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News and Articles for Phoenix Central School District.

Concert features Phoenix students’ jazz talents

The Phoenix Central School District music department recently presented an evening of entertainment featuring the middle school and high school jazz bands.

In separate performances, each band played six songs ranging from jazz classics to today’s hits. The Emerson J. Dillon jazz students opened the evening with “The Star Spangled Banner,” followed by blues tunes and other numbers.

“These students have worked so hard in such a short amount of time,” said EJD jazz band director Dave Frateschi. “I’m so proud of what they have been able to accomplish.”

Under the director of Liza Grethel, the high school jazz band kept the music going with an array of songs such as “The Last Lap,” “Feeling Good” and “Make me Smile.” John C. Birdlebough High School student Sean Sievers was a featured soloist while Zachary Thompson showcased his vocal talents.

In each of the past seven years, the Phoenix Central School District’s music program has been named one of the Best Communities for Music Education. The recognition, awarded by the National Association of Music Merchants, honors districts that have demonstrated a commitment and access to music education.

‘Parents in PE’ a success at MAM

Parents and grandparents in the Phoenix Central School District recently joined elementary students in physical education (PE) classes.

The annual “Parents in PE” program began several years ago at the suggestion of Alice Benjamin, a PE teacher at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School. Since then, hundreds of parents have participated and learned a variety of exercises to use at home.

“I try to change the activities and make sure they can do some of these things together at home,” Benjamin said.

This year, participants climbed the rock wall (funded through Box Tops for Education) and worked their way through agility courses, team activities and cardiovascular exercises.

“It’s awesome to see the kids and their parents/grandparents exercising together and having fun,” Benjamin said. “This is something that they look forward to every year.”

Hundreds of athletes participate in Oswego County Olympiad Invitational

Phoenix students parade around the JCB track prior to the Oswego County Olympiad Invitational
The John C. Birdlebough track and field area was bustling with excitement May 11 as dozens of volunteers and hundreds of spectators cheered on athletes in the 2017 Oswego County Olympiad Invitational.

More than 450 student-athletes -- representing all nine component school districts in the county, as well as the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation -- participated in the third annual Olympiad. Participants wore school colors and displayed school spirit while parading around the track to begin the day.

“This is such an awesome day,” said Angie Neiss, a teacher at JCB who helps coordinate the Olympiad. “Everywhere you look, all you see is smiling faces. There’s nothing better than that!”

Fulton native Tim Conners, a cancer survivor who lost his sight while battling T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, served as emcee for the event. He encouraged participants to strive for the seemingly impossible and to overcome adversity one day at a time.

“It’s impossible until you do it,” Conners said as the Olympiad got underway.

Inspired by Conners’ words, student-athletes took to the track for their respective events. In addition to distance races, participants tried events such as shot put, softball throw, long jump and other activities.

“So many people helped make the Olympiad a success,” Neiss said. “Our student-athletes, volunteers, spectators and donors made this possible. What a great event!”

STOP DWI program comes to JCB

Juniors and seniors in the Phoenix Central School District received a sobering lesson during a recent mock DWI presentation.

Every-other year, in the weeks leading up to prom and before summer break, the district teams with the Oswego County STOP DWI program to teach high school students about the dangers of drunken and distracted driving. This year, students learned about the legal and personal ramifications of impaired driving.

“Twenty-eight people a day die from impaired drivers,” said Bob Lighthall, the Oswego County STOP DWI coordinator. “If you go out and decide to drink, make sure you have a plan. We don’t want to have any empty chairs on graduation day.”

In addition to staging a fatal DWI crash, local first-responders were on scene to provide a realistic portrayal of the death notification, the court process, and the lasting impact on all family members and friends.

“The decisions you make have lifelong consequences,” said Oswego County District Attorney and coroner Greg Oakes. “Impaired driving related deaths are foreseeable and avoidable. Have a plan to get home safely.”

Following the presentation, students had an opportunity to ask questions and were provided with additional resources related to impaired and distracted driving.

Phoenix High School Students Showcase Climate Change Research

Climate change was in focus during the annual Earth Science Honors Research Symposium held May 4 at John C. Birdlebough High School.

Susan Sharp’s sophomore honors students presented in-depth research projects to an audience of family and friends. The presentations detailed a variety of issues related to global warming and explored ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

“Carbon dioxide and other gases that warm the air are increasing faster today than any other period,” students explained.

Each student discussed the impact of climate change and concluded their research with an oral presentation. Sophomores Grace Arnold, Hailey Goudy, Tina Li, Sarah Thorn, Theresa Uhl and Grace Vestigo earned medals for their research, while the Principal’s Choice Award went to Savannah Neupert for her overall presentation titled, “How Does Climate Change Influence Natural Disasters?”

“As I watched each presentation, I was very proud of them,” Sharp said. “They’re working at the college level and they have really accomplished a tremendous amount.”

Phoenix students solve history mystery during Erie Canal videoconference

Students from Cheri Iannotti’s class joined their peers from two Rochester schools to solve a mock crime that took place on the Erie Canal. The three classes interacted with Erie Canal experts to learn about the canal and they worked together to interrogate four suspects to determine who stole a missing ring.

