My thoughts on the proposed new school start times

15 Jul

clockI’ve been giving some thought recently about discussions the Webster school district has been having about changing our schools’ start times.

I have to admit (rather sheepishly) that I haven’t really been paying very close attention to the process. I didn’t attend any meetings, didn’t follow the reports posted to the district website. Because the main focus seems to be on the secondary schools (based on adolescent sleep needs), I guess I really didn’t think it would affect me much, since I work in elementary.

That was my bad. It will definitely affect a lot of people, and as the blogger I should have followed it all more closely.

But not long ago a Plank North colleague of mine pointed out that the proposed changes will definitely affect us — and every elementary school — as well.

Allow me to back up a bit and fill in some long overdue details.

Based on the results from study groups and a community forum, a recommendation has been placed on the table that the board consider changing the district’s school start times to approximately 8:45 for secondary schools and 7:45 for elementary schools.

My colleague, and others, believe that this radical change in the start time for elementary students (whose school day now starts around 9 a.m.) will pose some challenges, especially with day care, after-school programs, breakfast programs and very early busing concerns.

There’s also some question about how well these young students will be able to adapt to the much earlier time, as they haven’t quite developed the self-management skills to stay focused and engaged that early.

There’s a lot to think about. I don’t know the answer, and I trust that the smart minds who are working on it are considering all the angles. It’s definitely a sticky problem, the solution to which will not make everyone happy. But I hope that the district plans another community forum in the near future, specifically to address some of these concerns from elementary school parents and teachers.

You can find a lot more information about this issue including a video from the June 5 community forum at this link.

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Bygone blog: Summer camp

14 Jul

This is the seventh in my series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 10 years. This one was originally published on June 20, 2011. I post it today in honor of all the kids (young and old) who are going off to camp this summer. 

A letter to my son at camp

Lenore Skenazy had a funny column in Sunday morning’s newspaper. Maybe you saw it; she had come across a website which actually gave instructions to parents on how to write a letter to their child at camp. Now, I didn’t go so far as to try to find that website, but I suspect the advice is aimed at parents whose young children are at a sleep-away camp, perhaps for the first time.

My daughter showed me the column yesterday.  She suggested I follow the website’s instructions and send a letter to my son, who left for camp Friday morning.  I thought that was a terrific idea.

But since my son is 21 years old and will be spending his entire summer as a counselor at the YMCA’s Camp Gorham in the Adirondacks, mine reads a bit differently:

Dear Sean,

I hope you had a safe trip to camp on Friday morning. Actually, I know you did; your dad took you there personally since we won’t let you have your own car until you can pay collision costs yourself for a change.

I miss you already. I was just remarking on that as I gathered your laundry from the floor in your room and rediscovered the color of your carpet.  I will miss all the charming peculiarities that make you unique and that bring us such joy at home.

Like your superhuman ability to eat an entire box of cereal in just two bowlfuls. And an entire 29-ounce can of peaches in one sitting.

I will miss seeing what new musical instrument you have decided to befriend this week. I will miss the way you can see music in everything. Like when you “conduct” the directional signal in my car as it makes its steady blinky noise, and how you can turn any surface in the house into an impromptu drum when we least expect it. I will miss having to high-step through my office so as to not step on a cymbal or flute or tambourine.

I will miss hearing the “SLAM!  THUNK!” when you come in from teaching in the evening, slamming the door behind you and dropping everything you carry within a one-foot radius. I will miss having to kick you out of the lounge chair because Dad and I want to use the TV ourselves for a change.  I will miss worrying if you’ll be up in time for your appointments because you stayed up all night playing video games.

Yes, I will miss all of these things, because as aggravating as they all are, they all mean you’re home and you’re safe. And that’s all a mom needs to know.

So have fun at camp this summer, Sean. I’ll miss you. But I’ll try to remember that I get you nine months of the year, so it’s only fair those kids at Camp Gorham get you the other three months.

They have no idea how lucky they are.

Love, Mom

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First Responders 5K scheduled for August in Webster

12 Jul

first responders

There’s a new 5K in town — and I mean in WEBSTER — and it’s one I think we can all get behind. It’s called the First Responders 5K, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. the evening of Friday August 31.

This information about the race comes from the event’s Facebook page:

The First Responders 5K will recognize the strength, perseverance, and courage of police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and their families in our local community.

First responders put their lives on the line for us every day as they face hardships that most of us will never know. The repetitive negative experience of stressful and potentially traumatic events that first responders face on a daily basis leaves them particularly vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder.

We hope that this event can raise awareness for PTSD in first responders, and raise funds to create a local charity that will provide support, awareness, assets, and services to first responders seeking assistance in dealing with the effects of PTSD. Join us as we recognize the service and sacrifice of the people who dedicate their lives to protecting ours.

