Program has afforded Phoenix Central School District students the opportunity to expand their education, leadership abilities and sense of community. Superintendent Judy Belfield said some of JCB’s most dedicated students have participated in the program and she wished more students became involved in the structured environment. Chief John L. McDonald said he would welcome more young adults into the program.
RAM participants must maintain a passing average in school and obtain positive comments from teachers. Although they may ride in the firetrucks to a scene, set up ladders and help with the hose line, RAM members cannot fight fires until they reach the age of 18. They may enroll in firefighting courses if they wish to become a full-fledged Enterprise member or if they would like to pursue other firefighting careers.
Their dedication to the local program may be rewarded as their graduation approaches, as McDonald said a few scholarships are awarded each year.
Pictured in the back row, from left, are: Austin Pierce, Zack Scribner and Austin McDonald. In front, from left, are Douglas Shaffer and Teona Draper. All students are from JCB, except McDonald, who attends G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton.
Phoenix Central and Fulton City school district students enjoy a break
from their duties as members of the Enterprise Fire Co. No. 1’s
Restricted Access Member Program.
John C. Birdlebough High School students showered their teachers with appreciation for their commitment to students throughout the school year.
Student Council President Sarah Hoag said the recent belated Techer Appreciation Day ice cream social in the JCB cafeteria was held in honor of all of the sacrifices teachers make to help each student succeed. Senior Tyler Gabriele expressed his gratitude to JCB staff members for allowing students to learn from their own mistakes, all while encouraging students to never give up.
Representatives from each high school class offered remarks and thanked teachers for both their academic and moral support. Awards were given to staff members for different categories of service: demonstrating loyalty, being role models, showing encouragement, dedication, motivation, commitment, mentorship, inspiration, endurance and school spirit.
Students surprised Kathy Lees with a lifetime presidential award for her 25+ years of service to the Phoenix City School District community. Outgoing Principal Gregory Molloy received a standing ovation as he was honored by students for helping them have a wonderful high school experience.
JCB Principal Gregory Molloy, right, speaks to students and staff members as he receives recognition from
students for helping them have a wonderful high school experience. Looking on are students Tyler Gabriele,
left, and Sarah Hoag, second from left.
Phoenix Central School District seniors Kellen Arnold and Zachary Van Gorder have been named the top two students in the John C. Birdlebough High School Class of 2016.
Arnold was recently named valedictorian and Van Gorder earned salutatorian honors. Both students have been accepted into multiple colleges and are considering which school to attend in the fall.
JCB Principal Gregory Molloy congratulated the top two students during a recent awards presentation in the school library.
“Think about the difficulty of work in classes and all of that hard work to have a GPA over 105,” Molloy told the crowd of students and guests.
John C. Birdlebough High School class of 2016 Valedictorian Kellen Arnold, second from left, and Salutatorian
Zachary Van Gorder, center, are all smiles after being named the top two students. They are flanked by PCSD Executive
Director of Instruction, Personnel and Educational Services Christopher Byrne, JCB Principal Gregory Molloy and PCSD
Superintendent Judy Belfield.
The eighth-graders of the Phoenix Central School District recently took a trip to John C. Birdlebough High School (JCB) where they were introduced to the many elective choices that will be available to them next year.
Students rotated through classrooms, exploring the words of art, music, technology, business and leadership. They were able to talk with teachers and get a feel for what the classes would be like. From band, to engineering concepts, to accounting principles, there is plenty for the students to get involved with next year.
Some electives even offer the earning of college credit at no cost. Guidance Counselor Nora Germain said that many students in the past have graduated with more than 20 credits, enabling them to graduate early from college. Parents were invited to the school that evening for the chance to explore the school and its classes with their students.
To conclude the morning, Birdlebough’s Chamber Singers put on a performance for the eighth-graders in the auditorium, singing the hit Disney song “Let it Go” from “Frozen” among others. Students from the singing group encouraged those in the eighth grade to plug in to what the school has to offer and to not miss out on the opportunities available to them.