Oswego schools alive with the sounds of holiday music

This is the time of year for Oswego school district students to display their musical talents.

All concerts are open to the public.

Here is a concert list:

7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9, Fitzhugh Park band, orchestra and chorus

7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, Kingsford Park band, chorus and orchestra

7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, Charles E. Riley band, chorus and orchestra

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, Oswego Middle School choral

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, Oswego High School orchestra

7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, Oswego High School choral

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, Oswego Middle School band and orchestra

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, Oswego Jazz Band

Honor Society offers peer tutoring at G. Ray Bodley High

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

The National Honor Society Chapter at G. Ray Bodley High School offers free academic assistance to students at the school through a tutoring program.

The peer-assistant program is managed by honor society member volunteers and is offered three days per week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — during the students’ 22-minute guided study hall block.

Students in grades nine through 12 can receive hands-on help through the tutoring program in several subject areas including algebra, geometry, English, social studies, science, French, German and Spanish.

Honor Society Adviser Nate Fasulo oversees the tutoring program and said it is mutually beneficial for both the tutors and the students.

It increases student collaboration as well as reinforces essential college and career-readiness skills such as independence and accountability.

“We encourage our students at GRB to utilize any and all academic recourses to be successful in school,” Fasulo said.

“Our honor society student-tutors are a great resource for students needing some hands-on help with homework or understanding course content,” he added.

For the honor society students, peer-tutoring provides an excellent opportunity to help with interpersonal skills and face-to-face communication skills.

In addition, the students’ participation in the peer-tutoring program fulfills a portion of their NHS community service requirements.

To maintain membership in National Honor Society at G. Ray Bodley, students must participate in at least 12 volunteer hours during a school year.

Through the peer-tutoring program, honor society members can earn up to one hour of volunteer service each school week.

Learning’s a blast at Lanigan Elementary

Sixth-graders at Lanigan Elementary School are having a real ‘blast’ in class this school year.

The students, turned budding scientists, tackled an out-of-this-world science project where they each crafted and launched their very own rocket.

The school’s sixth-grade teachers coordinate a rocketry project each year in conjunction with the classroom study of Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion:

An object at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it and conversely, an object in motion will stay in motion unless an external force acts upon it.

Force is equal to mass times acceleration of an object; and

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The students construct model rockets over the course of several school days using kits from the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Science Center.

The teachers then host a NASA-inspired launch day for the students.

Parents are invited to join the students for their launch day.

Many of the younger grade levels at the school join the excitement as spectators.

Fulton school district staff brainstorms ways to boost graduation rate

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

With a focus on student achievement, Fulton City School District teachers and support staff recently met to discuss factors that contribute to students meeting graduation requirements.

With this was discussion of boosting the graduation rate.

The fall staff development day provided an opportunity for school personnel to examine some of the root causes as to why some students do not finish high school in four years.

Teachers, guidance counselors, school-home liaisons and special education counselors from kindergarten through 12th grade studied student data in a comprehensive way.

“We wanted to look and identify with our student support staff … just what were some of the barriers to kids completing (high school),” said Geri Geitner, Fulton district director of student support programs.

“So we brainstormed that and then we looked at specific kids from the time they entered our district all the way through. We had all of their information and data, and identified for each kid where we started to see things fall apart.,” she said.

A wide variety of factors played roles in student achievement, according to the data collected during the staff development day.

Academic, behavioral, social, emotional, family and attendance issues were all identified as factors that influenced the outcomes.

Geitner said staff members not only looked at when those issues started to surface, but they also discussed some of the preventive strategies that are working for students facing similar circumstances.

“We looked at kids with similar risk factors that had graduated and (examined) what made them successful and how they were able to overcome barriers and complete their high school graduation requirement,” Geitner said.

“We looked at the kids who didn’t pass Regents exams and attendance was really the common factor,” said G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.

She noted that students who missed 15 days or more were among those who had the most difficulty.

Another subgroup, those who are categorized as having low socioeconomic status, also struggled to earn a diploma on time, Parkhurst said.

To address some of the issues identified as risk factors, the district has conducted thorough training and development using the work of renowned educators Eric Jensen and Ruby Payne.

“We’ve done extensive professional development around both of those researchers and have focused on strategies for implementing some of their (recommendations) school wide and district wide,” Geitner said.

In addition to holding staff development days and utilizing the research developed by respected educators, the district has implemented its own strategies to boost the graduation rate as well.

