Category Archives: Featured Stories

Stone Soup luncheon raises money for food pantries

The annual Stone Soup luncheon, on Nov. 12, benefitted the UnitedWay Oswego’s fundraising efforts in support of local food pantries: Human Concerns Center, The Salvation Army Oswego NY and Catholic Charities of Oswego County.

Canale’s Restaurant, Lombardo’s Bridie Manor, Vona’s, Oswego County Club and GS Steamers Bar and Grill each provided hot soups. C’s Farm Market and Davis Brothers provided tossed salad and dressing and Bosco and Geers donated fresh baked rolls and butter. Coffee was from Dunkin’ Donuts and water was from Paul’s Big M. 

St. Luke residents enjoy ‘happy hour’

The sounds of lively conversation, music and some good food and drink are many of the things normally associated with the pubs or taverns located throughout Oswego.

But for one afternoon recently that atmosphere was found at St. Luke Health Services as residents enjoyed a special “Happy Hour” made possible through the generosity of Eagle Beverage, Inc.

Employees from Eagle Beverage brought beer and other specialty beverages for residents to sample. The St. Luke Food Service staff provided some snacks and residents took care of the lively conversation, making the event a true “Happy Hour.”

In addition to a few “cold ones”, residents also received hats and other mementos to keep.

“Our folks really look forward to a visit from our friends at Eagle Beverage,” said Director of Activities Donna Rose. “We join in thanking Dan Dorsey, Jr. and everyone from Eagle Beverage who stopped in to not only serve residents some of their favorite beverages, but who took the time to visit and share a few laughs.”

“Flipped” math classroom a hit in Fulton

By Ashley M. Casey

Two Fulton Junior High School math teachers presented on their new system to teach seventh- and eighth-graders math at the Nov. 12 school board meeting.

Todd Parks and Pamela McHenry explained the concept of the “flipped” classroom, in which students complete guided note worksheets with video tutorials at home and then do assignments in class, where the teacher is there to assist.

Since last year, the two teachers have been using the online calendar Tockify and the website Sophia.org to create the video tutorials. They found inspiration from other teachers’ video tutorials on YouTube, SchoolTube and TeacherTube.

“I love it because students can go at their own pace, so a student who gets it like that can move on, and others can rewind it and watch it again,” McHenry said.

The “flipped” system also has been beneficial to students who have been absent or who participate in alternative education programs.

Junior High principal Ryan Lanigan said the program was working to “meet the diverse needs of the 21st-century student.”

A handful of students and parents gave their testimonial of the flipped classroom as well.

“I’m liking this (system),” said eighth-grader Alex Stoutenger. “You can print out your homework if you didn’t get a copy in class.”

“He’s a type-A personality like me, so that organization is very important,” said Alex’s mother, Angela. “When you have a busy lifestyle as we have, it makes it easier to go at your own pace … It builds your self-confidence.”

School board member Rosemary Occhino, who is a former educator, said she was “so impressed” with the flipped classroom concept.

“You are truly creating students that are college- and career-ready,” she said. “I can’t imagine the magnitude of the excitement of the seventh- and eighth-graders.”

Parks and McHenry said they plan to expand the concept and are working with teachers from other subjects.

3 schools on LAP list

Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment Betsy Conners shared with the board the district’s plan to improve three schools that are on the Local Assistance Plan.

These schools — the Junior High School and Lanigan and Fairgrieve elementaries  — are in good standing with the state, but are in danger of losing that standing if they do not improve academic achievement and  other areas.

Conners said the building teams from each school completed an extensive self-assessment to determine the areas of concern.

The district followed a rubric of five of the state’s “6 Tenets of Effective Schools:” school leader practices and decisions, curriculum development and support, teacher practices and decisions, student social and emotional developmental health, and family and community engagement.

The final tenet deals only with the district level of organization and was not relevant to the LAP discussion.

The district is working with consultant Pete Backus and Oswego BOCES Special Education School Improvement Specialist Tracy Mosher to get the three schools back on track.

Much of the schools’ issues involved students with disabilities, and Conners said that was “just a symptom of a bigger problem.”

Throughout October and November, the district has observed 115 classes and is seeking the school board’s approval of the DSRDRT and the plan to improve the issues identified. The board is set to adopt the plan Nov. 26.

