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.

A Sportsman’s World, by Leon Archer

By Leon Archer

I watched the pair of Mallards circle Paul Woodard’s Pond several times as I crouched down next to a Juniper bush being careful not to move, which included resisting the temptation to turn my head to watch them each time they went out of sight.

I was hunting with Lyle Taber, who was trying to look like part of the cement dam where he was huddled as the birds kept trying to decide if everything looked safe.

It was the very first time either of us had ever hunted ducks, but we had read a lot about how to do it, and these were the only birds we had seen that morning.

The pond was only about 150 feet wide and a little over twice as long, held back by an 8-foot-high cement dam that had been built many years before across a small creek at the North end of Sandy Creek, not far from the Oswego County  Fairgrounds in Sandy Creek.

It was hardly a big duck magnet, but before the season opened, we had seen a bird or two on the water on several different occasions. Paul Woodard owned the little pond, and he allowed many of my friends and me to fish there anytime we wished, trap muskrats there in the spring, and even hunt ducks there if we wanted to waste our time.

We were both hoping we weren’t wasting our time that morning. My eyes picked up the birds as they came into view after another circuit of the pond, but this time they didn’t bank around for little lower orbit.

Instead, they took a straight course to the southeast, fast becoming dots low in the sky.

I was about to move out of my uncomfortable crouch and try to see what Lyle was doing, but wisely I still kept my youthful eyes on the nearly invisible birds, and at the very last moment, I noticed that they had veered to the left, and soon I could tell they were on their way back.

It seemed like forever, but then, there they were at the far end of the pond heading right at me. I thought they were going to drop into the pond right below where I was hidden, but instead they swooped up and climbed for altitude, passing above me.

I couldn’t stand it any longer; they were well within range and I had a clear shot at the hen. I swung the double barrel 12-gauge ahead of her, my cheek tight to the stock, and pulled the trigger for the modified barrel.

I felt the recoil, and almost as fast as the roar of the shot had faded, the duck was on its way to join me on the ground. I forgot about the other bird and hot footed it over to when the hen mallard had struck.

It had been a good shot and she had been dead before she hit the ground. I was ecstatic. Lyle, on the other hand, was a little bummed out.

When we got together after I had picked up my bird, he told me he could have shot several times, but he was waiting for them to land so maybe we could get them both.

I told him I was sorry I screwed it up, but I was only lying to make him feel better; I felt about as great as a boy could feel. I can close my eyes and see those birds and that shot as clearly today as I did that beautiful October morning back in 1955.

My father wasn’t much for duck hunting; in fact he never once went with me, but he did give me one piece of advice that has served me very well over my 55-plus years of water fowling.

He told me to always pick out one bird to shoot at even if there was a whole flock of ducks.

“Sure,” he said, “you may sometimes kill a duck if you brown a flock, but more often than not, you will come up empty handed. If you pick out a target instead of trying to kill them all, you’ll do a lot better.”

I asked him why that was when I was shooting a shotgun for Pete’s sake. He looked at me like I was some kind of ignoramus, and his last comment on the topic I will always remember, “Son, there is always a lot more space where they ain’t than where they are, so aim close.”

I hadn’t had to worry about a flock for my first shoot, but the next day when Lyle and I hunted Carter’s Creek near Sandy Pond, I jumped a flock of wood ducks. There must have been 30 panicky woodies filling the air with flapping wings and squealing calls.

They were within reasonable range as I raised the double barrel to my shoulder and proceeded to do exactly what my father warned me not to do.

I didn’t swing, I didn’t get my cheek down on the stock and get a good sight picture, I didn’t pick out a target, I just pointed at the middle of all those ducks and pulled the trigger. Even as I did it, I was wondering what Lyle and I would do with all the extra woodies I was going to kill when I blasted the middle out of the flock, because the limit was one a day back then.

I didn’t have to worry, because as it turned out, I only dropped the very last bird in the flock. I had come extremely close to proving my father right.

I’ve thought many times about that shot I took on the second day of my first fall of duck hunting, and although I actually did get a beautiful drake wood duck, I realized it was just plain luck.

I actually have never flock shot since that day. I’ve shot birds out of a flock; I nearly always got the one I would be aiming at, but sometimes I brought down an additional bird as well. I have grown to prefer shooting at single birds, and if I find a flock in front of me, I try to pick one off away from the main group if possible.

Over the years I have made some memorable multiple shots, and the one I remember most was the day I had a big flock of mallards respond to my call and my decoys.

There was no one else in the swamp to scare them, and I let them come right in until with feet down they were nearly on the water. As I stood, I knew there was a trio of drakes in line across formation directly in front of me at about maybe 20 yards.

I pulled onto them before they could flare, pulling the trigger as my barrel moved ahead of their bills. Two birds that were behind the trio caught my attention as they began climbing for altitude, almost as one, and my second shot knocked them from the air.

I looked for another shot and a single was racing off to the right about 40 yards out when I shot, dumping the bird at the edge of the cattails. I love it when a plan all comes together.

Three well aimed shots in a lot less time than it took to tell about them, left me with six fat mallards floating in the little pothole. I have never had a better opportunity nor shot better than I did that day.

My advice for new duck hunters is, let them get as close as possible, pick out a bird, and aim small. It works for a lot more than ducks too.

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