Webster pre-K students celebrate 100 days by giving back

19 Feb

Chris McNamara (left) and Ann Meers help their Schlegel Elementary School UPK kids show off the cans they collected and their can chain.

Celebrating the first 100 days of school is an elementary school tradition. It’s not only a fun way to recognize the fact that the school year is more than half over, but it’s also a good excuse to practice counting to 100 in different ways and with a variety of items.

Two Webster pre-K teachers — Joanna Sero at Klem Rd. North and Chris McNamara at Schlegel Rd. — came up with a unique way to help their young students mark the occasion, while helping the Webster community at the same time.

On Feb. 4 they began a two-week long can drive, encouraging their students in each of their classes to donate 100 cans of dog food, which they would then donate to Joyful Rescues.

In a letter she sent home to parents, Sero explained the project and how it would be incorporated into the curriculum:

In the past few months we have learned about friendship, kindness and generosity, as well as wants and needs. As we prepare to celebrate love and friendship on Valentine’s Day, we are inviting our Pre-K friends to show kindness to pets in need. … Our goal is to collect 100 cans (so we can work on sorting/counting them in groups of ten)! We will also connect this project to our study of environmental print.

As you can imagine, the students enthusiastically embraced the project. At Schlegel, the students made a canned-food chain, marking each new donation with a new link on the chain. At Klem North, Sero’s class created a pet shelter/vet clinic dramatic play center, and read books about rescued animals.

By the end of the two-week donation period, both classes had reached their goal (although I suspect the teachers might have had a hand in that). Last Saturday, Sero and McNamara — accompanied by many of their pre-K friends — took them all to PetSmart in Webster and handed them over to some very grateful representatives from Joyful Rescues.

This was a great project in so many ways. It was a fun way for the kids to practice counting to 100, and it was a terrific lesson in community involvement. But it touched on so many other skills as well.

Case in point: When Sero told her class that the Schlegel students had collected 96 cans to their 81, several of them said “they’re beating us!” But then one little guy noted, “It’s okay because we are collaborating with them, and the dogs get all of the cans!”

Here are some photos from the can delivery:

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Webster Community Mailbag

15 Feb

barrys-old-schoolWebster’s favorite little Irish pub will be hosting its annual Guinness Toast on Saturday night.

As one of the top Irish pubs in the country (no exaggeration — read this blog here for proof), Guinness representatives return every year on Feb. 16 (one month before St. Patrick’s Day) to raise a pint of Guinness with everybody. The event happens on the same evening across the world, so participants know they’re part of something very big.

The official toast takes place at 10 p.m., when everyone will get a pint on the house. There will also be lots of give-aways and Billy Herring will provide live Irish music from 7:30-10:30.

Barry’s Old School Irish is located at 2 West Main Street in the village of Webster.

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Next, some news from the schools.

With the change to new school start times next school year The Webster Central School District is introducing a new before and after-care childcare program called WonderCare. It will be offered at each of the district’s seven elementary schools and will be available to all WCSD-enrolled kindergarten through sixth grade students.

Several information nights have been scheduled, and parents are asked to attend the one associated with their school if at all possible:

• Monday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m. for Plank Road North and Plank Road South at Plank North
• Wednesday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. at Dewitt Road
• Thursday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. at Klem Road South
• Monday, March 4 at 7:00 p.m. at Schlegel Road
• Tuesday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m. at Klem Road North
• Wednesday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. at State Road

These evenings will be geared for parents only. (Family meet and greet nights will take place in August.) If you cannot attend your home school date, you may attend at another location.

If you have any questions in the meantime, visit our new WonderCare webpage at websterschools.org for more information about the program, including pricing structure and FAQs. You can also email wondercare@webstercsd.org or call 216-0017.

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Spry Middle School will host a charity basketball game on Friday, March 1, to benefit Habitat for Humanity and Rochester Wheels.

In the week leading up to the game, students and staff will celebrate Spirit Week. Students will play in-house competitions to earn points toward the coveted Spirit Stick. The spirit competition will culminate on March 1 when the houses play in a round robin tournament. That will be followed by the Spry staff taking on the Rochester Wheels basketball team.

The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door. Spry Middle School is located at 119 South Ave.