Each answer offered students a wealth of information about the Erie Canal and provided clues about the crime. After assessing the clues and eliminating suspects, the students solved the crime and the suspect was apprehended.

The videoconference aligned with the fourth-grade social studies curriculum and focused on local communities in New York state, industrial growth, geography and transportation. It 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.

Dillon students participate in ‘Who’s Who in the Zoo’ videoconference

The life skills class at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School learned about animals and the role of zookeepers as part of the “Who’s Who in the Zoo” virtual connection. Students asked questions about the different animals and discussed the habitats and eating habits of several species.

Through the videoconference, students learned about positive reinforcement training and how zookeepers use that technique with giraffes to move them from one area to another. The students were excited to simulate the training in the classroom, as one student portrayed the zookeeper and another acted as a giraffe.

The videoconference was a distance learning offering was 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.

Science experiments featured at Maroun Elementary

The Michael A. Maroun Elementary School gymnasium was abuzz with excitement as nearly 65 students showcased their experiments at the annual science fair.

Students from kindergarten through fourth grades created projects pertaining to chemistry, biology, earth science and physics. Tables lined the gym with volcano eruptions, solar systems and magnetism displays, with students explaining their findings to a panel of judges. Each participant received a certificate and a handful of students earned additional awards for overall presentation in their respective category.

The event was sponsored by the MAM Parent Faculty Organization, which lauded the students’ accomplishments and encouraged the students’ continued interest in scientific research.

“Completing a science project allows children an opportunity to use critical thinking and problem solving skills in identifying a scientific question, figuring out how to answer their question and answering it,” the PFO said.

PCSD Lauded for Safety Efforts; Earns Top Honors

In recognition of its ongoing commitment to students, staff and visitors, the Phoenix Central School District recently received top honors for safety measures on school grounds.

The titanium-level School Safety Excellence Award was presented by the Utica National Insurance Group during the 37th annual School Safety Seminar. The yearly event honors school communities that meet strict criteria in a range of areas related to safety and security. Schools are measured in areas such as transportation, playground safety and bullying prevention programs.

Phoenix Central School District representatives celebrate the district’s recent titanium-level School Safety Award. From left are Keith Watkins (director of facilities); Diana Cook (board of education vice president); Earl Rudy (board of education president); Christopher Byrne (superintendent of schools); and Karl Seckner (assistant superintendent of finance and educational services).

For the PCSD, this year marked the first as titanium-level status – Utica National’s highest distinction -- which required documentation supporting the implemented safety measures. The award also earned the district a $500 check to be used for safety initiatives.

"Safety is the No. 1 priority in our school district,” said PCSD Superintendent of Schools Christopher Byrne. “I would personally like to thank Director of Facilities Keith Watkins, our Operations & Maintenance Department, our Transportation Department and our entire faculty and staff for helping us win this award. Our team continuously goes above and beyond to provide us with safe, secure and healthy learning environments for all children, staff, families and visitors.”

Watkins echoed those sentiments and stressed the team effort that was involved in receiving such a prestigious award.

“It was absolutely a group effort by all departments and staff to pull this together and identify what great lengths we go to as a district to provide a safe and clean environment for all students, staff and the community,” Watkins said.

Phoenix students combine for 10,000-plus hours of volunteer service

Nearly two dozen John C. Birdlebough High School students were honored recently for their leadership and volunteerism during the President’s Youth Service Awards ceremony.

The 21st annual event, held at the Phoenix Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5540, recognizes students who have dedicated their time to serve the community. Honorees were lauded for their volunteerism through various activities such as community cleanup efforts, Salvation Army bell ringing, working in soup kitchens, and helping the elderly in local nursing homes.

“What you have done in such a short amount of time is truly remarkable,” said Phoenix Central School District Superintendent Christopher Byrne. “Please do not change who you are. You’re a representative of yourself, your school district and your community. We are so proud.”

School district officials, elected government representatives and family members congratulated the honorees, who received pins and certificates based on their hours of service. Silver Awards were presented to those who tallied 300 or more hours of volunteer service, while Gold Awards went to students who performed 500-plus hours of service, and Gold Medallion Awards recognized those who spent more than 1,000 hours serving their community.

Silver Award recipients included Morgan Bajish, Natalie Hart, Chloe Koegel, Sean Sievers, Kristen Clapp, Brook Jones, Cade Reed and Haley Stellingwerf. Gold Awards went to Breanna Bakus, Madison Doane, Nicole Hetko, Catherine Musumeci, Dylan Blumer, Johnathan Garofalo, Daniel Knowlton and Alisa Trudell. Gold Medallion Award winners were Jordan Cole, James Lynch, Zachariah Neupert, Brooke Ensby and Teona Draper.

“Every one of you has made a difference in your community,” said Assemblyman Will Barclay. “Thank you for all that you do.”

In addition to the gold and silver awards, two students received special recognition as Youth of the Year. The recipients, Kea Corey and Joshua Margrey, were congratulated by Principal Thomas Bailer.

“Your volunteer service should inspire all of us to do more,” Bailer said. “You are students who have taken advantage of the high school experience beyond the classroom. You’re the model of a JCB student … and the model of a good citizen.”