The race will begin (and end, I assume) at Fireman’s Field on Ridge Road just west of the village of Webster. Cost is $20, or $10 for active first responders. T-shirts are not included but may be ordered for an additional $10. The race will be chip-timed, with finisher medals, post-race food and live music. To register or find out more information, click here .

Note: In conjunction with this race, a separate  Facebook event has been established for those interested in running in memory of Jimmy Weaver, a firefighter and paramedic who most recently served with the Holley Fire Department as a lieutenant. Jimmy passed away unexpectedly on June 28.

If you’d like to read more about Jimmy, click here for his obituary. If you would like to join the group running in his memory, still sign up on the regular race site, but then clock over to the group’s Facebook page to let them know about your support.

 

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The carnival is back in town!

10 Jul

firetrucks

Let’s hope the weather keeps holding, because there are a lot of fun events coming up.

This week, of course, is when the Webster Firemen’s Carnival returns to town, kicked off with the huge Firemen’s Parade which will take over Main Street in the village on Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m.

You can find all the details here on Facebook and here on the North East Joint Fire District website  about the Kiddie Parade, the Firemen’s Parade, and the carnival, but here are a few highlights:

  • Wednesday: Carnival opens at 6 pm at Firemen’s Field on Main Street. Featured attraction is a Craft Beer Night with wine and local breweries.
  • Thursday: The Firemen’s Parade kicks off at 6:30 p.m. , starting at Phillips Road and continuing down Main Street to Firemen’s Field. The carnival is open from 6 pm till late.
  • Friday: Carnival opens at 6 p.m., featuring live entertainment by Stateline from 8 to 11 p.m. in the beer pavilion.
  • Saturday: The Kiddie Parade will be held beginning at 12 noon. Registration begins at 11 a.m. at Spry Middle School on Sanford Street. The carnival runs through midnight with live entertainment, rides, games, food and drink, a bike raffle, and fireworks to end the night.

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marching bandAnd don’t forget about the Webster Marching Band Boosters’ thurd annual Food Truck Rodeo, scheduled for Friday July 20 from 5 to 9 pm in Webster Schroeder High School’s front parking lot.

The Marching Band Boosters sponsor various fundraising events throughout the year to help pay for the Webster Marching Band’s equipment, show productions, and competition-related trip expenses.

Organizers promise 15 food trucks including Macarollin’, Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza, Bob’s Kabobs, The Meatball Truck Co., Street Eats, Abbott’s, Kona Ice, Smoothies Plus, Eat Greek, Whole-E Roasters, Sweet Sammie Jane’s Pastry Shop, Chef’s, East Coast Toast Truck, Marty’s Birdland, and Brunch Box Rochester.

There will also be face painting for the kids, a visit by a West Webster Fire Department truck, and live music. Admittance to the rodeo is FREE, and all proceeds will benefit the Marching Band Boosters and Webster Marching Band members.

Webster Schroeder High School is located at 875 Ridge Road.

Webster community mailbag

8 Jul

mailbag iconThere’s a lot of good eating and great family fun in today’s mailbag.

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 1130 Webster Road (at the corner of State Road) will host a drive-thru takeout chicken dinner sale on Thursday July 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. Dinners will be cooked up by Heintzelman’s BBQ Pit of Ontario. They cost $12, and include a half-side of chicken, salt potatoes, cole slaw and cornbread.

Proceeds will benefit the church’s Outreach Committee which supports local charities in the greater Rochester area.

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Here are a few fun notes from our friends at the Webster Public Library:

  • First, keep an eye out for them in the Webster Firemen’s Parade on Thursday July 12. One of the librarians will be riding the Book Bike and be giving out free books at the end of the parade. (What’s not to love?) Don’t know about the parade? Check out my previous blog.
  • Did you get a chance to see the terrific “We All Have a Story” photography exhibit at the library in May and June? The display highlighted images by local portrait photographer — and school district staff member —  Linda Hayes and was very well received.

On Thursday July 19 from 6 to 7 p.m. you can meet Linda herself as she discusses her process as a photographer. What motivates her? What inspires her? How did she get those great images!? You’ll hear about the project and her work from start to finish.

Registration is requested by visiting the Webster Library website. Date:

  • And one final note from the library: They’ll be at the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market on Saturday July 28, and hosting a Cookbook Swap. Bring a cookbook you don’t use much anymore and you can swap it out for another one.

The Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday through October 27, rain or shine, in Webster Towne Center (Kohl’s/Target plaza). Check out the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market website and Facebook page for details.

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St. Martin Lutheran Church is holding a Pulled Pork Drive Thru BBQ on Saturday, July 21 from 4:30 until gone at the church on 813 Bay Road, Webster. Pull into the parking lot, place your order, and the dinner will be delivered to you in your car.

The take-out dinner includes pulled pork, roll, salt potatoes, cole slaw and cookie for $9. Proceeds support the church’s annual Christmas Stocking Project reaching over 500 children and teens in Monroe and Wayne counties.

