Archive | August, 2012

Changes in start times mark new school year

31 Aug

It’s hard to go anywhere these days without hearing moms and kids or moms and moms chatting about the beginning of the new school year. And several of those conversations have involved the schools’ new start times.

If you have kids in the Webster schools, you certainly already know about the new start times. In past years, school start times have been staggered — for example, Plank North and Plank South started about an hour apart. This year for the first time, all the elementary schools in the district will open their doors within minutes of each other, around 9 am.  The secondary schools will start earlier, as usual, but will also all open at about the same time, around 7:30 am. (For details, check the WCSD website.)

I’ve heard the rationale behind this explained a few times, and am still trying to get my head around it. Here’s the official explanation from Carm Gumina, Deputy Superintendent of the Webster Central School District:

The State’s move to a new Common Core Curriculum and new assessments based on this Common Core was certainly a significant driverfor the change.  The opportunity to add 40-60 hours of core instructional time for our 4th and 5th graders in a way that is tax-neutral was just as significant.

How did we “add 40-60 hours of core instructional time?”   Activity period (band/orchestra/chorus/intramurals/art club) has traditionally been during the school day, and when 4th/5th graders would leave their classrooms to attend these activities, the core instructional day would essentially stop for that 45 minute block of time. Now activity period will be before school on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fridays (Wednesdays are meeting days for teachers).  Students signed up for their activities last May/June, but will be able to sign up when school starts as well.  Busing will be provided before school as well.

I’m told that because the activity period lands before the school day instead of middle of the day, kids will be less hesitant to leave classroom to do an activity. So the change creates opportunities for kids to try more things.

Carm’s detailed explanation doesn’t specifically address why the start times were changed for the secondary schools as well, but I know it is closely tied to the Common Core Curriculum and its recommendations.

These new start times will require some adjustment for parents. Some will appreciate the later start times that several of the elementary schools are implementing. But that will also mean later release times, which could affect after-school activities. For others, their children will have to get used to waking up an hour earlier, an idea which I’m sure does NOT sit well with the kids.  And it will be interesting to see what the traffic is like on Publisher’s Parkway in the morning with both Thomas High School and Willink Middle School starting within 15 minutes of each other.

Several elementary schools are also seeing some shifting in their populations this fall. Specifically, many Klem South Elementary students will be transferring to Schlegel and Dewitt, some Plank North students will go to Plank South, and some State Road students will go to Schlegel Road. The changes will affect somewhere between 115 and 125 students.

Director of Communications Ann Carmody explained that the changes are in response to recent growth in the Webster population, which has been steady in recent years, but favored particular neighborhoods.  Lately that growth has stabilized, so the district figured it would be a good time to reassign some of those neighborhoods and “rebalance” the schools to attain optimal class sizes.


Checking in with some awesome local businesses

31 Aug

I spent much of the day yesterday traveling around town lining up raffle prizes for the Trucks for the Tower Food Rodeo benefit in which I’m involved. And with every stop, I was reminded how generous and community-minded our local businesspeople are.

Almost without fail, every time I walked into a business, I walked out with a prize in hand, or promise of one to come.  Many of the business owners had heard about the event which sparked this benefit — the arson fire which destroyed the Bay View YMCA climbing tower earlier this summer — and more than pleased to do something to help the cause. But even if they hadn’t heard about it, they were still willing to help out.

I just love this town.

As an added benefit to my tours around town, I’ve reconnected with many business owners I haven’t seen in a long time. And in a few cases, I found out about some exciting changes in their businesses.

Take BayTowne Liquor, for example, in BayTowne Plaza. When I walked into their shop yesterday, I was taken aback at how airy and wide open things looked, much less crowded than I remembered from earlier visits.  It turns out that BayTowne has recently undergone a major renovation.

I spoke with Erin Pries, VP of Marketing, who told me that plans for the renovations have been in the works since the store changed ownership two years ago. When the time was right, those plans were put in motion and the place was “remodeled top to bottom,” including new flooring, walls and brickwork.  Plus, they expanded into the adjacent vitamin store, giving them more space to add products, and introduce special events like their Friday and Saturday afternoon wine tastings.

