Welcome to "Notes from the Principal," an online newsletter to the community from Dana West Junior-Senior High School Principal Michael Jorgensen. To receive these notes from the Mr. Jorgensen as they come out, please click here.
March 23, 2018
On Tuesday night, we held our annual National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society induction ceremonies. This year, 25 new members were recognized for their academic excellence, for their service contributions to our school and community, for their willingness to be student leaders, and for their overall good character.
Each new inductee was introduced by a current honor society member. The introductions included many of the accomplishments each of the new members had attained throughout the course of the past several years. After listening to the introductions, it is clear these students are not just stars in the classroom, but they are great people, as well.
The list of inductees is below.
National Honor Society
National Junior Honor Society
We are proud of these students and we are looking forward to adding members to this prestigious group in the years ahead.
Have a great weekend!
March 16, 2018
On Wednesday morning, members of our student government planned and led an assembly for our entire school to pay tribute to the 17 victims from the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students read a short biography for each of the fourteen students and three staff members who lost their lives a month ago. This was followed by moment of silence that lasted for 17 seconds.
Last week, while planning for the assembly, those involved thought that it was important to pay respect to those who had been killed in the school shooting. They thought it was equally important to share a positive message as well. The students selected a short video to play that focused on the positive impact that tiny acts of kindness can have on the people we come into contact with each day.
The assembly concluded with a powerful speech made by Amanda Chuttey. Amanda is a senior at our high school. She will graduate in the Top 10 of her class and she is a three-sport varsity athlete. While her accomplishments in the classroom, on our sports fields, and on the basketball court have been impressive, the three minutes she took to address her school was incredible.
Amanda began by explaining that we are a "small school" when you compare our enrollment numbers to other schools. She recognized the positives of being in a "small school" when she explained that she knew every student in her senior class, all 84 of them. Amanda admitted to not taking advantage of the opportunity she had to interact with her classmates. Amanda said, "I can honestly say that I am part of the crowd that willingly takes her earbuds out when she walks by a teacher, just to put them back in after they've walked by. Iâ€™ve pulled out my phone and pretended to text someone to avoid having to make conversation."
But, Amanda said she could do better. She knows that we all could do better. Amanda referred to the video we watched during the assembly and encouraged her classmates to take the time to do something nice at least once each day. Paraphrasing her closing comments would diminish what she actually said, so here is what she said:
"Once is all it takes. One compliment. One smile. One word of encouragement. And from there it's a domino effect. Kindness, positivity and laughter are contagious. They spread like wildfire when you give them the fuel to do so. We are the fuel! All 512 of us in this room. Today is a day to stand up for what you believe in, to make your voices be heard. Today is about moving forward, about joining together as a school and focusing on what we have and what has always been ours. Doing what we can do to make our school a more friendly, positive, and safe place to learn and grow. We are the building blocks. We're the difference makers. We are the close-knit school where some of the smallest things can make a world of difference. We can start a new trend. All it takes is one word, one smile, one compliment. If everyone is willing to join in, to take the step forward, to do the little things, thatâ€™s what makes us powerful. That is what makes us a "big school".
I couldn't agree with Amanda more. Letâ€™s all try to do something nice for someone every day.
Have a great weekend!
March 9, 2018
I went to the movie theater for the very first time when I was five years old. My mother and father were out of town, so our babysitter brought us to the Fingerlakes Mall to see Annie. My brothers and I were mildly disappointed because we really wanted to see E.T. But, because E.T. was rated P.G. and Annie was rated G, our babysitter made the decision for us.
So even though we grumbled a bit while we waited in line, we were still very excited once we entered the theater. I can't remember all of the details from the first time I saw Annie, but I know we had a great time. I'm also not sure how many times I have watched it since, but a couple of years ago, I sat on the couch with Ella, Ava, and a big bowl of popcorn the first time they saw Annie. They loved it.
I am not conceited enough to believe any of you care about the first time I went to the movies or a time I watched a musical at home with my two oldest daughters. I do, however, hope that I am able to spend time with many of you the next time I see Annie.
Next week, more than 70 Port Byron students will perform Annie for this year's spring drama production. Based on the popular comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" by Harold Gray, Annie is about a charismatic and determined young girl in Depression-era New York City. Stuck in an orphanage, Annie sets out to find her long-lost parents and through her adventures, she finds a new home and family.
Shows will be at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17 in the Dana L. West auditorium. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for students and senior citizens. All tickets will be on sale at the auditorium door prior to each show.
Our students have worked extremely hard to prepare for this fantastic show. I hope to see everyone there next week!
Enjoy your weekend!
March 2, 2018
On Tuesday morning, I had the honor to announce the valedictorian, salutatorian, and overall top 10 students for the Class of 2018. Of all the great things I get to do each day, recognizing students for academic excellence is always one of my favorite responsibilities.
Abbey Vincent is the valedictorian this year. She has already been accepted to Purdue University and Penn State University. She is still waiting to hear from a handful of other great schools, so she will have a difficult decision to make this spring. Abbey is not just a star in the classroom. She has been a member of the varsity field hockey and varsity volleyball teams. Abbey is a talented musician and she participates in student government, Panther Press Live, and she is a member of our robotics team.
