View from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

Common Core — the new academic standards adopted by 46 states intended to make students ready for college and careers—was put into motion for grades K-12 this school year.

The State Board of Regents adopted Common Core in 2010 in part to secure more federal aid for education. State assessments are now aligned with Common Core.

Beginning this September, teachers in most public school districts across New York were required to teach this brand new curriculum known as the Common Core.

According to the mission statement of, its aim is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

The mission is well intended but, as with many federal mandates tied to federal dollars, there are troubling aspects of Common Core.

Some critics are calling it ObamaCore — a one-size-fits-all model for education. Others are in support of Common Core and want to see it work.

Whether for or against, the consensus is the State of New York could have done a better job implementing these sweeping curriculum changes that affect all grade levels and build on the previous year’s knowledge.

Last week, I hosted a forum in Baldwinsville with some of my Assembly colleagues from throughout the state. We wanted to give the public a chance to submit testimony and provide us with their thoughts on this program. I attended not only as a Legislator, but also as a parent of a fifth- and eighth-grader.

For me, the forum was an opportunity to learn of the concerns of  other parents, teachers, administrators and even a young student. I appreciate all who attended and took time from their schedules to speak and/or submit testimony.

There was a variety of testimony. I’d be hard-pressed to summarize all sentiments in this space but there were many concerns. One thing is clear though: The State Education Department has put the burden on localities to make this work this year, with no phase-in period.

Though New York adopted Common Core in 2010, it wasn’t until late this summer that curriculum became available for teachers through the form of teaching modules. Many at the forum said they received the modules too late to adequately prepare lessons from them. Administrators said they had little time for staff development on the curriculum overhaul.  Also, staff development is expensive and districts say they are strapped for cash and not getting the federal or state aid to cover expenses associated with all of the mandates and teacher evaluations. The public can view the curriculum at

Parents who testified said their children are struggling and suffering with low grades and low self-esteem. Other teachers and parents are concerned with having scripted lessons and measuring a student’s ability based on tests. Some worry about students falling behind and the overall graduation rates.

There seemed to be variations too at the district level. Some districts are adhering strictly to the teaching modules while other teachers and school districts are more loosely following the teaching modules or, in some cases, are preparing their own teaching modules.

Regardless of teaching methods, students will be tested on the same material with the same exams, and their understanding of Common Core.  And teachers are being evaluated based on their ability to teach the brand new curriculum and student test scores.

As you can see, this is complicated. Further dialogue is needed so that either the Legislature or the State Education Department can respond with helpful solutions. Most people agree with having higher standards, however, I too am concerned about the way in which these standards are being implemented. Clearly, we need to slow down. Perhaps we need to delay testing, to give all grades a better chance of learning the material until 2015. Maybe we need to reduce the amount of testing or at least the stakes involved for the students and teachers—so that exam scores are not the sole judge of students’ knowledge and teachers’ ability. As we know, and science has supported with multiple studies, not all students learn the same way.

I invite you to watch some of the testimony recorded at the forum. There are videos from five different panels available to view.

Here are the links. I would invite you to also participate in this dialogue and encourage you to submit letters or emails to my office on this so I can share them with leaders in Albany and the State Education Department.

** Opening Remarks and Superintendents –

** Administrators/SUNY/Chamber –

** Teachers (Part 1) –

** Teachers (Part 2) –

** Parents and Student –

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at or by calling 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

Honor rolls at Fulton Junior High Schools

Fulton Junior High has announced its high honor roll and honor roll for the first quarter.

Grade 7 High Honor Roll

Alice Allen, Dustyn Arroway, Joshua Austin, Dani Avery, Collin Baker-LaBreck, Jada Ballard, Ryan Barry, Maddison Baum, Rachel Bedford, Selene Belrad, Joseph Benavidez, Collin Bennett, Alessandro Berner, Michael Boak, Haley Bort, Holly Bourgeois, McKenna Bourgeois, Caleb Bowen, Nicholas Brown, Wendy Burch, Haley Calkins, Kaleb Carreon, Nicholas Cary, Kelly Caza, Shaylee Cealie, Caleb Clarke, Liam Clary, Montanah Coe, Felicity Couch, Isaac Crandall, Kaitlyn Crandall, Jasmine Criswell, Abigail Cuyler, Aaron Dedich, Andrew Dedich and Anthony DeMasi.