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This is fun:

The State Road Elementary School Art Clubs are working on murals for the Rochester Ronald McDonald House. Art teacher Kelly Stevens has her Eagles creating a heart-based mural and a hopeful garden mural. Here are a few photos of some fifth graders working on the heart mural.


Step right up to the Webster Recreation Center for an indoor carnival, coming on March 9 from 4 to 7 p.m.

The event will include dinner, games, fortune telling, entertainment, and lots more fun for the whole family. Two dinner times will be available, 4:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Cost is $10 per person, and it’s recommended you register by March 1 to get your preferred dinner seating time. Visit webtrac.ci.webster.ny.us and use program #100001.

For more information, call 585-872-7103.

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Our high school kids will be learning about healthy peer relationships in school for the next few weeks, thanks to a program recently introduced by the Webster PTSA.

The PTSA has kicked off a Healthy Peer Relationships program at both high schools with a social media campaign highlighting the positive behaviors that promote healthy relationships.

The program focuses on friendships and dating relationships. The campaign will be active through May, and include the following:

○ Social Media Campaign
○ Relationship Spectrum Table Tents for Library and Student Lounge area
○ “Love is Respect” Posters around the school
○ “How to Get Help” Signs for Bathrooms
○ “I’m a good Listener” Teacher & Staff Identification
○ #LoveisRespect printing on Junior/Senior Prom Tickets.
○ Activities during Community Arts Day and One Warrior Week

Ask your kids if they’ve seen any of these messages, and have a real conversation with them.

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Don’t forget about the Webster UCC Pet Food Pantry’s Open House on Saturday March 2 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The evening will be your chance to check out this great new community service, spearheaded by the United Church of Christ’s Rebel Beat youth group. They collect pet food and work hand-in-hand with Meals on Wheels to get the donations to clients in need.

You can get a tour of the pantry, meet the kids, nibble on some kibble, and make and take a kitty toy. It’s also a great chance to get a first-hand look at what a typical monthly order is like and even help pack an order.

The pantry is also collecting donations of dry cat food (they’re hoping for 2,400 pounds), so on your way to the open house, please pick up some Friskies on the way! The church is at 570 Klem Rd.

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Webster students head to national ninja competition

13 Feb


Two Dewitt Elementary School students will be headed to Hartford, CT this weekend to compete in the 2019 World Championships of the National Ninja League (NNL).

Grayson Schoeffler and Megan Stupplebeen, classmates in Mrs. Krieger’s second grade class, will be competing against kids from all around the world in the 6 to 8-year old division.

Grayson and Megan both train at the Warrior Factory in Henrietta, where they qualified for the national NNL competition with top-three finishes in local competitions.

Both Grayson and Megan have been ninja warriors pretty much their whole lives. Grayson’s mom, Alison, says her son

started his ninja career when he was 10 months and climbing out of his crib. From there he basically has been swinging and climbing off anything in his way….All great ninjas have a ninja name and Grayson is known as the Hardway Ninja, (because he usually does everything the Hard Way).

Megan’s mother Cathy describes her daughter (AKA “MEGatron”) as an “8-year old dynamo.”

She enjoys training with several friends and her brother, Peter (age 11) during open gym at The Warrior Factory…. We have converted the majority of the basement to be ninja central where Megan works on ring toss, cliffhanger, climbing walls, balance obstacles and whatever the newest challenge is. Megan works with her dad and brother on building new obstacles.

The four-day long competition, held Feb. 15-18, is divided into several age categories from the youngest (6-8) through masters (40 and over). Competitors typically tackle up to ten obstacles on every course. If you want to check out the kinds of challenges these kids might face, click here to see a video of a past (very young) first-place competitor. If you ever watch these ninja competitions on TV, I think you’ll recognize some of the elements.

From reading their emails, it’s clear to me how proud both families are of their young ninja warriors. But both moms also emphasized how positive and supportive the young ninja community is.

“One of our favorite aspects of ninja is how all ninjas cheer each other on, it’s such a positive community,” Cathy said. Alison added, “It has been such a positive sport for (Grayson) as everyone is so encouraging of each other.”

Check back here after the weekend for an update on how MEGatron and the Hardway Ninja did!

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Pet lovers, unite for a good cause!

