Archive | June, 2012

Stories in the Park to honor children’s librarian

30 Jun

I love my readers.

When I mentioned in my blog yesterday that I felt swamped by the grad party I’m having Sunday, I got two separate messages from people wanting to help out.  One was from Amy Weetman, a name you might recognize from a previous blog. Amy was kind enough to teach me how to hula hoop a few months ago.

Turns out that Amy is involved in a project which she’s trying to publicize. She sent me the following write-up, which I am pleased to repost here:

Jason Poole and Adrienne Furness

Stories in the Park, put on by the Webster Public Library, will begin again this summer on Tuesday, July 3 at 10:30 am.  It takes place at Ridge Park under the pavilion on every Tuesday of July, weather permitting. (Ridge Park is the one on Ridge Road behind the Town Hall.)

At the first Stories in the Park we will be celebrating our beloved Children’s Librarian, Miss Adrienne Furness’ last day in Webster.  She has accepted a new position as the Director of the Henrietta Public Library.  Jason and Miss A. have been together at the Webster Public Library for more than eight years and when they do a storytime together, something amazing happens.  We will all miss Miss Adrienne’s stories and finger plays, but are glad we got to have her for so long.

Jason Poole will continue along with a new Children’s Librarian.  Webster is very lucky to have such talented people in our midst entertaining our children and sharing a love of reading.

I am organizing snacks to follow the July 3 Stories in the Park.  Please contact me if you would like to contribute:  If you have any photographs of Story Times that you would like to share, I will be putting together a disc for Adrienne.  Thank you!

And thank you, Amy for being my guest blogger today!


Thumbs down to arsonists

30 Jun

The D&C Saturday morning posted a “thumbs down” in their opinion section to the mindless fools who torched the Bay View YMCA climbing tower a week ago.

It reads:

THUMBS DOWN for the mindless arsonist(s) who Monroe County Fire Bureau say brought on the destruction of a beloved 40-foot climbing tower at the Bay View Family YMCA on Bay Road. Before being reduced to ashes and rubble, this structure was integral to the Bay View Y’s fun, character-building summer camps. The YMCA is trying to raise $100,000 to replace the tower. If you are willing to contribute, please visit or call (585) 341-4084.

Thanks so much to the editorial staff for recognizing what a blow this was to the Bay View campers.   I’m still hoping that someone hears something said by somebody, and the jerks who did this will be brought to justice.  So please keep your ears open.

The good news is, donations are coming in and plans are in the works for fund-raisers.  Stay tuned for more details.

* * *

On a different note, I’ve been a little out of commission these last few days as I try to pull together a graduation party on Sunday for my three children.  My eldest daughter just graduated with her Master’s degree from UB, my son with a music degree from Nazareth College and my youngest daughter from Schroeder High School. We figured one big graduation party would be easier and cheaper.

I wasn’t, however, counting on the stress.

So if I don’t post anything tomorrow morning, that means I’m knee-deep in party prep.  Have a wonderful, safe summer weekend.

Operation School Supplies 2012: An update

27 Jun

In the craziness of the last week, what with the end of school, graduation, that mess at Bay View, and the distraction of preparing for a three-child graduation party this weekend, I totally forgot to post an update on Operation School Supplies 2012.

In a word, it was awesome.

This is what school-supply central (the language lab) looked like at Thomas.

This was the fourth year in a row that students and staff members of Webster Thomas High School and Willink and Spry middle schools teamed up with the non-profit organization Greenseed Educational Supplies to collect new and gently used school supplies which might otherwise have been thrown away at the end of the school year.  And for the first time this year, the staff at Plank Road North Elementary School also joined the effort.

I’m not sure how much the middle schools were able to collect, but I do know that last week I carted 46 BOXES packed with supplies from Thomas High School to the school-supply command center (a spacious science classroom) at Eastridge High School.  They included (big breath here…) 465 three-ring binders, 230 2-pocket folders, 114 spiral notebooks, 66 composition notebooks, 17 cloth book covers, 16 packages of graph paper, 16 packages of index cards, 15 pencil cases, 13 trapper-keepers, 10 boxes of colored pencils, 3 big boxes of loose-leaf paper, plus hundreds of pens and pencils, glue sticks, locker accessories, crayons, markers, pocket dictionaries, string backpacks, sheet protectors, tab dividers, manila file folders, hanging files, and more.


That’s definitely a lot more than we got last year, and that’s a credit to the people at Thomas High School.  Actually, the Webster school district in general has historically been one of effort’s biggest contributors.  According to Mitch Nellis, the mastermind behind this operation,

 Webster has been one of the most generous districts with regard to donating school supplies to our cause. Each year (Webster) schools continue to surprise us with how much they contribute.  We currently work with roughly 18 organizations including numerous city schools to provide supplies that students and teachers would otherwise have to go without.  With budgets being tightened everywhere, Webster Central School District is providing a very necessary charitable service.

