When the Phoenix Central School District presents “Les Miserables” this March, the stage will truly transform into a one-of-a-kind venue.
This year’s production will incorporate a unique twist: a turntable-style stage that rotates with each scene. Director Brian Logee said he has wanted to build a rotating platform for years, and this was the “perfect opportunity.” He said the cast, the play itself, and the support of the booster club made this year the ideal time for the dream to become a reality.
“Les Mis on Broadway had a rotating stage,” Logee said. “That’s the artistry of it. The stage changes the whole way the scenes are portrayed. There are no breaks in the music, so with the rotating stage, the action never stops.”
The stage, although it came together in Logee’s mind years ago, began taking shape physically in late January. Booster club members Rick and Angela VanGorder, Glen and Nicole Merrill, Gary Blumer, Cliff Frink, and Keith Renfrew joined Logee for a marathon building session.
“There are 200 ball bearings on this, operated by a rope drive,” Logee said. “It took some trial and error to make it operational, but it works!”
With the mechanical portion addressed, Logee said the cast and crew are focusing on delivering a jaw-dropping musical performance. Although he described the music in “Les Mis” as “extremely difficult,” Logee believes the strength of this year’s cast, especially the seniors, will take the show to a new level.
The lead actors in this year’s play include Danielle Merrill, Hannah Grabowski, Ned Greenough, Evan Logee, Joe Brennan, Chloe Koegel, Garrett Frink, Miranda Bowersox and Brian Breen.
“Our cast is going to make this show incredible,” he said. “I want the audience to walk away afterward saying, ‘I can’t believe this is a high school production.’ That’s the greatest compliment an audience can give. We set the bar high here, but the kids always rise to -- or exceed the bar.”
“Les Miserables” will be performed at 4 p.m. March 9, 7:30 p.m. March 10, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 11 at John C. Birdlebough High School. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens.
First-graders at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School embraced the giving spirit this holiday season and raised money for area law enforcement efforts.
The students collected more than $400 for the New York State Troopers Foundation, which will be used to purchase safety equipment for a police K-9. To show their gratitude for the students’ contributions, two NYS Troopers and their four-legged companions recently met with the first-graders inside the intermediate cafeteria.
Troopers Kevin Conners and Kylie Black talked about their dogs, the training they experienced and the qualities that make for a good police dog. Black’s K-9, a German shepherd named Rudd, demonstrated his powerful nose as he successfully sniffed out a fake explosive device. Students clapped and cheered as Rudd and Schini, a Bloodhound, showed off their skills.
After learning the value of employing police K-9s, the students were happy that their contributions will help bolster the force. The money the first-graders raised will go toward equipment for the newest K-9 recruit, who will be based out of the Fulton barracks.
Nearly 20 Phoenix Central School District middle school students showcased their musical talents during the recent All-County Band Festival held in Hannibal.
The annual event was spearheaded by the Oswego County Music Educators Association and featured 74 student musicians representing all nine school districts throughout the county. Under the direction of Jonathan Hunkins, the junior high band performed “Encanto,” “Air for Winds” and “The Forge of Vulcan.”
The Emerson J. Dillon instrumental music program had the largest number of junior high students represented from one school district at this year’s festival, which is a testament to the hard work of the students and the district’s rich music program, said EJD band teacher Dave Frateschi.
“The Phoenix Central School Music Department is also very proud to be included in the National Association for Music Education top 100 schools in America for Music Education for the 2016 school year,” Frateschi said, noting that this marks the fifth consecutive year for this designation. “Special thanks go out to the Phoenix administration team and the Board of Education for their continued support of our students here in Phoenix.”
Art students in the Phoenix Central School District recently earned recognition for their work as part of the Scholastic Art Awards program.
The annual effort honors Central New York students in grades seven through 12 for their artistic accomplishments. This year nearly 5,100 pieces of art were submitted from school districts throughout the region, and a panel of judges recently selected the winners, including several Phoenix students. Fourteen Emerson J. Dillon Middle School artists earned honors and their work will be among the 1,300 pieces on display through March 3 at the Whitney Applied Technology Center at Onondaga Community College.
The winners from EJD were eighth-graders Noah Gordon, Cierra Harvey, Liam Sweeney, and Haley Bowersox (Gold Keys); Michael VanAuken, Sara Brunell, Shay Altman, Alivia Lamphere, Sophia Trinca and Emma Clark (Silver Keys); and Andrew Quinn, Melody Trask, Nathan Kosakowski, Emma Clark, Alivia Lamphere, Shay Altman and Nate Sutter, who was recognized for two submissions (honorable mention).
EJD art teachers Beth Pritchard and Ashley Modafferi congratulated the students on the recognition and noted that the exhibit is open to the public for community members and parents who would like to see the work on display.
Phoenix kindergartners in Pat McMonagle’s class connected with students from Steuben County recently for a videoconference focusing on a variety of subject areas.
From their classroom in Phoenix, the Michael A. Maroun students read the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?” and created their own character puppets. Their peers from the Prattsburgh Central School District followed the same steps and the classes compared the things they see and experience within their local communities.
According to McMonagle, the kindergartners enjoyed the lesson and developed important skills through the process. Students practiced reading, speaking listening and math, and developed presentation skills.