BayTowne Liquor had their official grand opening in March, but the place still looks brand spanking new. Check it out for yourself.  You’ll find them in BayTowne Plaza between Premier Fitness and WalMart.

Local business helps city school

31 Aug

I love helping to promote events where local people are going out of their way to help others.  This item fits the bill perfectly.

The folks at Henderson Ford in Webster are sponsoring a book drive to benefit City of Rochester School #52. People are encouraged to donate new or gently used books, for children ages 6-12 (grades 1-6). The books can be dropped off through September 1 in one of four boxes located around the Henderson Ford dealership, 810 Ridge Road in Webster, or at one of these other locations throughout the Rochester area:

Edge Advertising Group, 6 N. Main Street, Fairport
Dixon Schwabl, 1595 Moseley Road, Victor
A Different Point of View, 2920 Monroe Avenue, Rochester
Omero’s Clothes, 274 Silver Fox Circle, Rochester

You’ll often hear about book drives throughout the school year, but I love the timing of this one because it lands just before the school year begins. I can just imagine how excited the kids are when they get to choose a brand new book just as school starts.

According to Megan, my contact at Henderson Ford, this is the second year the dealership has sponsored the book drive. But “we’ve upped the ante this year,” she reported. Last year they collected almost 1,000 books, almost enough to fill new Ford Escape. This year they’re aiming to fill a new Ford Focus.

Wow. A car filled with books. What a great goal.  Please help them reach it.



Wisdom from the young

27 Aug

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a bench at Wegmans, next to to the store’s child care area, waiting for my husband to finish up some shopping. At one point, a mother came to pick up her daughter, who bounced excitedly through the door with this report: “Hey Mommy, Alissa is my new best friend!”

If only adults could have the same approach to life, and to the new people they meet, this world would be a much better place.

Spam, spam, spam

26 Aug

Looking for some cheap entertainment? Poke through your spam folder sometime. Don’t worry, if you don’t actually click on a link, you’re safe. I do this every once in a while when I get bored. I visit my Gmail spam folder and see how many people want to give me money or need help carrying all their money-stuffed suitcases to the United States, or consider me a perfect candidate for a cheap loan. (I don’t get the male enhancement ads very much anymore. Maybe they wised up.)

So those always make me giggle. But if I’m in the mood for some real gut-breaking laughs, I check the spam comments I get on my WordPress blog. Most of them try to commend me on my excellent blog and insightful comments. I think. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.  Here’s an example (and I swear, I did not edit this for clarity):

I wanted to post you that very small remark in order to say thanks a lot as before with your spectacular suggestions you’ve shown here. This is simply remarkably open-handed of people like you to offer unreservedly exactly what a number of people would have offered as an e book in order to make some cash for their own end, notably seeing that you might have tried it in case you wanted. These tactics also acted to be the great way to recognize that the rest have similar zeal just as mine to understand a little more with regard to this matter. Certainly there are thousands of more fun instances up front for folks who read your site.

Thanks. I guess?

Webster is pulling together to rebuild tower

23 Aug

The Webster community has been pulling together in a big way to help raise funds to rebuild the Bay View Family YMCA Climbing Tower.

You probably remember what happened: On June 24, the day before summer camp began, the 45-foot climbing tower at the Bay View Family YMCA was set on fire by arsonists. The entire tower was destroyed, including much of the climbing equipment and the popular zip line feature. It was a devastating blow to the YMCA community, all of the kids who used it every day at camp, and the families who tackled its challenges each evening.

Insurance did not completely cover the cost of replacing the wall, so fund-raising efforts began almost immediately. The campers even got involved. The preschoolers put out jars to collect change. Camp Bay View camper Joey Gerard has already raised thousands by selling woven bracelets.

But lots more money is needed, because the Y has some ambitious plans for the new tower. As they describe in one flyer:

The vision for the Bay View Family YMCA is the development of a multi-sided climbing structure that accommodates five climbers at one time on automatic hydraulic belays. In addition, a stair tower would be constructed to support dual zip lines allowing multiple children and adults to simultaneously zip. The YMCA is also seeking to enhance the surrounding area for children to “boulder” before actually climbing a tower. Bouldering provides children a wonderful introduction to rock climbing at a low height.