Caitlin O'Brien is the class of 2018 salutatorian. Although she is still waiting to hear back from some incredible schools for next year, Caitlin has already been accepted to the University of Notre Dame. Caitlin is the president of student government and a three-sport varsity athlete (soccer, volleyball, track and field).
Below is the entire Top 10 for the class of 2018:
1. Abigail Vincent (Valedictorian)
2. Caitlin O'Brien (Salutatorian)
3. Kristen Sevilla
4. Sarah Mapley
5. Hannah Martens
6. Amanda Chuttey
7. Brianne Harkness
8. Makenna Guarnieri
9. Allison Ryan
10. Kelcie Cordway
Student rank is based on their weighted grade point averages. They have taken the most rigorous courses we offer, including several advanced placement and college courses. We are proud of their accomplishments and we look forward to hearing about their successes in the future.
Have a great weekend!
Feb. 9, 2018
The winter sports season is winding down and our teams are finishing up some incredibly successful athletic campaigns.
Last night, our volleyball knocked off previously unbeaten Little Falls in their sectional quarterfinal match. The Lady Panthers fell behind to Sauquoit Valley earlier this week in the first round of sectionals, but they battled back to win in five games. Their successful regular season prepared them for these postseason contests, and next week the girls will move on to the semifinals to face either Mount Markham or Beaver River. Keep it going girls!
Our wrestlers have achieved both team and individual success during the 2017-18 season. A couple of weekends ago, the wrestling team clinched the Patriot League championship while competing at the Onondaga High School League (OHSL) tournament in Cato.
Last weekend, our wrestlers battled in Cooperstown and four members of the team are moving on compete at sectionals at the SRC Arena on Saturday. We are extremely proud of Joe Powers, Tyler Parker, Ike Svitavsky and Jack Smith, who will head to Onondaga Community College to represent our school district.
Bowling sectional championships are today for the girls and tomorrow for the boys. This past weekend at Interscholastic Athletic Conference (IAC) Championship tournament, Mitch Hamel had the tenth highest series for the boys. He bowled a 225, 192 and 209, rolling to a total of 606. Jada Kimball had the sixth highest series for girls with a total score of 560. She bowled a 170, 143 and 247. Colleen Jump had the fifteenth highest series with a 510. Overall, the girls' team finished second place and the boys' team finished in third place.
Last night, the boy' basketball team lost a tough battle against Weedsport, but they will look to bounce back at their last regular season game on Monday night against Onondaga. Monday's game will also be the senior recognition ceremony. The boys' team has already qualified for postseason play, so they will fight for a win to improve their seeding for the upcoming sectional tournament.
We cannot talk about the boys' basketball team's success without crediting the cheerleading team for their relentless support. Our cheerleaders have worked hard to "pump up" the Panther Pit at each home game. Their school spirit and loud encouragement does not go unnoticed.
The Lady Panther Basketball team has also qualified for sectionals. They wrap up their regular season tonight against Southern Cayuga. It will also be the final home game for a handful of hard working seniors. Their dedication to the basketball program will be missed.
It has been a pleasure to watch our student athletes compete against their opponents over the past several weeks. Mr. Brown, Mr. Ford and Mrs. Slayton deserve special recognition for all of the work they do behind the scenes, in the athletic department, to ensure practices and games are scheduled. They also work with Mr. Rooker to arrange roundtrip transportation to games.
I also want to thank all of our coaches, parents and students who support our teams throughout their athletic seasons.
Have a great weekend! Go Panthers!
Feb. 2, 2018
We have officially passed the halfway point of the school year and are one week into the marking period. Next week, Mr. Brown and I will meet with each grade level to recognize our honor roll students. We will also review expectations for the second half of the school year and encourage all students to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them at school.
I am proud that we will be recognizing over 35 percent of the student body for having a qualifying grade point average to make honor roll or high honor roll lists. At the same time, there are several students who will receive their report cards and see that they did not pass a course, or several courses, during the second quarter.
While intellectual ability is surely a factor that influences academic achievement, there are several other factors that can impact whether or not a student has success at school. Students who have developed key learning skills and techniques are more likely to be successful than student who have not. These key skills include strategies for improving time-management, organization, note-taking, and studying.
Attendance is also crucial for academic success. The New York State Department of Education defines chronic absenteeism as "missing at least 10 percent of school days" in a year. At this point in the school year, any student who has missed nine or more days of school would be considered chronically absent. We never want students to come to school when they sick and carrying contagious colds or the flu, therefore it is incredibly important to make sure your children are here whenever they are healthy enough to be at school.
As a parent, it is helpful if you monitor your child's progress on SchoolTool. It is also important to reach out to your child's teachers or guidance counselor if you notice their grades are not where they should be. There are several supports we can put in place to help your child be successful at school.