The videoconference was part of a distance learning offering provided by the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation. The service strives to bridge the gap in educational opportunities and enhance learning experiences for students, teachers and community members by providing overall program coordination services, technical support, identification of district needs and connectivity access to school districts and educational institutions.
The Phoenix Central School District is home to some of the state’s most talented student musicians.
Several John C. Birdlebough High School students recently performed in the New York State School Music Association Senior High Area All-State Festival in Whitesboro. They showcased their talents in band, orchestra, mixed chorus and women’s chorus as they played alongside students from Oswego, Herkimer and Oneida counties.
JCB Band Director Liza Grethel said students were selected for the honor because they received high scores for their NYSSMA solo piece performed in the spring of 2016. Grethel commended JCB seniors Daniel Knowlton, who played a trumpet, and Samantha Harrison, who played a French horn, for their Area All-State Orchestra performance, which she said is an exceptional honor because JCB does not have an orchestra program.
Praise was also given to the four mixed chorus members, one member of the women’s chorus, and five students who performed in the concert band. Grethel said the Senior High Area All-State Festival provided students with an opportunity to make music at a high skill level, which “really gives them a unique experience.”
JCB seniors Samantha Harrison and Daniel Knowlton recently
participated in the New York State School Music Association
Senior High Area All-State orchestra.
John C. Birdlebough High School seniors Zachary Thompson and Brian Breen recently performed in the New York State School Music Association annual Winter Conference All-State Music Festival in Rochester.
Thompson participated in the mixed chorus on tenor 1. The 284-member group performed under the direction of Vanderbuilt University Associate Professor of Music Dr. Tucker Biddlecombe. Selections performed by the mixed chorus at the concert included “The Star Spangled Banner” by Key/Smith, “Sing Unto God” by G.F. Handel, “My Spirit is Uncaged” by Paul Rardin, “Luminescence” by Andrea Ramsey, “Verleigh uns Frieden” by Felix Mendelssohn, “Even When He Is Silent” by Kim Arnesen, “Jenga Imani Yako” by Israel Rodgers, and “He’ll Make A Way” by Byron Smith.
Breen, who shined in the percussion section, was one of 61 students who performed in the wind ensemble, under the direction of Nazareth College Music Professor Dr. Jared Chase. Selections performed by the wind ensemble at the concert included “The Star Spangled Banner” by Jack Stamp, “Magnolia Star” by Steve Danyew, “Sheperd’s Hey” by Percy Grainger, “Sheltering Sky” by John Mackey and “Zion” by Dan Welcher.
Breen and Thompson were selected from applications from every school district throughout their state, after they obtained high scores at the NYSSMA Solo Festival in the spring of 2016.
Selected students participated in one of seven performing ensembles: vocal jazz ensemble, instrumental jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, symphonic band, string orchestra, women’s chorus, and mixed chorus.
Students in Cheryl Fassett’s classes at John C. Birdlebough High School are exploring math in new ways through a variety of projects.
Using the game “Angry Birds” as the theme of an algebra lesson, students recently learned about parabolas. The class calculated function based on the game, then graphed their findings. According to Fassett, the lesson was well received and the students enjoyed the unique learning experience.
Fassett’s calculus class also had a chance to participate in an “out-of-the-box” lesson that combined music and mathematics. Students wrote and performed songs that helped reinforce two complex math formulas they were studying. The songs, Fassett said, were a “hit.”
Faculty, staff and administrators in the Phoenix Central School District continued an annual tradition this holiday season by donating to the United Way of Oswego County.
As part of a two-week effort, dozens of PCSD employees opted for payroll deductions and made other contributions to support the local United Way. Their efforts netted more than $1,500 for the organization, which aims to stop hunger, help children and youth succeed, and improve the health and well-being of the community.
According to Nicole Covell, who helped spearhead the campaign on behalf of the school district, the generosity was truly a team effort. Employees in all departments and at all buildings participated in the effort.
“This district is incredibly caring about its students and its community,” Covell said. “The fundraising effort was fantastic, and all the money stays right here in Oswego County.”
Emerson J. Dillon students were recognized by Principal Sue Anderson for being good citizens and demonstrating the qualities of being dependable, responsible, courteous, thoughtful of others, congenial, friendly and showing school pride through the “Dillon Way.”
The “Dillon Way” motto at EJD Middle School is: Respect + Responsibility = Success."
Students were congratulated during morning announcements and received a certificate for serving as excellent role models for their peers.
The honorees were: Alaina Sutter, Avery Bowman, Cameron Kreis, Donald Hook, Ethan Reynolds, Ethan Zody, Juliahana Dennis, Lillian MacDonald, Myah Burnham, Nicholas Root, Rylee Denslow, Sara Ruetsch, Sophie Delahunt, Alexis Crandall, Celia Tangorra, Edward Pitcher, Elizabeth Caltabiano, Evan Fox, Hayley Dygert, Hope Smith, Isaac Chesbro, Liam Campanino, Lillianne Quinn, Mia Graham, Morgan Lynch, Tateum Patnode, Zoey Stone, Alexandra Hopps, Breannah Demo, Cody McFall, Ella Tangorra, Jake Charleston, Isaiah Gordon, Ashleigh Besaw, Ashlyn Wallace, Brielle DeRoberts, Ethan Fox, Lily Roberts, Tabitha Clark, Thomas Uhl, Tori-Lenn Loosen, Tyler Redhead and Zack Mills.