Also: Dylan Demauro, Ryan Denson, Cory Dexter, Kathryn Distin, Alexander Dombroski, Jacob Ely, Abigail Everts, Sarah Fisch, Victor Fischel, Cloe Gagnon, Michael Gilbert, Michaela Grant, Jacob Gugula, Katie Hall, Raiden Hansen, Roy Harvey-Studer, Justin Hatch, Mackenzie Hayden, Emily Hilton, Zachary Hobby, Caleb Hogan, Jenna Hood, Bailey Hourihan, Jacob Hughes, Leah Hulett, Andrew Hyde, Jadelyn James, Domonique Johnson, Devan Ketcham, Luke Kimball, Nora Kingsbury, Evan Kistner, Jacquline Knoblock and Jason Knopp.

Also: Jordan Knopp, Cassady LaBarge, Nathaniel Lindsey, Corey Maher, Kacey Markarian, Katelin Matthews, Jonathan McCann, Lindsay McCraith, Ryan Michaels, Courtney Miner, Taylor Miner, Charles Mitchell, Darian Monaghan, Montana Myhill, Michael Newton, Nicholas Noel, Hailey Nugent, Jacob Parkhurst, Keara Patterson, Aidan Percival, Lane Phillips, Kelsey Pickard, Kyle Ranieri, Haylee Rivera, Elizabeth Roik and Kelsey Rosenbarker.

Also: Killian Rowlee, Elisabeth Russell, Jenna Ruzekowicz, Trevor Schleicher, Destiny Schneider, Christopher Schreck, Katelynn Serio, Faith Sharkey, Eric Shear, Sierra Sheldon, Emily Smith, Ana Snyder, Morgan Stacey, Camille Stevenson, Ean Stevenson, Quynn Sweeney, Chayton Sykes, Steven Thompson, Brendan Todt, Katie Tyrrell, Hayley Vann, Carter Vashaw, Erin Waloven, Conner Ware, Kaylee Waugh, Gage White, Connor Wilde, Cody Wright and Caitlin Zupancic.

Grade 8 High Honor Roll

Olivia Abrams, Marissa Allen, Alfred Arduini, Gabriella Bailey, Zachary Barker-McLain, Justin Barney, Katelynn Belson, Addison Billion, Matthew Borrow, Maura Botsford, Zoie Bowering, Devin Boyce, Gabrielle Boyce, Lillian Bray, Jade Brien, Elizabeth Brown, Gillian Brown, Hannah Burlingham, Jahnyne Carey, Alicia Carroll, Hailey Carroll, Calinda Ceterski, Mckenna Chesbro, Julia Cieszeski, Jenna Coakley, Tyler Coant, Joshua Compson, Sheenvia Conley, Cole Cotton, Jordan Coulon, Breanna Debiew, Kaitlyn Dexter and Nicholas Dingman.

Also: Paige Drake, Hunter Dudley, Ernest Ferro, Austin Fleming, Makayla Florczyk, Meghan Foster, Devon Frank, Morgan French, Jacob Geitner, Michael Gerth, Hannah Gigliotti, Meredith Grimshaw, Julia Guarrera, Megan Guernsey, Abigail Gugula, Jordan Hagan, Brooke Halstead, Cody Hartle, Kira Hartnett, Cassandra Hartranft, Samantha Heywood, Kayleigh Hotaling, Nicholas Hughes, Dustin Huller, Charles Hyland, Jasmine James, Megan Johnson, Nolan Johnon, Mallori Kitts, Tessa Kunath, Ryan Lalik, Madison Lang, Savannah LaPage, Amber LaRosa, Bradley Martin, Jordyn Mason, Caitlyn McAfee, Ana Mendez-Rodriguez, Elver Merida, Annamarie Michels and Alyssa Mt. Pleasant.

Also: Morgan Murphy, Christopher Newton, Erin Nicholson, Anthony Noce, Alexus Pagan, Collin Parker, Cole Parkhurst, Dustin Parkhurst, Courtney Paro, Olivia Pawlewicz, Alexis Phelps, Aricka Phelps, Katerina Porcari, Celeste Raponi, Ethan Raponi, Destiny Rose, Mason Rowlee, Eliza Runeare, Tyler Ruttan, Anthony Salerno, Robert Salerno, Jeremy Samson, Alexander Semchenko, Jessie Sharkey, Ryan Sheffield, Dylan Sheldon and Valentina Shue.