Kiara Barth, Kasey Cioffa, and Chelsea Rooker have been selected for the Roberts Wesleyan Honors Choir Festival. Next weekend, Feb. 9, they will go to Roberts Wesleyan College for the weekend to rehearse with other talented high school students from across the state. These students are recommended for the festival by teacher and NYSSMA solo festival scores. The festival ends with a concert on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2:30 p.m. in the Cultural Life Center Hale Auditorium on Roberts Wesleyan's campus. The festival is free and open to the public.
Attention all drama club parents:
Our second set build is Saturday, Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stage crew is required to attend, and it is highly encouraged that all cast members attend, since drama club is more than just being on stage. We want all students to learn about the many elements that are required for a successful production. We will be painting, designing, building, and organizing props and costumes, so we encourage students to wear old clothes. If you have sports practice, come when you are not in practice. All parents that want to help out are also welcome!
Have a great weekend!
Jan. 26, 2018
Next Saturday, two of our students will be participating in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Area All-State Winter Festival in Ithaca, New York. After a highly selective process that included traveled to West Genesee High School to perform a solo in front of a judge, seniors Abby Vincent and Emma Redmond have been chosen to represent our school.
Abby will be a performing with the Mixed Chorus. Emma was selected as a member of the Treble Chorus. Both groups are made up of talented 10th -12th grade students from Cayuga, Onondaga, Cortland, Tompkins, Tioga and Broome counties.
Both Abby and Emma have performed at the All-State level in the past. Abby played oboe in last year's Area All-State event. A few years ago, Emma was chosen to perform in the Area All-State Junior High Choir. If you see Abby, Emma, or Miss Paige Williams, please congratulate them on this tremendous accomplishment.
Both students will participate in rehearsals all day Friday and most of Saturday morning to prepare for Saturday afternoon's concert. The Winter Festival, held at Ithaca High School, begins at 2 p.m. The cost for attending is $7 for adults and $5 for students.
Great job Abby and Emma! We are proud of you!
Have a great weekend!
Jan. 19, 2018
Over the past few years, Mr. O'Brien has started the tradition of using the district's Twitter account to recognize our seniors as they begin to receive their acceptance letters from colleges and universities.
This past weekend, he began to recognize the students in this year's senior class. The list of schools our students have been accepted into is incredible. Especially when you take into account the size of our small community.
The list of colleges and universities includes:
Alfred State College
York College of PA
St. John Fisher College
University of Notre Dame
Roberts Wesleyan College
Albany College of Pharmacy
Paul Smith's College
University of Central Florida
West Virginia University
University at Buffalo
Penn State University
The list will continue to grow over the coming weeks. While each individual student deserves most of the credit for these tremendous personal accolades, the entire community should feel a sense of accomplishment. All stakeholders (parents, teachers, support staff, coaches, community members) play a role in helping our students grow from bright-eyed kindergarteners to high school graduates. The list of schools above provides some evidence that we are part of nurturing learning environment that creates wonderful opportunities for our students.
Have a great weekend!
Jan. 12, 2018
I often use this space to focus on one specific topic or an upcoming or recent event. This week's eNews will touch on a handful of â€œodds and ends that impact our students and their families at Dana L. West Jr.-Sr. High School.
The NYS January Regents examinations will be administered from Monday, January 22 through Thursday, January 25. If your child is scheduled to take an exam during the January testing period, please remind them to take advantage of the remaining review sessions offered by our teachers. If your son or daughter needs another copy of the review class schedule, they are available in the guidance office.
With only two weeks left until the end of the second marking period, it is a great time to use SchoolTool to take a look at your child's progress over the past ten weeks. Often times, poor grades in a class are a result of not turning in assignments. Please encourage your child to communicate with their teachers and use the academic support periods (Advisory and 10th Period) to get caught up with their work before the end of the quarter.
A special event will be held at our school on Sunday night. "An Evening of Inspiration and Entertainment" featuring Purple Heart recipient and two-time Paralympian, Melissa Stockwell, and national recording artist, Mary Sarah, will begin at 5 p.m. in the Dana L. West Auditorium. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at ticketfly.com. Advance sale tickets are $23 and tickets at the door will be $28. All proceeds will benefit the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. I hope to see you there!
Have a great weekend!
Jan. 5, 2018
Each year, Mrs. McAulliffe and Mrs. St. Pierre, submit student artwork to the CNY Scholastic Art Competition. The Scholastic Art Competition is the nation's largest annual art competition and has been recognizing talented high school students throughout the nation since 1923.
Over 80 schools in the Central New York region participated in this year's competition and there were thousands of pieces submitted. The artwork is judged by area art teachers, professional artists, and professional photographers over multiple days to determine award winners.
Earlier this week, we received word that four of our students were honored for their outstanding artwork at the CNY Scholastic Art Competition. I am extremely proud to share the winners form Port Byron with you today. The award winners are listed by the award they received. Each student's name, grade level, the category of their work, and the title of their work are included below.