The district seeks to provide more professional development and instructional support, including a new math instructional specialist. Administrators will also meet with the LAP schools monthly to gauge their progress.

Although it was not identified by the state as a LAP school, the district will examine G. Ray Bodley High School’s standing as well.

“We will be, in December, taking our high school through this process, not because they’re on a LAP, but because of the graduation rates,” Conners added.

Other items

Energy report: Representatives from Siemens Industry, Inc. presented their findings for the 2012-2013 energy performance report. Overall, the district saved $274,527 in energy costs by replacing lighting systems, reducing overnight energy use and installing solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs of every school building except G. Ray Bodley High School. The only school that did not exceed Siemens’ guaranteed energy savings was the Junior High School, and the district and Siemens will examine how they can reduce energy usage there.

thy Nichols reviewed the results of the district’s external audit for the previous and current school years.

Last year, pool revenue was not being turned in with the deposit, but the district has determined to leave the “honor system” of a sign-in sheet and money drop box in place despite the minimal risk of losing money.

The district also discontinued a “meal deal” policy in which students who bought a certain number of lunches could get one free.

This year, the district is looking into internal control self-assessments, keeping an eye on the school lunch fund (which lost money last year in part due to a student boycott) and streamlining the employee salary notification process.

Alternative school: Oswego BOCES’ middle school alternative education program is relocating to the Erie Street school. The program will occupy four rooms on the middle floor.

“It’s a nice, old building. It’s got a lot of charm,” said Superintendent William Lynch. “The classrooms are spacious.”

He said other county districts who send students to this program — such as Phoenix, Hannibal, Oswego, Mexico and Central Square — find Fulton’s central location convenient.

BOE appreciation: Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the week of Oct. 28 through Nov. 1 to be School Board Recognition Week. Lynch said that week fell between Fulton board meetings, so he chose to recognize the board at the Nov. 12 meeting. Board members received cards and gifts from students and school administrators.

Policy updates: Lynch also read updates to the district’s Accident Prevention, Hygiene Precautions and Procedures, and Emergency Plans and School Safety policies. The changes were largely stylistic and included references to community members and not just students and school employees.

Coming up

Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, and three of his Assembly colleagues will host an informational forum on state education reform 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at Baker High School in Baldwinsville.

Three panels — teachers, administrators and parents — will address Barclay and fellow Assembly members Robert Oaks, R-Macedon; Gary Finch, R-Springport; and Ed Ra and Al Graf, two Long

Island Republicans. Community members who wish to speak may bring 10 copies of written testimony to share with the forum.

Lynch said he plans to submit testimony on the Fulton City School District’s behalf.

The next regular school board meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Lanigan Elementary School.

Fulton vets run for veterans awareness

By Ashley M. Casey
For Fulton resident Matias Garcia and his friends, Veterans Day is more than just a day off.

The four men — all veterans of various branches of the United States’ armed forces — decided to commemorate their service and their colleagues’ with a run from Oswego to Fulton for the second year in a row.

Matias, an Army veteran who served in on the front lines in Afghanistan, joined Tomas Garcia and Victor Garcia (no relation, both Marines) and Derek Shue, Navy, in carrying an American flag for the roughly 11-mile run.

He said it was Tomas’s idea to run to raise awareness for Oswego County veterans.

“A lot of people drove by, slowed down, took pictures and cheered us on,” he said of the public’s response on the day of the run.

Matias, a 2005 graduate of G. Ray Bodley High School, joined the Army in December 2008. After training at Fort Benning, Ga. and time in Vicenza, Italy, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

“For me, I kept the fight over in Afghanistan,” Matias said of his reasons for joining the Army. “I didn’t want another 9/11.”

He grew close with his fellow “Sky Soldiers,” as the 173rd is nicknamed.

“It was always about your buddies to the left and to the right of you. Politics aside … when a bullet comes flying by,” he said.

Matias remained in the service for three years before returning home to Fulton. He said his family and friends have always been supportive of his military and civilian careers.

As for reentering civilian life, Matias said a soldier’s life is stressful, no matter where he or she is stationed.

“They didn’t necessarily have to deploy to struggle (with coming back),” he said, “Once that structure’s gone, you need something to keep you busy.”

Matias said he sought veterans resources within the county.

“The VA office in Fulton helped me get back on my feet and work,” he said.