“We’re really trying to implement the response to intervention framework … to monitor progress, identify students who are struggling and trying to put corrections in place as soon as those challenges come to light,” Geitner said.

Parkhurst noted there are also credit recovery and grade recovery options for students who have fallen behind.

Teachers offer assistance after school and there are tutoring options available to help students stay on track.

While there are plenty of options available to help students succeed, one of the more unique strategies was implemented last year with the introduction of college and career readiness portfolios.

The electronic portfolios began with seventh-graders in 2012-13 and serve as a goal-setting initiative.

“It gets them thinking about their long-term goals earlier on … engaging them in that conversation,” Geitner said. “Each year the students have a different section of the portfolio to complete. (It includes) objectives and information about career and college options.

“They can print it out and use it for their own benefit if they were to apply for a job, to enter the military or to apply for college, so they can use them for their long-term planning,” she said.

With an intense focus on student achievement and improving the graduation rate, Fulton school administrators are confident the right strategies are in place and staff development days serve a key role in helping the district meets it goals.

“One of the biggest benefits (of the recent staff development day) was that it was a K through 12 approach, so that kind of collaboration was very beneficial,” Geitner said.

“We gained a lot of insight from the elementary and middle school staff to supplement what the secondary and high school staff knew about the kids when they were here, so that was really helpful,” she said. “It also helped us focus on areas where we could continue to improve and grow our transitions, not just between junior high and high school, but transitions all the way along.”

Site-based teams in Fulton school district talk student improvement

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Aligned with the Fulton City School District’s shared decision making model and in conjunction with efforts to maintain a continuous cycle of improvement, district officials and the board of education once again hosted a district-wide meeting for members of each school building’s site-based team.

Site-based teams from each school building are comprised of parents, community members, students, teachers and/or administrators.

Each team meets regularly throughout the school year and then participates once a year in a district-wide meeting to discuss efforts that support improvement and student achievement as well as enhance the school and community connection.

Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch was joined by Betsy Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment, for a “state of the school district” address during the annual meeting.

The pair reviewed student performance, the programs and offerings available to students in the district and information about the school improvement plans developed for each school building by the stakeholders of that building.

Attendees also discussed college and career readiness and what that looks like at each building and at each grade level.

“We used to say ‘our mission is to get students to graduate.’ It’s so much more than that now,” Conners said during the meeting. “We are preparing them for life, a career, and more,” she added.

Tied to the college and career readiness theme during the meeting was a discussion about the Common Core Learning Standards.

“The best thing about Common Core is that it forces kids to think, debate and discuss. It’s not about regurgitating material,” Conners said as she spoke about the need to educate students today for careers that do not even exist yet.

District officials also talked about the 2014-15 budget process and what to anticipate in the year ahead in relation to state and federal funds to support education and sustain current offerings and opportunities for students.

Since the implementation of the shared decision-making process, the input, thoughts, questions, and ideas from school site-based teams have led to changes and improved opportunities for all students in the Fulton district.

For more information about the site based-team at your child’s school, call the building principal.

Fulton Mites hockey plays first game against Oswego

The Fulton Mite Hockey team, sponsored by B&T Sports and Dunkin’ Donuts, played its first game of the season versus the Oswego Mite C and B teams.

Raider Cameron Shutts scored for his team while Simon Bradshaw, Cassie Clarke and Aiden Tetro played solid on offense. Defenders Jordan Devendorf and Zoey DeRocha spoiled numerous attempts by the Bucs. Reese Calkins and Daniel Devendorf were applauded for their efforts, sending several fine shots on net.

The Fulton Mites are led by head coach Jerry Devendorf and assistant Mike Tetro. Pictured is Mite Reese Calkins reversing the puck in  a recent game against Oswego at Fort Ontario. There is no final score because officials do not keep score at the Mite level.

Hannibal boys’ varsity basketball team wants to play in the sectionals

By Rob Tetro

The Hannibal boys’ varsity basketball team will take the court with just a few goals for the upcoming season.

Coach Mat Burridge said his team wants to be a team that has scholar athletes, shows improvement on a daily basis and is in position to qualify for Sectional Play at the end of the regular season.

This season, the Warriors will be without many of the players who produced offensively for them a year ago. Hannibal will feature only two starters from last years’ team.

However, both players have two years of experience playing at the varsity level and will be assisted by the presence of two others who played for the Warriors last season.