St. Martin Lutheran Church is located at 813 Bay Road in Webster.

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Finally, the First Baptist Church of Penfield would like me to tell you about their upcoming Vacation Bible School.

This year the week has a superhero theme, with activities to help children have “super speech, fantastic conduct, to share incredible love, lightning fast faith and magnificent purity.”

The First Baptist Church of Penfield’s Vacation Bible School is August 6 to 10, form 98 a.m. to noon, and is open to children ages 4 through 11. Cost is $25 per child, or $50 per family. To register call the office at (585) 586-2876 or visit the church’s website.

The First Baptist Church of Penfield is located at 1862 Penfield Road.

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New East Main shop caters to artists

7 Jul
IMG_20180706_123735457

One of two incredible murals which grace the walls of Press On Main.

East Main Street is beginning to come alive again, at least a little bit, and Press On Main is leading the way — very colorfully, I might add.

The new screen print shop/artists’ corner, owned by Noah Calieri and Cory Ward,  opened in May in the old Singh Mart at 21 East Main Street. They even hosted a soft opening celebration on June 22, complete with food, live music and raffles.

But all of that actually happened so quietly that I didn’t even know about it until last week, when a friend of mine noticed the shop and told me about it.

But despite its low-key introduction to our village, I think Press On Main is going to make a splash very soon.

Walk into the new shop on the corner of East Main and Lapham Park and the first thing you notice is an explosion of color. Aside from a few t-shirt racks and Calieri’s desk, the front of the shop is still rather bare. The walls, on the other hand, are bursting with color from murals and art pieces. But you probably won’t recognize any of the artists’ signatures, and that’s by design.

IMG_20180706_123601880

Noah Calieri in his shop

Calieri says the main purpose of his shop is as a “showcase for the amateur artist, somebody that’s not already selling their art….It’s awesome that people just make art and nobody looks at a lot of it. I want that to be where the spotlight is.”

So he envisions having a lot of “little” art shows to highlight these occasional artists and help them celebrate their work. He’s even playing around with the adorable idea of having an art show for toddlers or maybe a stick-figure competition. He’d hang their “art” on the walls, and have all the kids come together for an art-themed play date.

But as much as Press On Main is about artists, it’s mostly about screen printing. Calieri is first and foremost a graphic designer and screen printer. His services are geared especially for businesses and organizations who need smaller lots of t-shirts, like for staff members or 5K races. But what he’s really hoping to do is use his screen-printing expertise to help artists recreate their art, duplicate it and display it on a variety of media.

“I’ll give (artists) a service to do posters, t-shirts, just about any media that we can put a print on,” even including things like canvas or wood. The options are really endless. Just check out the rainbow-colored cowboy hats in the front window.

Calieri is still finishing up some paperwork with the town, so he can’t sell anything from his storefront quite yet. And he doesn’t even have any regular hours; they’ll be established when he has his grand opening, tentatively planned for early August.

But when you see the front door propped open, make sure to stop in and say hi to Noah. Then keep an eye on this little shop, because I think it’s going to do big things for our village.

Press On Main is located at 21 East Main Street in the village of Webster. They’re not on Facebook or have a website yet, but you can connect with them on Instagram at 21EMainArt.

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Plank North students in the news

6 Jul

IMG_1343

Just a quick shout-out to two young Plank North Elementary School students who were recently featured on WROC-TV news.

Gabby and Mia Fallone were interviewed on the July 4th, 5:30 p.m. newscast about the school’s recent Jar Wars competition, which was held in anticipation of the end-of-year Field Day.

There’s a dunk tank at the Field Day every year, and every year a handful of teachers vie for the honor of being the one to get dunked. Their photos are plastered to a series of jars set up in the school’s front hallway, and students drop their coins and dollars into the jar of the teacher they’d like to see in the tank. All the proceeds are donated to Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Jar Wars raised $246.38 this year for the hospital. Gabby and Mia presented the check in person last week, and the event was covered by WROC.

Click here for a link to the video.

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Make a rain barrel — be an H20 hero

5 Jul

shipbuilders creek

Early last week I attended a Town of Webster meet-and-greet at the public library, where I met Sydney VanWinkle, who was representing an environmental organization called H20Hero.org. They’re working hard to protect our local water supplies, a precious natural resource.

One of their primary focuses right now is an area called Shipbuilders Creek Watershed, which encompasses (very roughly) the area from Bay Rd. east to Five Mile Line Rd., and Plank Rd. north to the lake. (See the map for specifics.)

When she found out that I live in the watershed, Sydney’s eyes got really big. It’s homeowners like me, who live in the watershed, that she’s particularly interested in reaching, because if we each do a little bit, together we can help their cause immensely.