What is particularly exciting about the plans is that everything will be handicap-accessible, including the zip-line.

YMCA staff members, local business people and community leaders have already met several times to determine the best ways to raise the big money needed for these big plans.  They’re developed a two-pronged approach: solicit corporate sponsorship donations (for the bigger money) and hold an awesomely entertaining fund-raising event for everybody who doesn’t have big money, but still wants to help out in some way.

Here are some details:

If you work at a business which would like to become a corporate sponsor for this effort, there are several levels available, starting at $500. All include your company’s name permanently displayed on a plaque at the new climbing center.  Click here  to download a brochure with more details.

If you would like to attend an awesomely entertaining fund-raising event to show your support, you’re in luck.  A huge Food Truck Rodeo and Family Festival is being planned for Friday Sept. 14 at the Damascus Shrine Center, 979 Bay Road in Webster. If you’ve never heard about these things (I hadn’t), basically a Food Truck Rodeo is when a whole bunch of food trucks descend on one place at one time. It’s kind of like a mini State Fair, with all kinds of great dinner and dessert items at your fingertips. These events are apparently very popular, so much so that their fans follow them around.

This event will also feature lots of things for both kids and adults. Details are still being finalized, but there are plans for a bounce house and/or obstacle course, a dunk booth, face painting, live entertainment, raffles and more.  Plus lots of food, of course.

Once again, here are the details:

Food Truck Rodeo and Family Festival
to benefit the Rebuild the Climbing Wall Fund of the Bay View Family YMCA
Friday, September 14, 5-9 pm
Damascus Shrine Center, 979 Bay Road, Webster

Click here to go the event’s Facebook page for more information

If you or someone you know can donate a raffle prize for this event, please let me know by emailing me at All businesses who donate a prize will be recognized on big signboards placed at the entrance to the festival.


The end of an era.

22 Aug

The way it was.

It was a sad day along Empire Blvd. today. The Lipinski sign, which has stood tall and proud at the corner of Terrel Drive for more years than I can remember, finally came down.

It was more than four years ago that the corner hardware store closed its doors and the property’s new owners completely gutted the old building, turning it into the gingerbread-house-like strip plaza that it is now.  Several new tenants have moved in over the years (and one came and left), but through it all the sign has stood tall, almost in defiance of the redevelopment.

I had heard from a friend that this day would soon be coming, but secretly I hoped it never would. I always enjoyed seeing the Lipinski Bros. sign every time I passed by. To me it was a sign of simpler times, of family-owned businesses where the owners knew your name and greeted you personally every time you walked in.

So I guess this is a final good-bye to Lipinski Bros., our old friends. We will miss you.

The scene today at what I will forever and always refer to as “Lipinski’s Corner.”

This was a sad sight.

Webster Thomas grad helped land rover on Mars

20 Aug

Eric Blood (courtesy CMU website)

If you’ve been following the recent news about the rover that NASA just landed on Mars, you’ll probably be interested to know that a Webster Thomas grad had a hand in its success.

Eric Blood graduated from Webster Thomas in 2006, and went on to earn a masters degree in engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010. Following graduation he got a job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he was assigned to work with the Mars rover team.

As part of the rover’s engineering operations team, Blood oversees the vehicle’s thermal, power, avionics, data management and telecom systems. His position means that he was one of the very first scientists to get a look at the images the rover sent back from the surface of Mars.

That’s more than cool.

Once again Webster students are making their town proud.  Read more about Eric and his work on the Carnegie Mellon University website. And watch for a personal interview in this month’s Webster Schools newsletter, which should be hitting mailboxes within the next few weeks.

Scenes around town

17 Aug

OK, I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I was planning to post this blog more than a week ago before I left on vacation. But I was sitting on it while I awaited more information. Then when it finally arrived I totally wrote a whole new blog with it and forgot about this one.

I just came across it again. So consider this a bonus blog.

* * *

The following photo and caption were submitted by my friend Kelly Mutschler, who’s a little proud of what her daughter Maggie and her volleyball teammates are doing for the community.