He has considered reenlisting, but for now he is attending classes at Cayuga Community College thanks to the G.I. Bill. He wants to pursue a career in either criminal justice or the medical field, to bring back the “rush” that he misses from being in the Army.

“The only skill I was taught was to engage in combat,” he said. If he reenlists, he said he would want to choose a different field so he could bring home some marketable skills.

A former wrestler for GRB, Matias has been volunteering with his alma mater’s wrestling coaches.

As for the run, Matias and his friends garnered support on social media and plan to repeat the experience for many Veterans Days to come.

“We’re going to keep doing it until our legs fall off,” Matias said.

Fulton Y offering prenatal yoga class

The Fulton Family Y now is offering a Prenatal Yoga class from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Mondays.

Y officials say it is important for both mother and baby for mom to stay fit during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga classes provide a wonderful space for expectant mothers to attune to the child in class and in their lives; to revel in this time of growth and joy and to meet and share with other expectant mothers.

Each class begins with 5-10 minutes of centering and breathing, followed  by warm-ups, yoga pose practice, cool-down, relaxation and a final centering.

Certified instructor Karen Haas, who is a registered yoga teacher with 200 hours of training, will offer options for poses so students can adapt their practice for their level of fitness and experience.

Here are some questions people often have about yoga during pregnancy:

Are there styles of yoga that aren’t recommended for pregnant women?

There are many different styles of yoga — some more strenuous than others. Prenatal yoga and hatha (gentle) yoga are the best choices for pregnant women. If they’re not an option, talk to the instructor about your pregnancy before starting any other yoga class.

Be careful to avoid Bikram yoga, commonly called hot yoga, which involves doing vigorous poses in a room heated to 100 to 110 F (38 to 43 C). Bikram yoga may raise your body temperature too much, causing a condition known as hyperthermia. In addition, ashtanga and other types of power yoga may be too strenuous for women who aren’t experienced yoga practitioners.

Are there special safety guidelines for prenatal yoga?

· Talk to your health care provider before you begin a prenatal yoga program to ensure you have his or her OK.

· Set realistic goals. For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week. However, even shorter or less frequent workouts can help you stay in shape and prepare for labor.

· Pace yourself. If you can’t speak normally while you’re doing prenatal yoga, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard.

· Stay cool and hydrated. Practice prenatal yoga in a well-ventilated room to avoid overheating. Drink plenty of fluids during prenatal yoga to keep yourself hydrated.

· Avoid certain postures. When doing poses, bend from your hips — not your back — to maintain normal spine curvature. Avoid lying on your belly or back, doing deep forward or backward bends, or doing twisting poses that put pressure on your abdomen.

· Don’t overdo it. As you do prenatal yoga, pay attention to your body and how you feel. Start slow and avoid positions that are beyond your level of experience or comfort. Stretch only as far as you would have before pregnancy.

Call the YMCA at 598-9622 to sign up for classes or find out more about the classes we offer by logging onto our website at www.fultonymca.com/

Those interersted also can also connect with the Y on Facebook to get updated information on what the Y has to offer.

 

Meeting on state Common Core educational standards set for Nov. 18

The minority members of the state Assembly education committee are putting on a discussion on the Common Core education standards at 4:30 p.m. Monday Nov. 18 at Charles W. Baker High School, East Oneida Street, Baldwinsville.

Assemblymen Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), Robert C. Oaks (R-Macedon) and Gary D. Finch (R-Springport) will join education leaders to discuss  the implementation of curriculum based on the Common Core standards and other relevant educational topics.

In addition to Barclay, Oaks and Finch, Assemblyman Ed Ra, ranking minority member on the Education Committee and Assemblyman Al Graf, education committee member will attend.

The forum will last about two hours.

Concert features work by SUNY Oswego alum

SUNY Oswego pianist and music faculty member Robert Auler will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, in the Sheldon Hall ballroom, playing a repertoire that will include a work by 2007 alumnus and classical composer George N. “Nick” Gianopoulos.

Gianopoulos was an 18-year-old freshman from Baldwinsville when he took an introductory music course and his first-ever piano lessons at SUNY Oswego — events that helped propel him, now at age 28, to a career as a Los Angeles composer and pianist.

He is composer-in-residence for the LA-based Symbiosis Chamber Ensemble.