Also: Emily Simpson, Zion Skipper, Cara Smith, Hailey Smith, Tucker Smith, Jesse Smithers, Shannon St. Andrews, Ariel Stacy, Alexander Stoutenger, Nathan Summerville, Maxwell Sunday, Austin Szymanski, Marissa Tanner, Samantha Tanner, Christopher Tetro, Brian Trombly, Andrew Trumble, Janeda Vasquez, Kenneth Verdoliva, Keegan Wallace, Nicholas Wallace, Karina Whitten, Jacob Willcox, Madison Wilson and Andrew Woodruff

Grade 7 Honor Roll 

Owen Ayotte, Taylor Babbitt, Alex Ball, Derrick Bort, Emily Bowers, Bethany Brummett, Jeffrey Button, Kaleb Calkins, Kyler Cashel, Damion Chevier, Joseph Cocozza, Allison Collins, Nathan Collins, Kayla Contois, Rylie Cotton, Chloe Davis, Adam DeMauro, Gage Doyle, Olivia Duca, Maya Ende, Mardivina Escalante-Rodriguez, Jacob Gibbs, Marguerite Grosvent, Ryan Gugula, Timothy Hall, Michael Hartmann, Dorothy Henopp, Thomas Hughes and Korbin Hyde.

Also: Samantha Jodway, Jasmine Malave, Molly Metcalf, Hannah Muckey, Emily Munger, Preston Netzloff, James Norton, Taylor Osborn, Mona Otvos, Alexis Paul, Cody Pittman, Adrieanna Rinn, Ariana Rivera, Kayla Ryder, Makaylee Schmeer, Ethan Serow, Paige Seymour, Brooke Shuster, Jonathan Simpson, Everett Stacy, Abigale Tanner, Emeraldlee Tanner, Kory Tyler, Isaiah Williams

Grade 8 Honor Roll

Ethean Akins, Julia Allen, Coby Anderson, Stephanie Boland, Brandon Brooks, Logan Brooks, Savannah Castle, Michael Cayer, Dominic Conn, Dedrah Crowson, Emily Dana, Mya Decker, Samantha Diezel, James Freeman, Dakota Gilchrist, Cole Green, Brooke Greenier, Brianna Grinnell, Brianna Gugula, Hunter Hall, Mitchell Haskins, Marissa Hayward, Heather Heywood, Mark Hoyt, Randy Huller and Emily Kelly.

Also: Mariah Kenyon, Brittany Kimber, Dylan Kress, Alexis Kurak, Arron LaBeef, Gage LeBlanc, Allison Loomis, Bobbi-Jo Mathews, Jacob May, Reed Mellen, Nicholas Merlino, Trinity Mills, Tayler Miner, Keely Morrison, Mariah Nolin, Nathaniel Paro, Jonathan Parrish, Harlea Perry, Zenia Petrie, Corey Pipher, Julie Piscitelli, Michael Ross, Kaitlynn Ryan, Daronda Scott, Jason Southworth, Kali Spaulding, Austyn Stoughtenger, Matthew Trapasso-Fowler, Joshua VanHorn, James Ward, Kameron Whipple and Annya Yeh.

Light in the Darkness

“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”               

 Ephesians 1:7

Many there are who are unaware of or unwilling to admit their guilt before a Holy God.

But one who has felt the convicting power of the Holy Spirit (who came to ‘convict the world of sin…’) it is doubtful that there is a sweeter word than the word “forgiveness.”

When one understands there is nothing he or she can do to earn or be worthy of forgiveness, but experiences it at the hands of the living God, there is no more wonderful blessing in life.

“Blessed,” as Charles Spurgeon wrote,  “forever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair!”

True conviction and awareness of the depths of one’s guilt stands in awe and amazement that that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, altogether and forever.

Hell is the rightful portion of every sinner and there is no possibility of escape while that sin remains upon me. There is only one way that this sin can be lifted from me; only one means of escape.

It is not through good works; never through  a sincere life devoted to serving ones fellow man or even God, Himself.  Yet Jesus tells us that we may have that burden, that guilt of sin removed forever.

Once again to quote Spurgeon, “Forever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is (already) secured for all who rest in Jesus.”

Jesus offered Himself as the perfect lamb of God, was crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and forever forgiven by virtue of His substitutionary pains and death. He died in my place.

My sins were laid upon Him. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul!

We love Him and long for His return because He first loved us. We serve Him because He served us and our greatest need by sacrificing His all that we might be reconciled to the Father, made children of the most High God and joint heirs with His own Son, Jesus, the Christ.

To experience true forgiveness is to understand there is nothing we could have done or can do but allow our hearts to overflow with gratitude to the one who forgave. A life of worshipful service is the only thing we have to offer the One who paid the price of that forgiveness.