Gold Key Winner (First Place):
Katelyn Cordway, Grade 12, Drawing, "Owl in the Oak Tree"
Silver Key Winner (Second Place):
Taylor Moore, Grade 10, Ceramics, "Scarlet Rose"
Mitchell Walsh, Grade 12, Drawing, "Lemon"
Marissa Recckio, Grade 12, Ceramics, "Dark and Twisty"
As a Gold Key Award recipient, Katelyn's work will go on to be judged at the national Scholastic Art Competition.
I's also like to recognize Mrs. McAuliffe and Mrs. St Pierre, two of our talented art teachers, for working with our students and encouraging them to submit their pieces to the art competition.
The Scholastic Art Awards are extremely competitive. There were dozens of incredible pieces of artwork submitted by all of our talented students in Port Byron that fell just short of receiving awards. If you are in the building for other events, please take the time to look at the art showcases located throughout the building. I am amazed at the quality of work produced by our students each year.
The artwork and these awards are another reminder of the great things that happen in our school each day!
Have a great weekend!
Dec. 15, 2017
As you know, last week we worked with local police agencies to sweep our building for illegal drugs. We have done multiple searches of the high school over the past year and we will continue to schedule them in the future. No matter how many K9 sweeps we do, we recognize the best way to keep illegal substances out of our school is to educate our students about the dangers of drug use.
Next week, we are bringing a nationally-recognized speaker to our school to help our students better understand the dangers of illegal drug use. For over 20 years, Matt Bellace has been traveling the country as a professional speaker and stand-up comedian. Dr. Bellace has a PhD in clinical neuropsychology, which is the study of the brain and behavior. He is the author of the book, "A Better High," co-author of the National Geographic Kids Series, "This or That," and was a regular on truTV's, "World's Dumbest." Matt's presentation to our school will focus on natural highs and making healthy choices. I am looking forward to welcoming him to our school and hearing his important message.
Since this is the last enews before our break, I wanted to take the time to wish all of our students, families, and community members a happy and healthy holiday season. Enjoy the extra time with your friends and families. We had a great 2017 and I am looking forward to an even better 2018!
Dec. 8, 2017
The best learning experiences occur when our students have an opportunity to participate in relevant, authentic learning activities.
Recently, Mrs. Clark's Spanish classes participated in an activity that focused on the impact Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico. Mrs. Clark chose one of her classes to extend their learning by brainstorming ways our community could help the people in Puerto Rico who are still without homes, electricity, or clean water. The end results of their project may end up helping thousands of people who are still recovering from the devastation that occurred in late September.
Instead of presuming ways they could be of service, this group of students chose to write a letter, in Spanish, to the Commissioner of Education in Puerto Rico. In the letter, the class asked what they could do to help the thousands of Puerto Ricans whose lives were negatively impacted by Hurricane Maria.
Several days later, our students received a letter back from Commissioner Julia B. Keleher. The letter was also written in Spanish. Together, the class translated the letter they received. In her response, she thanked our students for their generous gesture of help and for their willingness to look for ways to help others who are living through difficult times as a result of a natural disaster. Commissioner Keleher also identified several items that would be of great assistance to those in need.
After reading her response, the class decided they would like to organize a fundraising effort focused on raising funds to purchase at least 200 solar lamps and chargers. Each lamp or charger costs approximately $25. The class has reached out to several local organizations to help with their efforts. I will share dates and times of fundraising events to you as soon as the information becomes available.
We are proud of Mrs. Clark and the students who are working on this project. Their efforts will be felt far outside the walls of our school. Lost in all of this great service work, our students were able to work on expanding their knowledge of the Spanish language while writing and translating the letters sent back and forth to Puerto Rico. I cannot think of a more relevant and authentic learning experience for our students.
Have a great weekend!
Dec. 2, 2017
Our official sunset time yesterday was 4:33 p.m. That is a far cry from the 8:30 p.m. sunsets we experienced last June. During the winter season, many of us enter and exit work while it is still dark. Itâ€™s a tough time of year for me, because my favorite outdoor activities (golf, hanging out by the pool) cannot be enjoyed in the dark or when temperatures hover around or below freezing.
While it is certainly darker outside during the winter, the lights inside our school shine bright on most evenings over the next few months. The winter sports and holiday concert season has begun and our building is bustling with community members each night.
This week alone, we hosted multiple volleyball matches for each of our teams (modified, junior varsity, and varsity). The modified basketball teams played two games at home (and one on the road). Next week, we host games for all of basketball teams (boys and girls), our wrestling team, and the volleyball teams. In addition, our choirs and bands will perform at the annual holiday concert on Tuesday evening.
All of our scheduled events are posted on the school's website. You can find most school activities listed by scrolling through the "Events Calendar" located on the left side of the district homepage. All of our sporting events are posted on "Schedule Galaxy." That link can be found below the Events Calendar.
The next time you are feeling a little "cabin fever" due to the cold weather or early sunsets, take a peek at the school website and see if there are any events being hosted at school. There is a good chance you will have a couple of options to root on our sports teams or hear our students perform as members of the school band and choir.
Have a great weekend!