Atta way, Webster!

Three of the young volunteers in the command center at Eastridge High. The bulk of the supplies had not yet arrived.

But the kids had everything organized and ready for action when the supplies did start rolling in.

This was the scene in the hallway literally three hours before the school representatives started arriving to choose supplies.

Just a few hours later everything was sorted into boxes and divvied up into separate rooms according to the kind of supplies.

Let the distribution begin!



Some tips on flag etiquette

27 Jun

As Independence Day fast approaches — our nation’s most flag waving-est holiday — the Village of Webster would like to remind everyone about flag etiquette.

Frankly, I think a lot of people could use a refresher course (when you drive around over the next week, count how many flags are hanging backwards off of porches).  But even if you think you’re pretty much up on all the proper regulations, check out the write-up on the village website anyway, because it makes for some interesting reading.

For example, this part of the Flag Code:

The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.

Now I’m going to be looking around all the time to see if this regulation is being followed.  And years ago, wasn’t it forbidden to work the flag into any piece of clothing?  That’s apparently not the case anymore, despite this part of the code which seems to address that:

The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.

The website also tells you where to take your old flag to properly dispose of it.  Click here to find out how.


Somewhat happier news from Webster’s weekend

25 Jun

I really did plan to blog about happier things yesterday, but they went by the wayside when I found out the awful news about the Bay View YMCA climbing wall.  So today let’s get back to some more uplifting news.

The happy graduate

Both Webster high schools graduated on Sunday. Webster Schroeder had the early shift at the RIT Field House, and Webster Thomas followed that afternoon. I was there with my family in the morning to watch my youngest graduate. I have to say I was very impressed with the venue; it was very easy to get in and out, there was plenty of good seating, and the shuttle buses and golf carts that ran from the parking lots for elderly family members (and anyone else who didn’t want to bother walking) were very efficient.  The only thing I heard people griping about was about how cold it was in the field house. The place is overly air conditioned, to the point where people were going outside just to get warm.

The Schroeder ceremony was very nice, and the students’ speeches quite entertaining. (I’ll take the fifth in regards to the administrators’ speeches.)  I’m sure the Thomas graduation was equally enjoyable.  Congratulations to all the graduates this year, and be sure to remember the sage advice from the speeches you heard: Shoot for the stars while you journey to pursue your dreams, guided by strong values that will take you in positive directions, as long as you take the path less traveled, because as the the next generation of leaders you have incredible potential to change the world, because O the places you’ll go.

Or something like that.

* * *

There was a unique event Saturday afternoon at Barry’s Old School Irish that brought several fledgling fiddle players into the little pub/bakery.

It was a fiddle workshop hosted by Barry’s house band, Barry’s Crossing.  Beginning and intermediate fiddle players were invited to attend the free workshop and learn some basic fiddle techniques and a tune.  The event drew five young fiddle players, who in just a half hour, learned to play an entire fiddle tune from start to finish, to the delight of all the parents who stayed to watch.

Not having any musical talent myself, I found it amazing how these young musicians could just hear notes being played, remember what they were, play them back, and step-by-step put a whole tune together. But I guess that’s why they’re musicians and I’m not.

If you’re interested in seeing a bit of the workshop, click on the photo below to see a short video. It’s about 3 minutes long and takes you from the first notes to the final performance.

Click on the photo for a video from the fiddle workshop.

Fire claims Bay View YMCA climbing wall

25 Jun

D&C photo by Justin Murphy. Click to see the D&C article

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news yet out of the Bay View Family YMCA, but someone torched their climbing wall early Sunday morning. Oh, they’re not officially calling it arson yet, but it’s got to be arson; there was no electrical equipment in or around the tower that could have caused a fire.

When I heard the news Sunday afternoon, I just felt sick. I’ve worked at Camp Bay View for years, and I have seen the pure joy of achievement on campers’ faces when, after weeks of trying and trying again, they were finally able to scale that 40-foot wall.  It’s impossible to put a value on the self-confidence and pride that climbing wall has given countless kids.

And now it’s gone.

It also makes me angry to know that whoever did this is going to get away with it.  According to the D&C article I read about it, security cameras are no help, and no one saw anything.

So if we’re not going to be able to see anyone go to jail for this, the next best thing to do is thumb our noses at them and get that rock wall rebuilt as soon as possible. Apparently insurance won’t cover the cost of replacement, so it’s up to the Bay View YMCA community. And if I know anything about Webster, I know this is a community that pulls together when something needs to be done.