Here’s a little background information from the brochure I picked up:

Shipbuilders Creek is an eight square mile watershed…discharging into Lake Ontario.

Over the years, the original land use of the watershed has gone from primarily agricultural to a mix of residential and commercial use, including relatively heavy commercialized areas along Empire Boulevard and Ridge Road.

Unfortunately, as the community developed, the value of the Creek as a resource was not always recognized, Sections have been piped, and water quality declined because of pollution from storm runoff.

And this is what we can do:

You can help restore Shipbuilders Creek by making your home part of the solution to storm water pollution. Storm water runoff from roofs and driveways transports pollutants including fertilizers, herbicides, grass clippings, sediment, automotive fluids and bacteria to the Creek.

Downspout connections, rain barrels, rain gardens and streamside plantings are easy ways you can capture and reuse rainwater, or soak it into the grounds, so that it does not become storm water runoff.

rain barrellThere’s a really good opportunity for you to find out more about all of this, and make a rain barrel for your own home, coming up at the Webster Public Library.

On Tuesday July 17, the library will host a Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens Workshop beginning at 6 p.m. Any and all town residents — especially those who live in the Shipbuilders Creek watershed — are encouraged to attend.

In addition to learning about rain barrels and rain gardens, participants will build their own rain barrel which they can then take home with them and start putting to good use.

All tools and materials will be supplied at the workshop. Workshop fee is $40/rain barrel. Pre-registration is required. To do so, click here.  Residents from the watershed area will also receive a $30 gift card for plantings.

If you can’t wait until then to find out more, Sydney will be at the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market this Saturday July 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Webster Towne Center (Kohl’s/ Target Plaza) on Holt Road.

In the meantime, you can read more about the project by clicking here, or email Sydney directly at srv7357@rit.edu.

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Webster Firemen’s Parade 2018 — the details

4 Jul

firetrucks

This morning I noticed that a lot of people were clicking on the blog I wrote in May about the village’s Memorial Day parade. I suspect that people REALLY don’t want to know about that parade, but instead are searching for information about the upcoming Firemen’s Parade.

So here, quickly, are the details. I’ll write a more complete blog about the parade and the carnival itself soon.

The Webster Firemen’s Parade begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday July 12 from the corner of Phillips and Ridge roads, travels west down Main Street, ending at Firemen’s Field in the village.

This is a huge parade. It will last 90 minutes or more. People start staking out their viewing spots the night before. If the weather stays this nice, you won’t want to miss it. Even if it’s not this nice, you won’t want to miss it.

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Village looks to upgrade two of its parks

30 Jun

If you’re a fan of our village parks, here’s something that might interest you:  Our village administrators are looking to make improvements to two of them, Schantz Park on State Rd. and Veterans Memorial Park (Gazebo Park) on North Ave.

A lot of changes are being proposed, all of which can be seen in the photos I’ve included above. You can also click here to see a detailed .pdf document:  2018.06.26 DRAFT Webster Parks Public Meeting. But here are some of the highlights:

Improvements to Schantz Park would focus mostly on the southeast portion of the park, adjacent to State Road. The tennis courts, which are infrequently used and are in very poor repair, would be removed entirely. Replacing them would be a much larger parking lot, a pavilion and a natural play area. All would presumably make the park more comfortable and welcoming for families and fans who come to watch ball games played there.

Plans for Veterans Memorial Park are much more extensive.

The biggest change would be the addition of a sidewalk encircling the entire grassy area of the park, expanding into a larger paved area directly in front of the gazebo. The idea here is to encourage better circulation and additional seating area, with the added benefit of providing easier access for those with disabilities.

The veteran’s memorial itself and its gardens would be moved from the southeast corner of the park to the northeast. And fear not, the park will still have a clock, although chances are very good it’s going to be replaced with something as handsome, but a lot less troublesome.

Sculptures, additional plantings, a rain garden, and a decorative gateway will make things look pretty.

While plans have been sketched out for both parks, right now the village is only planning to try for a state grant to work on Veterans Park, and focus on Schantz Park some time in the future.

The proposed upgrades come from recommendations provided by a six-member advisory committee comprised of village and local business representatives. Matt Chatfield, Executive Director of the Webster Economic Development Alliance, explained that the public meeting was the next step in the “quick concept phase” of the proposal.

“The grant application is just the first of many steps in this process,” he said. “If the Village is awarded funding, there will be several additional public involvement opportunities prior to any final design and construction.”

Of course this is going to be a long process (anything involving government administration usually is). The grant application isn’t due until the end of July, and we won’t know until December if we’ve been awarded any funds. If so, then there’s an entire year-long park design process. Construction wouldn’t even begin until late 2020.

No other information/comment gathering sessions are planned at this point. However, if you’d like to share your opinions about the planned improvements, you can fill out this form here. (It only asks your thoughts about Veterans Memorial Park because it’s the only one on the table for now.)

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