Once again the words of Spurgeon, “I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul”.


Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Debra J. Groom

Managing editor

I would be remiss on this day before the holiday if I didn’t wish all Valley News readers a pleasant and thankful day.

If you are gathering for a great meal with relatives and friends, you are truly blessed.

If you are alone, don’t despair. There are many places to go in the area for companionship and a tasty dinner. Many restaurants are open and a good number of churches or other organizations are putting on community Thanksgiving feasts.

If you have the time and money, stop into a nursing home to drop off some goodies for the hard-working staff or a gift or flowers for a resident. Nursing home residents often cannot leave for holiday festivities, so seeing someone drop in to say hi or “Happy Turkey Day” will really put a smile on their faces.

Share your good fortune by dropping off some doughnuts or bagels to others who work every holiday — namely police, firefighters, ambulance personnel and medical personnel at Oswego Hospital. They are putting in their time to ensure we all are safe and well so we can share this day with our loved ones.

And last but not least, say a little prayer or blessing for all the farmers in Oswego County and Central New York. Without them, none of us would have that fantastic turkey or squash or mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie to gouge ourselves with on Thanksgiving.

While the holiday is a day off for many, a day to eat ‘till you drop and a day for football and parades on TV, remember the day is called “Thanksgiving.” The best thing we all can do is take a moment between complaining about the lumps in the gravy or how that stupid quarterback fumbled that snap, and think about what we are really thankful for this year.

Personally, I am thankful to be back to work. Thankful I am making a paycheck again and don’t have to sell my house. Thankful that Scotsman Media Group gave me a chance at this job.

And I’m thankful to be back in Oswego County again. Having worked here for about six years before losiing my previous job, I am very happy to be back. The people here are one-in-a-million.

The weather, well, that’s another story. Not really excited about all the snow. But hey, maybe it will be a mild winter.

I’d be very thankful for that. (As long as it doesn’t hurt the snowmobile industry up north)

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving.

Preparations ready for Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Representatives of several Fulton Churches and The Salvation Army are busy planning the eighth annual dinner.

Financial donations  are still  needed for this year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner to be held from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28 at the First United Church of Fulton at 33 S. Third St., Fulton.

The free sit down dinner is open to everyone, and features a complete Thanksgiving Dinner and an opportunity for good food and fellowship.

Checks can be sent to the First United Church of Fulton, 33 S. Third St., Fulton, 13069.

The menu includes turkey, potatoes, vegetables, rolls anand homemade pies. Food has been provided by Plainville Turkey Farm, Sysco, Hudson’s Dairy,  Mimi’s Drive In, Renzi Brothers, and Kathy’s Cakes.

There is off-street parking and the church and the facility is handicapped accessible.

News in brief

Trinity United Methodist Church in Oswego will be serving a special benefit all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from 4 a.m. to noon, Black Friday, Nov. 29.

This will benefit a local family who has recently lost a child,  to help defray their medical costs.

The menu includes your choice of pancakes or French toast, sausage, juice, coffee or tea. Extra sides may be purchased as well.

Trinity United Methodist Church is located at 45 E. Utica St., Oswego.

For more information you may call the church at 343-1715.


A Holiday Open House is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo.

Co-owner Kim Enders said atendees will be able to sample recipes using the business’s 100 percent pure maple syrup while browsing through our many gift baskets and maple products for holiday gift giving.

The “Sugarhouse” is decorated for the holiday season and we’ll have complimentary maple coffee to warm you up.


The John C. Birdlebough High School Guidance Department will host an informational session on financial aid and  paying for college at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 in the high school auditorium.

Kathy Flaherty, assistant director of financial aid at SUNY Oswego will present information about the types and sources of financial aid available to undergraduate students and familiarize attendees with how to complete the FAFSA and TAP forms.

She also will discuss how to access grants, loans or work-study options, all of which may help defray the cost of attending college or other accredited program.

For more information, call the guidance department at J.C. Birdlebough High  at 695-1645. The snow date 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5.


Oswego County Hospice will have its annual hospice tree lighting ceremony from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union, Scenic Avenue, Mexico.


Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County is offering two workshops on holiday wreath making.

The first workshop is 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 and the second is 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.

Supplies provided will be a 14-inch wire ring, greens, pinecones and bows.   Participants need to bring a hammer and garden/work gloves are recommended.

The program will be held at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County office at 3288 Main St., Mexico.