Members of the Webster Schroeder Volleyball team spent time a few weeks ago volunteering with the American Cancer Society. The girls assembled kits for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, which will  be distributed to the attendees of the kickoff breakfasts in Rochester and Waterloo this month.  Jessica Shatzel, a fundraising coach for this event, said,

It was my pleasure to work with the Webster Schroeder Girls Volleyball team who came to volunteer at the American Cancer Society’s Lakes Office in Rochester. The girls were here from 9 am until 1 pm and in that short time were able to assemble about 800 team leader kits for our upcoming Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kickoff Breakfast. This was no small task as folders needed to be stuffed, tee shirts folded and ribbons tied, but they kept a positive and hardworking attitude throughout, an excellent representation of both the school and the athletic department. I am so grateful for all of their help! Without volunteers like these girls, events like this would not be possible.

Front row: Ciara Lutz, Cailyn Hart, Deanna Callerame and Jane Vanvessem. Back row: Cassie Campbell, Maggie Mutschler and Courtney Miller.

These are the same ladies who are holding the mattress fundraiser tomorrow which I mentioned in my Thursday blog.  Click here for more information and for a $50 coupon.

This next photo is one I snapped a few weeks ago at Barry’s Old School Irish, where I was was having a gabfest with my friend and colleague Carol Klem. While our meeting was going on, at the next table over, several of the ladies from the Webster Museum’s Historic properties Committee were also meeting.  They were starting to plan out which local homes would be recognized this year for their historic significance.

Webster owes this committee a debt of gratitude for regularly reminding us that our town has a very rich and exciting history.

And speaking of Barry’s Old School Irish, the little pub/bakery on Webster’s Four Corners will host a second Fiddle Workshop tomorrow from 3-4 pm.

The free workshop will be led by Barry’s Crossing fiddle-meister Sean Rosenberry. It’s designed for advanced beginners and intermediate players, but fiddlers of all ages and skill levels are welcome, and participants are invited to bring other traditional Irish instruments as well.  Spectators are encouraged. Following the workshop, Sarah and Sean of Barry’s Crossing will perform a short fiddle set.

While family and friends watch, young fiddlers perform the tune they just learned at the first Fiddle Workshop in June.

For more information about the workshop, visit the Barry’s Crossing website and choose the “Shows” tab.

Barry’s Old School Irish is located at 2 West Main Street, smack dab in the middle of the Village of Webster. There is no charge for the workshop.


The Maplewood? Where’s THAT?

16 Aug

One of the Village of Webster’s most established businesses is having a coming-out party.

The Maplewood Nursing and Rehabilitation home on Daniel Drive is close to completing a year-long construction project which will ultimately create a new Main Street entrance for the facility.

You’ll notice I didn’t call The Maplewood one of the Webster’s most “well-known” businesses. Despite having settled on Daniel Drive in 1976, because it’s tucked back off of Main Street, a lot of people don’t even know it’s there. And that’s the problem.  Administrator Greg Chambery explained,

For some businesses, being tucked away on a little side street is an advantage but for The Maplewood it’s been a hardship and a challenge. Time and again we miss being able to help people because they don’t know about us.

Click on the image to get a closer look at the planned driveway.

So more than a year ago, plans were put in motion to create a brand new Main Street entrance. You’ve no doubt seen the construction equipment parked up there on West Main. Look just beyond it and down the hill, and you’ll also notice something you haven’t been able to easily see from that vantage point before: The Maplewood.

The new driveway will be located between 93 West Main (The Dean House) and 109 West Main (Webster Automotive). The reconfigured entrance will also provide additional parking for residents, families and visitors, which will greatly reduce the crowding which often occurs in the existing lots.

But the part of the plan I particularly like is the new wheelchair ramp which will lead directly from the facility up to Main Street. Its switchback design and handicapped-accessible grade will allow residents and their families to easily navigate the rather steep hill between The Maplewood and Main Street, rather than having to travel all the way around Daniel Drive.  This feature alone will do wonders to help residents attend village events and really become a part of the local community. Or, as Chambery put it, it will “pull the nursing home into the village and village to the nursing home”

Construction should be completed by early October.