Auler will play “Theme and Variations” by Gianopoulos; “Distant Voices,” by Gao Ping, a Chinese composer and friend of Auler’s; a Beethoven piece, “Opus 81A”; and “ Allegro de Concert” by Spanish composer Enrique Granados.

A crescendo for Gianopoulos’ young career came this summer when his “Thirteen Haiku for Singers and Piano” — set to novelist and poet Jack Kerouac’s series of 13 of the vivid, Japanese-style short poems — was commissioned by and performed at a Wolf Trap Opera Company residency program in Vienna, Va., for emerging professionals.

“As a teacher, you hear about a lot about goals and career plans, and you encourage those,” Auler said. “It’s rare to see someone follow through on something so passionately.”

 Alum achiever

On his professional website, Gianopoulos credits Auler for encouraging him to teach, and by his senior year Gianopoulos had developed a 12-student piano studio and worked as a church pianist and organist.

Since graduation, world premieres of his classical works have been performed in Israel and Greece, and the Glendale Philharmonic commissioned his “Sonata for Two Celli.”

Auler said the young composer will be on hand to discuss the work.

“It’s really cool to see what Nick has done,” Auler said, citing Liszt and Rachmaninoff as two key influences for the young composer.

“Nick has added some modern sensibilities to it,” Auler said. “He hasn’t copied the past, he has added his own talents and ideas to make people sit up and say, ‘That’s beautiful.’”

Tickets for this and other performances in the SUNY Oswego music department’s Focus on Faculty Series are $8 ($5 for SUNY Oswego students), and are available at the college’s box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by calling 312-2141.

Parking is included in the price of the ticket and is available in the faculty and commuter lots adjacent to and across Washington Boulevard from Sheldon Hall. People with disabilities needing assistance should call 312-2141 in advance.

2 youth productions set for Nov. 22 and 23

CNY Arts Center announces the debut of two youth productions onstage Nov. 22 and 23 with Drama Club and Kids Onstage.

Both groups have been meeting weekly since mid-September and will present to parents, family and friends in separate performances. Both presentations are Pay-What-You-Can performances open to the public in lieu of tickets and take place at 357 State St. Methodist Church in Fulton. Please use the Park Street entrance.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, Drama Club will present more than 20 students with prepared monologues, skits and some original work. With a generous grant from Shineman Foundation, CNY Arts Center launched a Drama Club for seventh- and eighth-graders in collaboration with the school district.

Students have been studying all aspects of theater from acting to costume design and more. The group will reconvene in January to audition and rehearse a complete play for performance in April.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, the next Kids Onstage production will premiere “Ben and the Magic Paintbrush” for one performance only.

The short play is the culmination of the eight-week children’s theater program and welcomes newcomers Sophie Neveu and Meli Preston alongside returning veterans Griffin Marriner, Kyra Baker, Charlie Stoutenger and Ben Norton.

The adaptation of a Chinese folk tale was written by Bathsheba Doran and tells the tale of orphan siblings peddling for money as a sidewalk artist and living statue. The brave duo fall victim to a corrupt socialite in possession of a magic paintbrush and the adventure begins. The play is presented by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc at www.Playscripts.com.

This is the first production for second-grader Sophie Neveu, who plays the title role of Ben, a sidewalk artist, alongside Meline Preston, also a second-grader, as a statut whose challenge is to stand still.

Returning Kids Onstage members include Griffin Marriner, as the henpecked husband Harold, with several productions to his credit including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and most recently Charlotte’s Web where he played Mr. Zuckerman.

Kyra Baker, plays Harold’s pushy wife Cynthia, and is another veteran Kids Onstage member who has been with CNY Arts Center from the beginning. She was seen first in Yes, Virginia…The Musical, followed by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Helen Keller, and most recently as Fern, in Charlotte’s Web.

Ben Norton, the bumbling policeman, is also in his fourth production with CNY Arts Center having been seen in Yes, Virginia, the Musical, as Sidney in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and most recently as Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web.

Charles Stoutenger rounds out the veterans in the cast as Pierre Robelinsky, a French artiste. Charlie shared the stage in Yes, Virginia…The Musical as a newsie and as Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Kids Onstage will resume in January with a full length production expected in April. For more information on either group or presentation, visit www.CNYArtsCenter.com or call 592-3373.