Archive | October, 2012

A follow-up on some good deeds

17 Oct

Students from Rochester City School 52 helped Randy Henderson unload books from a 2013 Ford Escape.

A quick follow-up today on a blog I posted a few months ago about a local business’ effort to help city schools.

Throughout the month of August, Henderson Ford held their annual Fill a Ford Book Drive.  New and used books for children ages 6-12 were collected at the dealership and several local businesses.  The Henderson folks report that it was a very successful effort; 1,203 books were collected and donated to students at Rochester City School Number 52, Frank Fowler Dow Elementary School.

The press release did not indicate whether that was enough books to actually fill a Ford.

Henderson Ford President Randy Henderson and Business Development Director Aki Henderson personally delivered the books to School 52 in a 2013 Ford Escape on September 11. The students welcomed them at an assembly where Randy Henderson spoke about the importance of reading.

Randy Henderson talked with students at School 52 about the importance of reading after dropping donated books off at the school.

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I also wanted to recognize State Road School on a terrific accomplishment I heard about yesterday from the school district.

Last week the American Heart Association announced that State Road Elementary School came in first place for Division 2 New York State schools in the annual Jump Rope for Heart/Hoops for Heart event.  State Road students raised more than $10,200 in the event, held last March.

Plank Road South also has something to cheer about — they came in third place, by raising more than $16,400.  Congratulations to the students at both schools for a tremendous accomplishment and dedication to a good cause.

A student at State Road Elementary School jumps for the record in March.

What’s going on behind the library?

16 Oct

A few readers have asked me that question recently, which means that many other people are almost certainly wondering the same.

This graphic accompanied the blog I wrote about the land swap back in March 2011. It shows the plaza and Van Ingen Drive before construction.

The short answer is that the owners of Webster Plaza are creating some new parking behind Savers.  The project involves re-routing Van Ingen Drive — the road which allows Town Hall access from Hard Road — and has required taking down some trees.  The work should be completed by the end of the month. Next year the Town plans to work with the Friends of Webster Trails to create some trails in the remaining parkland.

The project has been in the works for more than a year, when the plaza owners first asked the Town Board to rescind the easement rights the Town had been granted, so that more parking could be put in for the proposed Savers store.

This is where the story gets a little complicated.  The Town proposed a land swap involving property at Yankee Stadium on Boulter Parkway (apparently a new parking lot was needed there as well), the whole thing went up for public comment, and a deal was struck. Supervisor Ron Nesbitt detailed the process for me in a recent email. I’ve posted it on my blog Facebook page.  Click here if you’d like to read that and get the long story.

Bottom line is, a new Van Ingen Drive will be created, which will now be a dedicated Town access road.  Trees are coming down and a parking lot is going up.  The amount of parkland back there is now smaller.  But it’s not the end of the world as we know it.

Frankly, before this project began, I never even realized there was a park back there, despite all the times I have taken that shortcut behind the plaza.  The way I see it, this little park is getting reborn. Once the Friends of Webster Trails get their hands on it and create some new hiking trails, it will finally get the appreciation it deserves.


Tuesday Webster Mailbag

15 Oct

There are so many things happening in the next week or two, I’m afraid they’re going to start falling through the cracks. So here’s an unusually early mailbag.

The Webster Town Board will hold a public hearing on the 2013 budget this Thursday night October 18.  Residents are encouraged to attend to ask questions about the budget, published in its entirety last week in the Webster Herald.  There will be time to comment on any line item and department. The meeting begins at 7:30 pm at the Webster Town Hall, 1000 Ridge Road.

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Check out Operation BLUE this Saturday October 20, a full day of events sponsored by the Webster Marching Band at Webster Schroeder High School.  Operation BLUE 2012 is an open house and clinic held in the stadium from 2-4 pm. This clinic is free of charge and is offered to any Webster School District student in grades 4-12 interested in color guard, dance, percussion, woodwinds or brass. Interested musicians should bring their own instruments. A parent information session will also be held.

That evening is the band’s annual Autumn Fanfare, a field band competition featuring eight bands from across New York State. The event starts at 6 pm and tickets are available at the door for $6. Students participating in events earlier in the day will receive one free ticket.

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Webster’s second Cash Mob also takes place Saturday, from 1-3 pm. This month’s target is the Art Stop, 10 North Avenue, just steps from the village’s four corners.  Stop by, drop a few bucks, and help give a small business an economic jolt.  Cash mobbers will meet afterwards at Barry’s Old School Irish for a pint and a scone.

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Weather permitting, the Webster Highway Department will begin its autumn leaf collection on Monday October 22. Trucks will pass through town every week through Monday November 26, when they make one final west-side-to-east-side sweep. If you have any specific questions, contact the Highway Department at 872-1443, Monday through Friday between 7 am and 3:30 pm.

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The Music at Immanuel Concert Series will feature Warner Iverson performing on Baroque Guitar on Friday October 26, beginning at 7 pm.