There are already rumblings about different fund-raising efforts in the works. As plans come together, I’ll let you all know the details. In the meantime, if you’re interested in making a donation to Bay View to get the ball rolling, you can click here.


It’s a beautiful day to celebrate summer in Webster

23 Jun

How did I forget about this?

Webster’s annual Summer Celebration takes place today at the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Drive.

This celebration started as a sort of the town’s Fourth of July party, and was held at the Firemen’s Field. But it’s outgrown that location, and even though it’s not THAT close to the 4th, it still offers plenty of free fun and entertainment for kids and adults.

It runs from 4-10 pm, and features music and food, and for the kids there’ll be inflatables, a climbing wall, games and crafts. Musical guests include the Brockport Community Band, the Empire Statesmen, and the Skycoasters, whose concert begin at 7:15 and ends with fireworks at 9:45.

Parking will be across the street in the xerox lot, and shuttle buses will be running all day.

Click here for more information.

Friday mailbag

21 Jun

Today’s version of the mailbag is more like the way I always meant it to be; not just a calendar of events, but odds and ends of different comments, events and photos that have recently come across my computer screen.

In that spirit, I’d like to start with a photo I received yesterday from Jen Calus, the PR person for the Webster School District. She sent along with this explanation:

Elementary students throughout the Webster School District celebrated Flag Day on June 14. The students at Klem Road North sang a variety of patriotic songs for family and friends assembled by their flagpole. In this photo, kindergartners belt out “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

The photo was so cute I just had to post it:

 A rather unusual event will be taking place in Webster village Saturday afternoon. It’s a free fiddle workshop hosted by Barry’s Old School Irish’s house band, Barry’s Crossing.  The workshop is designed for advanced beginners and intermediate players, but fiddlers of all ages and skills levels are welcome.  Spectators are encouraged, and everyone is invited to hang around after the workshop for a short fiddle set by Sarah and Sean of Barry’s Crossing.

The half-hour workshop will begin at 3 pm at Barry’s Old School Irish, 2 West Main Street, Webster. There is no charge.

* * *

This news about a very nice event hosted by some of our high school kids, also comes from my colleague Jen Calus:

For the second year in a row, the Webster Thomas High School cross country team will hold a 12-hour relay to raise funds for Reece’s Rainbow, an organization that helps facilitate international adoptions of children with Down Syndrome. The event will be held at the Webster Thomas track tomorrow, Saturday June 23, from 9 am to 9 pm.  Last year the team raised more than $2700.  To find out more about the event and how to donate to this great cause, click on the photo of Ashlyn on the left.

* * *

Important reminder: This is the first weekend that the NYS DOT has chosen to close half of the Irondequoit Bay Bridge.

All westbound lanes of the Irondequoit Bay Bridge will be closed beginning tonight (Friday June 22) at 8 pm, and will not reopen until early Monday morning.

This is going to cause major headaches, especially since both high school graduations will be taking place Saturday morning at RIT. So if you have anyone coming into town for those, make sure to advise them to avoid 104 West. Or Empire Blvd., for that matter. I recommend everyone head south to 286 and 441 and get on 590 well south of the city.


The Village Band adds even more music to Webster summer

21 Jun

Several days ago Mayor Peter Elder was kind enough to drop me an email about last week’s Village Band Concert. It made me think that in my recent blogs about this summer’s village events. I totally forgot to mention this wonderful musical treasure we have here in Webster.

The Village Band plays six more times this summer — just about every other Thursday night — in the Gerald R. Barrett Bandshell at Harmony Park, at the corner of Phillips Road and Foster Drive, just south of Ridge Road.

The band played a selection of pieces in honor of Flag Day. They also flew a special flag which was flown on several missions

Mayor Elder introduces the band.

(including in Korea), donated by a village resident.  In these photos from the event, you’ll also see one of Elder rededicating a new plaque in honor of former band director Gerald Barrett. The original one was defaced by vandals a few years ago.

The band’s next concert is Thursday June 28, starting at 7 pm.   Click here to see the entire schedule.







Dedicating the new plaque.


The best of the best: My readers sound off on their favorite teachers

18 Jun

A big thank you to everyone who answered my recent call for names of great Webster teachers. I heard from ten different people, parents and students alike, who told me about 13 teachers in our district who have really touched their lives.

On this last day of the 2011-12 school year, I am pleased to post their comments here, and recognize some outstanding Webster educators. I’ll start with a shout-out to several teachers from Schlegel Road Elementary School.  Janet Sander wrote,

Leslie Ambler with her family (pulled this from her classroom website)

My vote goes to Don Russo, band teacher at Schlegel Road school. (He split his time teaching at both Schlegel and DeWitt.) He impressed me by not only being a very good teacher, but he seemed to have a way of getting to know your student as if that student was the only one he taught.