Nov. 17, 2017
My oldest daughter, Ella, celebrated her 11th birthday this week. It is amazing how fast time flies by. Trying to find the perfect birthday gift for a "preteen" can be difficult. It used to be easy. My wife and I could find a couple of the latest toys, wrap them up, and we were certain to be "rock stars" when she opened her presents.
This year, the gift she really wanted was an iPhone. A handful of her friends have smartphones already, but shortly after bringing up the topic, my daughter realized that mom and dad weren't budging. That being said, my wife and I know the day is coming sooner rather than later.
Honestly, a smartphone will eventually become as much of a need as a want. As landlines and home phones move closer and closer to extinction, we will need a way to contact our daughter when she is able to stay home on her own. She will need to be able to contact us when/if there was an emergency. I even like to dream of a time in the future when my wife and I can go to dinner together and leave Ella home with her two younger sisters. (Although we know we are still far from that point!)
Our biggest concern as parents is the amount of responsibility that comes with owning such a powerful device. We use our phones to communicate in many ways. We use our phones for banking, to find directions, watch videos, and shop. We keep in contact with people and the rest of the world using a multitude of social media apps. Most parents know about Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. There are many other social media apps that we are less familiar with, including Kik, Jott, Voxer, Whisper, and Ogle. When used properly, these apps can be an efficient way to stay connected with friends. Unfortunately, they can also provide our children with an opportunity to make poor choices or lead to dangerous situations.
The message I heard growing up was, "don't talk to strangers." While that was sound advice 30 years ago, the likelihood of having an encounter with a "stranger" has increased dramatically with the advancements of technology. Our children can be exposed to cyberbullies, sexual predators, and other questionable characters simply by "liking" or "following" someone who pretends to have similar interests as our own children.
Maggie Sayre, our school social worker, handed me an article last week titled, "Apps All Parents Should Know About." The article shares the dangers that are associated with 30 apps we may or may not be familiar with, and the information floored me. Below are links to websites that provide parents information about the different apps some of our students are using. Please take a minute to read the available information and have conversations with your children about the apps they have downloaded and are using on a regular basis.
The 12 Apps Every Parent of a Teen Should Know About
Safety Beyond Facebook: 12 Social Media Apps Every Parent Should Know About
Free Social Media Safety Webinar
Just a reminder:
Our annual Jr.-Sr. High School Holiday Concert is on Tuesday, December 5th at 7 pm. Students performing should arrive in concert dress at 6:30 pm. I hope to see you there!
The winners of the 8th Grade Washington D.C. Trip Raffle are listed below. Thanks for supporting our students with their fundraising.
1st Place - Angela Treat ($300)
2nd Place - Jackie Humberstone ($200)
3rd Place - Jen Luste ($100)
4th Place - Lindsey Large ($50)
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Nov. 9, 2017
Tomorrow, school will be closed to observe Veterans Day. Veterans Day is a time for us to recognize those who have served our country in the armed forces. Each of us enjoy the freedoms our veterans have fought to preserve for us. It is important for us to acknowledge all Veterans for their courage, for their sacrifices, and their commitment to our country.
This morning we hosted our annual Veterans Day Assembly in the auditorium. We had several special guests in attendance for the assembly. Mr. Nick Valenti, Central District Director of the Vietnam Veterans of America's New York State Council, addressed our students and explained why it is important to remember the men and women who have served our country in our armed forces. Mr. Valenti also thanked our students, staff members, and the Port Byron community for the roles they played in making last spring's "The Wall That Heals" event such a great success.
The assembly was organized by Mrs. Kanuck, Mr. Chaloux and the members of our student government organization. Our students did a phenomenal job with the event. It is always great to see what our students can accomplish both in and out of the classroom.
Have a great weekend!
Nov. 3, 2017
My knowledge of teenage slang has definitely improved over the past couple of years. Having the opportunity to spend a few minutes in the hallway during passing time or having a seat at a table in the commons during lunchtime gives me better odds than most adults at decoding what students mean when they "that song is fire" or "stop throwing shade at him." I know when someone was "acting savage" in class, a discipline referral is likely to show up in Mr. Brown's email inbox.
That being said, I am no expert. There are several phrases that students use regularly that I may be able to guess at what they are trying to say, but I'm certain my translation won't be 100% accurate.
We are all guilty of using jargon, slang or catch-phrase. Professional educators might be the guiltiest party. We use terms like "individualized education program," "blended learning", "standards-based reporting", and "flipped classroom" with parents even though they may not understand what we are trying to say.
One phrase that gets used frequently in education is "college and career readiness". Even amongst fellow educators, that particular term can mean different things to different people. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours have been spent trying to define what college and career readiness actually is, and more importantly, how to figure out what we need to do to help our children to be prepared for post-secondary success. My favorite research on this topic is by David Conley, PHD. His work suggests that college and career readiness consists of four key areas. They are Key Cognitive Strategies (higher-level thinking skills), Key Content Knowledge (the "big ideas from the different subjects taught in school), Key Learning Skills and Techniques (study skills, time-management skills, motivation) and Key Transition Knowledge and Skills.