Instructor for the two workshops will be Master Gardner Jan Smith. There is a $15 fee per person for this program. Pre-registration with payment is required; make sure you get your reservations in early the workshop does fill quickly.

Both workshops are limited to 10 participants, and only one wreath per registered participant.  To guarantee your spot, call 963-7286.


The West Monroe Historical Society is preparing for its annual wreath sale from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21.

A variety of sizes, types of greens and embellishments are available. The sale hours are noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

You may pre-order your wreath by calling 676-7414 or 668-3780. Horizontal and vertical swags large and small and easels for cemetery use are also offered. Prices range from $10 to $75 for 12 inches to 48 inches.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help make and sell wreaths, call one of the above numbers.


North Volney Methodist Church is sponsoring a Lights of Christmas tree for the upcoming Christmas season.

Lights will be sold for $5 each and can be dedicated to a friend, family member or service member living or deceased. The tree will be lit through the Christmas season on the church grounds at the corner of County Routes 4 and 6 in the Town of Volney.

To purchase a light, send a check for $5 for each name, payable to North Volney UMC along with the list of names to the following address: Beverly Beck, 139 Island Rd., Phoenix, NY  13135.  Questions? Call 593-6825.


The Nu 2 U Christmas sale and Christmas cookie sale at Trinity United Methodist Church is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 at the church.

There will be many kinds of cookies sold by the pound and the Nu 2 U sale will include many gently used Christmas items for gifts and decorations.

Anyone wishing to donate items for the sale may do so between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on or after Dec. 2. You also can call the church at 343-1715.


Central Square Masons and Eastern Star are having a roast beef supper at 4 p.m. Saturday Dec. 7 at the lodge on state Route 49 east of the village.

The menu consists of all-you-can-eat roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, cole slaw, vegetable, dessert, milk, coffe and tea.


The Mexico Historical Society will present its annual Christmas Concert as part of the Christmas in Mexico celebration at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 in the First Presbyterian Church, Church Street, Mexico.

Many fine area musicians including Laura Washburn, Charrie Lehman, Bill Nicholson, Brianna Jessmore, Concinnity and the Mexico Brass will perform.

A cookie reception will follow.


Red Schoolhouse Maple will have a Christmas pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 8 at the maple sugarhouse in Palermo.

The “Sugarhouse” is beautifully decorated, the holiday music is playing and the aroma of maple is everywhere. Enjoy “scratch made” pancakes and pair them with farm raised, locally produced sausage from the Adirondack Beef Co.

Breakfast comes with our famous maple coffee, juice and milk. There also will be maple products available for your gift giving needs.


Lowell and Carol Newvine, historians from Hannibal, presented a program on the Civil War at the Womens Club of Fulton, Oct. 23 at the Lock Restaurant.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and Emancipation Proclamation, Lowell and Carol depicted Hannibal residents, Albert Teague and his wife, Nancy. They read letters that Albert sent to his wife while he was serving in the military. Both Albert and Nancy were Hannibal residents.


The 40th annual Christmas Cantata will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 and 3 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Pennellville United Methodist Church at 389 County Route 54.

There also be a performance at 7 p.m. Sunday Dec. 8 at the Fulton Alliance Church, 1044 State Route 48, Fulton.

The cantata choir will present “On This Shining Night” by Lee Dengler and Susan Naus Dengler. More than 60 voices from at least 20 area churches will participate.

A free-will offering will be taken to help out the Phoenix Food Pantry.

Agency finishes Thanksgiving baskets

Staff and volunteers at Catholic Charities of Oswego County have been busy preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving food basket distribution.

Thanks to donations from concerned community members and area businesses, Catholic Charities’ food pantry will provide more than 300 families with all the fixings for a complete Thanksgiving meal.

“It has been a very challenging year,” said Helen Hoefer, Supervisor of community services at Catholic Charities.

“Thanks to the generosity of Fidelis Care and the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County, who supplied the distribution bags, employees of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s (CENG) Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, who adopted families, and other community members we are able to continue to distribute Thanksgiving food baskets,” she said.

Looking ahead to their Christmas food basket distribution, Hoefer added that Catholic Charities is receiving a large amount of requests this holiday season.

“I encourage those who are able to consider donating non-perishable food items so that we will be able to help as many families as possible this Christmas,” said Hoefer.

For more information on Catholic Charities’ Christmas food distribution contact Helen Hoefer at 598-3980, ext. 224.

Catholic Charities of Oswego County serves all people in need regardless of their religious affiliation.

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