12 Feb

pfpHave you ever heard about the Pet Food Pantry at Webster United Church of Christ? The awesome Rebel Beat youth group there took it upon themselves to create a pet food pantry from the ground up, coordinating with Meals on Wheels to deliver pet food to their clients who have dogs and  cats at home.

Since the pantry began last summer, it has continued to support Meals on Wheels with a large monthly delivery so that the family pets of home-bound individuals can get much needed pet food and supplies. In the beginning they served more than 50 clients each month. Since then, that number has increased by about 30%. They hope to eventually cover all Meals on Wheels clients in Monroe County.

Right now, the pantry is holding a dry cat food drive, and has set an ambitious goal of 2,400 pounds, which will meet the needs of the Meals on Wheels for Pets program for the rest of 2019.

If you can help, please drop off your donation in the PFP collection bench on the west side of the church at 570 Klem Road.

Or better yet, bring it to the Webster UCC Pet Food Pantry open house on Saturday March 2, which is being held from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s a great opportunity to meet these incredible young people and take a tour of the pantry.

More details to come about the open house, but for now, make sure to grab an extra box of cat food next time you go to the grocery store!

For more information about the Pet Food Pantry, visit the PFP’s Facebook page or contact Wendy Lesko at wlesko88@gmail.com or (585)746-1965.

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Webster teachers take the plunge

11 Feb

We got some of the greatest teachers in the world here in Webster.

Sunday at noon, I joined about a dozen of my Webster school district teaching colleagues to participate in the 2019 Polar Plunge at Ontario Beach Park to benefit Special Olympics.

If you consider how bad the weather could have been (think back to our recent cold snap and high winds), it actually was a pretty nice day to go take a dip in a frozen lake. I mean, we had bright sunshine, the temperature was in the mid-20s, and there was barely any wind to speak of.

But let me be clear. It was cold. Teeth-chattering cold. Especially when all you’re wearing is a t-shirt and shorts. And that was before you actually went into the lake. The nice Rochester City Parks folks were kind enough to carve a swimming area out of the ice for all the plungers, but it was still like wading through a Slushie.

This was my first Polar Plunge, as it was for most of my colleagues. I believe I speak for many of us when I say I probably would not have done it alone. But having a supportive group of friends shivering right along with me made the whole experience a lot more bearable — and dare I say it? — enjoyable.

But here’s the best part: thanks to the generosity of our friends and Webster colleagues, our WTA team raised $5,000 for Special Olympics, placing us on the top-10 honor roll for team donations. 

These are your kids’ teachers, folks. We are lucky to live and work in the Webster Central School District.

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Community readers are needed!

9 Feb

booksThe Webster school district is looking for some book-loving adults who’d like to participate in a pilot reading program being led by Webster Schroeder English teacher Eileen Connelly.

The program is called Webster Community Reading. Connelly describes how it will look:

The program pairs adult readers with high school students. Each pair reads and responds to a novel over a period of about four weeks. The kids read the book in class and answer four questions in a notebook; the book and notebook are then delivered to the adult reader who completes the same task and returns it. A district courier drops off books and notebooks at central locations around the district and we have a luncheon at the end where readers get a chance to meet each other.

Readers only have to commit to four weeks of reading. Books will be provided and delivered to a location of your choosing.

Connelly said that the program has been very successful at Brighton High School.  She has chosen to pilot the program here in Webster with one of her sophomore English classes.

But to be successful, Webster Community Reading has to have readers. So far only six people have signed up for 26 open slots. If you’re interested in taking part, click here to fill out the very short registration form. If you have any questions about the program, drop Eileen Connelly an email at eileen_connelly@webstercsd.org.

What a great way to encourage literacy! I’ve already signed up.

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The need is critical

7 Feb

blood dropAs a regular blood donor and a firm believer that everyone who canshould donate blood, I have more than once helped the American Red Cross spread word that blood supplies are at critically low levels.

But thanks to the widespread Polar Vortex (and, locally, the big snowstorm that preceded it), things are worse than they pretty much have ever been.

The cold snap sparked power outages, work and school closings, and as a result, many blood drives had to be cancelled. Even if they weren’t, many regular donors haven’t been able to make it to their appointments, or worse, figured it was too cold to venture out.

So blood supplies took a heavy hit and donors are needed immediately to help maintain a healthy stock.