Key Transition Knowledge and Skills are the skills students and their families need to successfully transition in to life after high school. These skills include understanding the college application process, the courses students should take in high school to help prepare for college, understanding the financial aid process and the many different scholarship opportunities, and finding the college or career path that fits each student best.
I am extremely excited and pleased to share with students and parents that we are going to begin a partnership with Cornell University, Ithaca College, SUNY Cortland, Tompkins Community College and several high schools in Central New York as part of the A.C.E. (Access to College Education) program.
This program will available to all of our students in grades 9-12 who are looking for the skills, knowledge, and attitude that is needed to increase the likelihood of successfully pursuing a college education. The program's goals are to provide students and their families the opportunity to develop the transition knowledge and skills that I mentioned above. Membership in this group includes scheduled opportunities to visit college campuses, admission to college fairs, and invitations to attend regional institutes that focus on helping our students prepare for post-secondary success.
On Monday, we will have a brief assembly to review the program with our students. The following week, we are inviting all interested families to attend an informational session regarding the program. This event will be held on Wednesday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium. I hope to see many of you that evening. This is truly a wonderful opportunity for our families and I am excited to see the positive impact it will have for our students in the future.
Have a great weekend!
Oct. 27, 2017
Although some of our students hurry out of here when the bell rings at 2:24 each day, a large number of them stick around for different activities. Last week, I took time to share some highlights from the fall athletic season, but our student-athletes are not the only ones who stay here until dinnertime and sometimes beyond.
For the past couple of months, the drama club has been practicing each day for their fall performance, Stage Door. The play's setting is New York City in 1936. The story is about a group of young girls trying to get a role on Broadway.
Between cast members and stage crew, more than 30 students have been preparing for next week's performance. They have spent hours memorizing their lines, practicing their timing, and building the set. Mr. Chaloux, the Drama Club Advisor, and a few parents and other staff members have done a tremendous job getting everyone ready for next Friday and Saturday's evening shows.
If you have not made plans for next weekend, come to school and watch our talented student actors and actresses in the auditorium. I know I am looking forward to being there!
When: Friday, November 3 at 7pm and Saturday, November 4 at 7 p.m.
Where: Dana L. West High School Auditorium
Cost: $7 - General Admission
$5 - Students/Senior Citizens
Have a great weekend!
Oct. 20, 2017
Although it is hard to tell by the great weather we have had recently, our fall athletic season is winding down and our student athletes will be wrapping up one sports season for a quick break before the winter season begins.
The Boys Cross Country team won the league title again this year. This is the third consecutive year they have finished at the top. The boys have one more invitational to participate in before they begin the postseason portion of their season.
The Girls Cross Country team finished in second place this year. They had won the league title the past three years, and this yearâ€™s strong season also sets them up for nicely for the sectional meet.
The Lady Panthers earned the 2nd seed in sectional play in filed hockey. Their season included two wins over our crosstown rival, Weedsport. The first win versus Weedsport allowed them to capture their second straight Cayuga County Tournament Championship. The girls will play their semifinal game this Sunday in Fayetteville-Manlius against Clinton.
For the first time in several seasons, the varsity cheerleaders entered two cheer competitions. The girls performed extremely well, earning second place trophies in both events. Way to go girls!
On the gridiron, our boys fought hard as they moved back into Class C after spending last year in the NFF. Even with the tougher schedule, the football team managed to win three games over the course of the season.
Several of our student-athletes traveled to Union Springs to participate in the soccer program. The boys won the Jim Cufari Kickoff Classic, playing under the lights in Union Springs. The girls team reached the opening round, but lost a close game in finals and finished as the runner-up.
All of our sports teams (varsity, junior varsity, and modified) have something to be proud of. They have worked hard since the end of August to represent our school in a positive manner.
Many other people deserve special thanks for their work behind the scenes. Mr. Brown and Mrs. Slayton spend hours each day making sure practices, games, and officials are scheduled for all teams.
Mr. Rooker and his staff deserve a thank you for managing the always-changing transportation schedules and making sure our athletes practice and play on the best-maintained fields in the area.
Last but not least, thanks to all the coaches, parents, and fans for all you do to support our sports seasons. Without your help, our student-athletes would not be able to achieve the successes they have enjoyed throughout the season.
Have a great weekend!
Oct. 13, 2017
Mr. Brown, Mrs. Sayre and Officer Ryan spent the day Friday with other school administrators and law enforcement officials at a regional training focused on teen drug abuse and how we, as a school, can better serve our students and support them to make safe, healthy decisions.
This training could not come at a better time. In Thursday's local newspaper, one of the headlines read, "Cayuga County coroner warns drug overdose deaths on the rise." Unfortunately, over the past week, four young people in our county lost their lives as a result of illegal drug use. In the same article, Sheriff Gould states that the number of calls they have received in response to drug overdoses have increased significantly over the last month.
I promise we will continue to find ways to educate our students at school about the dangers of illicit drug use. I also promise that we will continue to be vigilant about keeping drugs out of our building.