And her daughter Kristen wanted to recognize Schlegel first grade teacher Greg Pittman, because “He was funny.” Lori McCoy Sozio added,

Mrs. Leslie Ambler and Mrs. Marcy Dungey are both exceptional at Schlegel Road. They go above and beyond every single day. My children have been so fortunate to be educated by two amazing teachers!!!

Klem North Elementary’s name also popped up a couple of times in my emails. The first was from The Myers family, who wrote,

Pamela Smith

I would like to submit Mrs. Pamela Smith, a third grade teacher at Klem North.  Not only has she been an excellentteacher academically, but the rapport she has developed with the students is something special.  Her interactions with our daughter have helped to make this a truly exceptional year, and she should be recognized for that excellence.

Also from Klem North, Christina Jones Dowling wrote,

Mary Vorrasi and Kathleen Lawson from Klem North go above and beyond their teacher duties to make every kid feel loved and supported.

…and Brenna McKane “voted” for Mrs. Nancy Ann  Nesbitt, her fifth grade teacher at Klem North, because she was “nice and fun.”

Kathy Lawson

Chris Beh wrote in to recognize State Road Elementary teacher Diane McCaferty (formerly Miss Horn), saying,

Our son Brendan had Miss Horn as his first grade teacher at State Road.  She was wonderful in many ways…compassionate, caring, firm and an exceptional reading teacher.  He flourished under her teaching.

Jen Sander told me about three teachers who made a difference in her life:

Stephanie Manning at Willink Middle School was the sweetest teacher I’ve ever had. I was picked on a lot in middle school and Mrs. Manning was always a friendly face. I always knew that if I needed a teacher to talk to, her door was always open.

Jen Sander with Mrs. Manning in 2002

 Steve Landgren (music teacher at Webster Thomas High School): I don’t think I ever saw Mr. Landgren without a smile on his face. He’s extremely passionate about teaching; He loves music and he makes his students love it with him. Band is one of this things I miss most from high school. I was sad to hear he was retiring this year, but if anyone deserves it, it’s him. The Thomas Music Department won’t be the same without him.

Greg Ahlquist (social studies teacher at Thomas): Not a shock, since I’ve never met any student who didn’t like Mr. Ahlquist’s class. Mr. Ahlquist is also extremely passionate about his work. His enthusiasm during his lessons captivates his students… Even if you didn’t like what he was teaching you’d still find yourself being drawn in to his lectures.

Greg Ahlquist

Jen’s brother Ryan also recognized Ahlquist, from whom he took AP World History this year, saying “Mr. Ahlquist has the ability to cover all the curriculum and then some, and still make it fun.”

Ryan also mentioned another Webster Thomas teacher, but I have left that name for last, since this particular teacher got two mentions, from two separate readers. That would Mike Mitchell, who teaches Living Environment at Webster Thomas.

Ryan described Mitchell as “just a goofball,” adding that “he makes classes fun but his students know when it’s time to get serious.”

I received this second email about Mitchell just yesterday, from Webster Thomas senior Katie Epner:

Mike Mitchell

Michael Mitchell is a sophomore year biology teacher at Webster Thomas. It’s been two years since he has taught me, but like many other of his past students, I am still in his classroom a majority of the day. He is more than a teacher. He is a true friend to so many. His room is a Mecca calling to any student, familiar to him or not, as a safe get-away from the droning halls of the school. Speaking personally, Mr. Mitchell (who I, along with everyone else, refer to as ‘Mitchell’) has been more than a teacher. Our relationship began freshman year when my sophomore friend had him as a teacher and hung around his room during our lunch blocks. Mr. Mitchell has an incredible ability of connecting with students, and in high school, a friendship that develops with him is the best thing to have.

As I graduate this weekend, I will walk across the stage and the most vivid memory I will be walking on from is my time spent during my lone blocks in room 32. Every yearbook has been inscribed with great memories and messages from each of us, but this year was different. I am very emotional to move on from this friendship, as I have befriended many upperclassmen who have moved on, Mr. Mitchell has always been there. Signing his yearbook for the last time, I was dodging the book from tears…

…he is so deserving of this recognition for being the most personable and welcoming faculty member at Webster Thomas.

Kudos to all the great Webster Central School District teachers we have mentioned here for truly making a difference in the lives of your students.  I know there are a lot more great teachers out there. In my job as a teaching assistant I see them every day, and there are too many for just one blog.

So to all of out there who have dedicated your lives to guiding our children, who open your hearts every day while you open their minds, we say