In-season practice began for Hannibal Nov. 11. Many players had recently concluded fall sports such as football and cross country. But Burridge points out that just because his players were physically capable of playing one sport doesn’t mean that they will be immediately prepared for basketball season.

In fact, such was the case for his team when practices began. During the first few days of practice, his team was not in very good physical condition. Since then, the Warriors have spent a lot of time developing their physical condition with a lot of running in order to be ready for what can be a long and vigorous season.

Burridge suggests his team’s overall physical conditioning isn’t quite where he expects it to be. However, he does feel that his team’s physical conditioning is coming along. “We are not where we want to be but we are progressing.”, Burridge said.

Burridge is yet to name captains for the upcoming season.  However, he makes it known that he expects his captains to be players who lead by example on and off the court.

He also suggests that leadership isn’t defined by what grade a player is in or how much skill he has. “You don’t have to be a senior or the best player to be a captain but a leader.”, Burridge said.

Hannibal plays in Class B, Section 3 which is considered one of the toughest leagues in all of New York State Basketball. Burridge expects to see his team challenged to the max every time they take the court this season. “Every game (will be) difficult and any team can win in our league on any given night.”, he said.

The Warriors are expected to be one of the taller teams in their league this season. Burridge hopes having a height advantage in most games will help Hannibal develop its defensive abilities into a pivotal strength.

“We are hoping our defense can be our anchor this year and be our strong point.”, he said. “Defense will keep us in every game this year.”

Fulton girls’ basketball young this year

By Rob Tetro

Fulton girls’ varsity basketball coach Derek Lyons knew he had his hands full when practices began Nov. 11.

A year ago, Fulton bid farewell to five experienced seniors. This season, the Lady Raiders will have 11 players on the team, many of them have yet to play a minute at the varsity level.

Lyons said with so many new faces to the team, part of his job has been to have the team in a bit of a reloading mode. However, there is also a part of Lyons’ job that has been business as usual as he builds a winning girls’ basketball program.

The most important goal Lyons and his team have this season is to show improvement on a daily basis. Yet, it’s the second goal he and his team have for this season that shows just how important it is to Lyons that the program continues to move in the right direction.

He feels it’s also important for his team to work hard to have a chance to play in the sectional playoffs this season. Lyons points out a trip to postseason play would allow his team to expand on its goals for the season.

Fulton appears to have a very young team headed into the 2013-14 season. Lyons said his team returns only one starter from last year’s team. Two freshmen are expected to earn starting positions.

The other players on the team are making the transition from JV to varsity basketball this season.

Lyons made it known he expected his players to be in solid physical condition when practices began. Given how physically challenging he knew his practices were, Lyons would be able to tell who was physically prepared and who still needed work.

Fulton begins practice by doing 35-40 minutes of nonstop full court conditioning work. The reasoning behind Lyons wanting his players to do these drills goes beyond wanting them to be in the best physical condition they can be in.

He knows if his young team is going to be competitive this season, it will have to be able to beat their opponents up and down the court.

The teams’ physical conditioning is currently improving. In fact, following a recent scrimmage, the Lady Raiders had little conflicts related to fatigue which Lyons considers to be a very positive sign.

“If they can go through a game and say, man, this is easy compared to what we do in practice, I think we are doing something right.”, he said.

Lyons has named Michaela Whiteman, Nicole Hansen and Sydney Gilmore team captains for the upcoming season. Lyons said the players who display a strong work ethic, earn the respect of her teammates with positive encouragement  and succeed in the classroom are players who had the best chance at being named a captain.

Fulton will face some pretty impressive opponents throughout the season. The Lady Raiders will play the likes of Class B powerhouses Skaneateles and Cazenovia and Corcoran from Class AA. Of course, they also will face Class A powerhouses Jamesville-DeWitt and Christian Brothers Academy.

Yet, Lyons suggests his team is excited to be taking on the challenges that await them. As Lyons works to continue to build his program, he feels playing teams that appear in sectional playoffs year after year is a great opportunity for his younger players.

The Lady Raiders have a chance to come away from this potentially daunting schedule with a better understanding of what needs to be done for the program to grow.

Lyons suggests feels his team’s youth and energy could play to Fulton’s advantage. While previous teams have lost to the likes of J-D and CBA, Lyons young team hasn’t had those experiences yet.

“Who knows, they might just come out and be all over the place (and play well).”, Lyons said.

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