Please work with us by having conversations with your child at home about the dangers of illegal drugs. Our students cannot hear the message enough. They need to hear the message at home and they need to hear the message at school.
If you ever have questions or concerns about your child or another student having issues concerning drug and/or alcohol abuse, please reach out to us at school. Our school counselors, the school social worker, and our resource officer have access to many outside agencies that can support folks who are struggling with these issues.
Thanks for your continued support,
Oct. 6, 2017
It has only been four weeks since all of our students received chromebooks, but it is amazing to see how frequently they are being used in our classrooms. Over the past week, I have visited math, science, social studies and English classes where students and teachers were using chromebooks to collaborate with each other, create documents or slideshows, or search for answers to questions on the Internet.
At last night's Board of Education meeting, Mike Dingman, our Technology Integration Specialist, and a few of our teachers, Mrs. Kanuck, Mr. Gordon, Mrs. Duda and Mrs. Howard shared a few of the ways they have implemented the devices into their daily instruction. It was exciting to hear the different ways our teachers have used technology to improve the learning experiences our students have each day.
While the teachers' presentation was impressive, the group of students who attended the board meeting stole the show. Connor Lang, Kristen Lang, Erick McCarty, Kira McLoughlin, Ashley Rooker, and Connor VanFleet brought their chromebooks to the meeting and showed our board members the many different ways they use their devices. They shared about Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Google Slides. They showed the board members how they get assignments sent to them and how they turn completed assignments in to their teachers.
Overall, our students and staff members have embraced the new technology that is available to them. There are still plenty of times in the day where students and teachers use "traditional" instructional tools, but it is fun to see the different opportunities that are available to us because of advancements in technology.
Our Board of Education approved a change in our school service-learning requirement. Students are no longer required to perform 40 hours of service hours as a condition of graduation.
That being said, the Port Byron Central School District is committed to providing students an opportunity to participate in service learning. Performing meaningful work in the community allows students to learn about their civic responsibilities as well as develop skills that help them have a lasting and positive impact on society.
We will still expect students to participate in a service learning experience each year. I will be working with our students and staff members to plan meaningful service learning opportunities throughout the school year.
Have a great weekend!
Sept. 29, 2017
Early this morning, NewsChannel 9 featured our school several times during their Friday Morning Lights feature. The different segments focused on our students who participate on fall sports teams and the members of our pep band.
It was amazing to see the number of students and staff members who were willing to arrive at school more than two hours before their regular starting time to show off their different skills for everyone watching in the Syracuse viewing area.
This is the second time in less than a month that we have been featured on the morning news. Earlier in September, NewsChannel 9 came to speak to several students and Mr. Hsu about our 1:1 Chromebook initiative.
Only a few months ago, our district was again on the news and in the newspaper for hosting The Wall That Heals. Thousands of visitors from all parts of the state and from several other places in our great country came to visit the mobile replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the education center that was set up on our athletic fields.
Of the 50 or so school districts in Central New York, Port Byron would definitely be considered one of the smaller districts in the area. And when you think of the positive coverage we have earned over the past several months, especially considering our district size, it is impossible not to be incredibly proud of our school, its students and staff, and the community members who continue to support the work we do here each day.
We know there is plenty of room for us to grow as a high school, but we also have to stop occasionally, and celebrate the things we are doing well. This morning was one of those times to celebrate, and hopefully people from all around the area were able to watch us on the morning news and celebrate with us!
Have a great weekend!
Sept. 22, 2017
New York State sets minimum guidelines that all students must meet prior to receiving their high school diplomas. All students must complete 22 credits during their four years of high school. Four of those credits must be English Language Arts, four in social studies, three each in science and math, one in the arts, at least one in language arts, and two in physical education. Students also need to pass a combination of five Regents examinations depending on the different graduation pathways available to them.
The state sets minimum requirements for graduation, but local school districts often have additional requirements student must complete to be eligible to receive their high school diplomas. One of our local requirements for graduation involves students completing a service-learning requirement. Presently, each student must complete 40 service hours to be eligible for graduation.
Service learning, when done properly, is a powerful learning opportunity for students to better understand their civic responsibilities and provide support in their local community.
Unfortunately, the system we currently have in place is not working properly. While some students are able to find meaningful experiences to meet the service-learning requirement, many others are unable to complete the requirement outside of the school day. Other students fall behind and then complete service-learning hours that probably would not be considered a quality service-learning experience.
Over the next several weeks, I will be working with the school community and the Board of Education to modify our requirement with hopes to make service-learning experiences meaningful for all of our students.
Until we have something in place, students can continue to turn service-learning hours in at the high school office. Many students need to track hours for scholarship and college applications. Regardless of how the plan is modified, we will continue to provide a way for students to track their hours.
Have a great weekend!
Sept. 15, 2017
One of the best ways a parent can support their student in school is by establishing a positive relationship with their child's teachers. In 2017, the tools we use to communicate with families have changed dramatically. We use Twitter, Facebook, email, text messages, School Messenger, and SchoolTool to share updates, report grades, close school, and advertise upcoming school events.