If you’ve been considering donating blood – or even if you haven’t thought of it in a while – now is the time to act. 

Two local opportunities are coming up just next week:

Monday, Feb. 11: Holy Trinity Church, 1460 Ridge Road, Webster, from 1 to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 12: St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, 813 Bay Rd, Webster, from 1 to 6 p.m.

Can’t make those? Consider heading out to the Brighton Fire Department, 3100 East Avenue, on Saturday Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You’ll even get a $10 gift certificate to top merchants by mail just for coming out to help. Click here to make an appointment, or just stop in. Either way, the friendly folks there will be happy to see you!

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A Polar Plunge update

6 Feb

polar plungeJust a quick update this morning on the status of the Webster School District’s Polar Plunge team, which will take to the very cold Lake Ontario waters this Sunday at noon to benefit Special Olympics.

I have joined the team.

Together with seven of my Schlegel Elementary School colleagues (Bill Ambler, Dan DeStephano, Meg Dugan, Janet Gibson, Jill Mancini, Greg Pittman, Becky Plouffe), Dan Crowley our captain (my Plank North colleague) and Linda Law from Webster Schroeder, we have raised almost $2500 already.

When I signed up last night I had set a modest fund-raising goal of $100, which was eclipsed in about three hours (THANK YOU Sara, Sarah, Julie and Pat!) I’m now working on reaching $200, at which point I have pledged to throw myself face-first into the lake.

My personal page says I’m still at $100, but it’s actually $150 because of a few donations that were not recorded there yet. So basically, I’m almost there.

Not sure how excited I am about that fact.

If you’d like to help me reach my goal, click here to access my page and consider throwing a few bucks my way. It’s for a great cause (and I mean Special Olympics, not just seeing me go face first into the icy lake).


“Anything Goes” opens this Thursday

6 Feb

wizard of oz

Congratulations to the students of Willink Middle School for an outstanding performance of The Wizard of Oz last weekend! It was a fitting kick-off to the spring musical season, which continues this coming weekend when Webster Schroeder High School presents Anything Goes. 

The scene is a cruise ship in the late 1930s. Carefree broker Billy Crocker finds out that the woman he’s in love with is engaged to someone else and about to set sail on the luxury liner S.S. American, he sets in motion a madcap plan to stow away on the ship, win socialite Hope Harcourt’s hand, impress his boss, and evade law enforcement who anythinggoes_home400think he’s Snake Eyes Johnson, Public Enemy #1.

It’s a funny musical adventure, packed with Cole Porter songs you already love (like “Friendship” and “I Get a Kick Out of You”).  Showtimes are Feb. 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10-$15, available online at www.Showtix4u.com or at any Wegmans.

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Teachers “Plunging” for a cause

5 Feb

polar plungeI work with some pretty crazy colleagues. Crazy dedicated to students, that is.

Several of my colleagues at Schlegel Road Elementary School — and at least two others from Schroeder and Plank North — are teaming up to participate in the Polar Plunge this coming Sunday, which takes place annually at Ontario Beach Park.

In this very, very cold event, participants raise money for Special Olympics by “plunging” into Lake Ontario. There’s no swimming skills involved; even dipping a toe in counts as a plunge.

The Rochester Polar Plunge is the largest Polar Plunge in New York and one of the largest in the entire U.S. It’s part of the Special Olympics New York Polar Plunge series. There are over 15 Polar Plunges statewide and the event serves as the signature fundraising initiative to benefit the athletes and programs of Special Olympics New York.

The first Plunge in Rochester was held in 2001 and had 75 plungers with $15,000 being raised. It has since grown tremendously, drawing 2,300 plungers in 2016, who raised more than $300,000.

Here are the current team members (maybe one of them has taught your kids):

From Schlegel: Meg Dugan, Bill Ambler, Dan DeStephano, Jill Mancini, Janet Gibson and Becky Plouffe. Joining them are Dan Crowley from Plank North and Linda Law from Schroeder.

The team members are still looking for donations to encourage their efforts. You can click this link to support one specific team member or the entire team. And if you’re not doing anything this Sunday at noon, come on down to the lake and watch your WCSD teachers take the Plunge!

(Believe it or not, I’m seriously considering joining them……)

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