While each of those modes of communication are useful, they also have their drawbacks, as well. Emails can get buried in your inbox. It is tough to determine tone in a text message. Facebook, Twitter, and School Messenger are used most effectively to quickly share a message with a large group of people, but they are not as effective for back-and-forth dialogue.
No matter how advanced we get as a society, my favorite form of communication is meeting face-to-face with the people I am communicating with. Personally, I think it is easier to stay engaged in the conversation when meeting face-to-face. Other benefits include being able to ask questions and clarify misunderstandings.
Next Thursday is a fantastic opportunity for parents and students to meet face-to-face with teachers and building administrators. Our annual Open House for Dana L. West Jr.-Sr. High will be held on Thursday, September 21st from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The evening provides an opportunity for parents and students to meet faculty and learn about the curriculum and expectations for the upcoming year.
Parents can visit their child's teachers in each of their classrooms. Maps of the building will be by the showcases that evening, or students may pick up a map during the day in the Jr.-Sr. High School Office.
On behalf of all our teachers and support staff, we are encouraging all of our families to attend our annual Open House event. We can't wait to see you at school on Thursday evening!
Have a great weekend! Go Panthers!
Sept. 8, 2017
Earlier this week, Mr. Brown and I met with all of our students in the auditorium to review school expectations and the changes put in place from last year. During the class meetings, I reviewed the building priorities we use to make decisions about school procedures and student programming. The priorities are listed below, and they are in order of their importance:
- Safety: Student safety is our number one priority. It is essential that we provide our students with a safe learning environment. A child who feels safe in school is able to focus on their academic responsibilities.
- Courtesy: It takes very little effort to treat others with respect, yet common courtesy plays a huge role in creating the positive relationships we need to build for students, staff members, and families to work together successfully.
- Learning Process: Providing all students with the best learning experience will always be our number one goal.
- Efficiency: Maximizing opportunities by ensuring our students' time in school used effectively is something we will always focus on.
Often times, conversations about schools focus on the learning process. While it is the goal, students are unable to learn in a learning environment where they do not feel safe and respected.
Next week, at the annual Homecoming Dance, we will be starting a new procedure to help maintain a safe environment at school functions. As students arrive at the school, they will all be screened for alcohol use prior to being admitted to the dance. The district has purchased handheld alcohol testers that can quickly detect whether or not a student has consumed alcohol prior to arriving at the dance.
Parents of students who test positive for using alcohol will be called by school administration and expected to pick their child up at school. Students will also face additional school consequences because alcohol consumption clearly violates the school district's student code of conduct.
This same process has been effectively used by several neighboring school districts to help reduce the number of incidents of underage drinking at school events. We thank you in advance for you continued support. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at school.
Have a great weekend!
Sept. 1, 2017
It is hard to believe that we have reached the final weekend of the summer. I hope everyone had an opportunity to relax and recharge their energy levels for the upcoming school year. I am looking forward to the 2017-2018 school year.
Throughout the spring, I used this space to highlight the many changes that will be in place for the upcoming school year. We are excited and ready to put those changes in place.
All students will be issued a Chromebook this year. Students in grades 9-12 will receive theirs by the end of the first week of school. All of our seventh and eighth graders will receive theirs by the end of the second week of school. Our staff has had several opportunities over the summer to participate in professional development to ensure they are ready to find ways to integrate the devices into their daily instruction.
There are several other changes and/or additions students will notice this year:
- Earlier advisory period where all teachers are available to provide support
- Reduced number of students in the cafeteria during each lunch period
- Device charging stations placed in common student areas throughout the building
- A full-time social worker has been hired to support our students' social and emotional needs.
- Classrooms have been moved to make sure all academic departments are located in the same area
Many teachers have been in the building to modify curriculum, plan for the upcoming school year, and participate in professional development workshops.
Maintenance staff has worked hard to make our building shine and Ms. Pelc, Mrs. Slayton and Mrs. Clark have been busy in the office preparing for the start of the year.
We have several new staff members joining us this year in the Jr.-Sr. High School. They will all be wonderful additions to the school district.
- Sarah Bock - Science
- Penny Paolo - Science
- David Graf - English
- Jen Locastro - Special Education
- Paul Grella - Special Education
- Jackie Skelton - Health/PE
- Maggie Sayre - Social Worker
- Darlene Kimak - Teacher Assistant
- Karen Herrling - Teacher Assistant
- Charlie Lemon - Teacher Assistant
Even though the school year has not "officially" started for our students, there are a couple of sports teams that have been featured in the local news recently.
Our girls' varsity field hockey team won their second straight Cayuga County Field Hockey Tournament championship on Wednesday afternoon. They beat Weedsport, 1-0 in an intense early season contest.
Our soccer and cross-country teams have started their seasons and the football team and cheerleaders will be kicking their season off this Sunday at 11 am in the Carrier Dome against the Phoenix Firebirds. Let's go Panthers!
As always, if you have questions or concerns do not hesitate to reach out to us at school. We are here to help and we look forward to supporting our students throughout the school year.
Enjoy the holiday weekend!