Warner Iversen is a multi-instrumentalist currently pursuing a doctoral degree with a double major in classical guitar and early music from the Eastman School of Music. Mr. Iversen has performed as a guest artist at the Juilliard School of Music, NYC and at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana. He recently made his debut as a musical director in a production of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis.

The concert is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow. A free will offering to benefit the Music at Immanuel Concert Series will be received.  Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 131 West Main Street, Webster, at the corner of Daniel Drive. Parking is available behind the church. For more information, go to

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Make sure to make time a Saturday, October 27 to celebrate Halloween in the Village and Trick or Treat Trail.  You can click here for details, but briefly, you can look forward to donuts & cider, the annual costume contest, the scarecrow contest, a pet costume contest and parade, pumpkin painting, and of course trick-or treating all through the village.

The Webster Museum will also have some special events that day, from 11:30 am -4 pm. You can solve some mysteries and get some candy.  So make sure you stop by — 18 Lapham Park. More information at

If you’re planning to make a scarecrow for the contest, time is running out. Check out the details here and get working!

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That evening, Webster’s favorite little Irish Pub, Barry’s Old School Irish, will celebrate its one-year anniversary.  Everybody who’s anybody in the village will be there.  Actually, I think they’re planning special events all week to celebrate, but make sure you’re there on Saturday night to celebrate with an entire village.

Photos from the Homecoming Parade

14 Oct

What a spectacular morning it was yesterday for the second annual Homecoming Parade in the Village of Webster.  It’s worth saying again — what a great opportunity it was for the community to come out and celebrate BOTH schools’ accomplishments, to remind ourselves we are ONE community and not divided by what others have chosen as high school boundaries.

Three readers so far have answered my call for photos. Thank you to Jodie, Elizabeth Cameron and my friend Christine Reynolds for sending theirs along yesterday.  I’ve posted a few here and the rest on a Facebook gallery which you can access by clicking here or any of the photos.

I’d love to get even more photos to add to the gallery. Please send me your favorites at, and tell me what you thought about the parade this year.

Webster Thomas teacher named New York State Teacher of the Year

11 Oct

According to Webster Thomas social studies teacher Greg Ahlquist, students are like a tube of toothpaste.

I’ll explain shortly what Ahlquist meant by that.  But suffice it to say, that kind of thinking is just one of many reasons Greg Ahlquist was named by the Board of Regents this week as the 2013 New York State Teacher of the Year.

Some of the hundreds of Thomas students and staff members who attended yesterday’s assembly.

Ahlquist made that analogy yesterday as he stood at a podium on the Webster Thomas stage, toothpaste tube in hand, and addressed an auditorium filled to capacity with Thomas students and staff members, administrators, Board of Education members, and local media representatives.  Ahlquist had officially received the award in a ceremony held Wednesday in Albany.  Yesterday’s assembly was a chance for the Webster Thomas family to congratulate him on his achievement.

Ahlquist is a Webster native and 1991 Webster Thomas High School graduate. He has been teaching social studies in the Webster School District since 2000, including AP World History, AP European History and a Holocaust elective. He currently serves as Lead Teacher for the entire Advanced Placement (AP) Program at Webster Thomas.

As New York’s Teacher of the Year, Ahlquist will represent the state’s more than 200,000 teachers, and speak at events around the state.  He is also in the running for the national award.

In 2007 Ahlquist was one of the five finalists for Teacher of the Year. He didn’t know he had won this year’s award until it was announced at the ceremony in Albany on Wednesday.

Ahlquist, center, with Webster Thomas principal Glenn Widor, Superintendent Adele Bovard, and students Douglas Pagani and Brenna Mason.

Now back to the toothpaste.  As Ahlquist displayed a thoroughly flattened toothpaste tube to the Webster Thomas audience, he described how he’d had to rescue it from his wife, who wanted to throw it away, assuming that no more toothpaste could be gotten from it. But he knew better. With some gentle coaxing and judiciously applied pressure, he could get another week’s worth of toothpaste out of that tube.

And so it is with students, he explained. “A great teacher sees potential (in a student) where others see very little.”

Congratulations, Greg.  You make the Town of Webster, the Webster School District, and Webster Thomas very proud.  I am honored to be a colleague.

(Photos courtesy Jen Calus, Webster Central School District)

Ladies and gentlemen, start your wallets!

10 Oct

The time and location of the next Webster Cash Mob has officially been announced.

If you’ve never heard of a “cash mob,” the idea is simple. It’s kind of like a “flash mob,” where people show up at a specified time and perform some sort of choreographed dance routine or activity.  In a cash mob, local residents show up at a predetermined small business at a certain date and time and spend money, giving the business an economic jolt.  Mobbers typically spend $10-20 dollars.

This month’s “mob target” is The Art Stop, at 10 North Avenue in the village.  The Art Stop, open since 2003, sells fine art supplies, creative items for children, and gift items.  They also have a custom frame shop and a gallery featuring work by local artists, and offer art lessons in their second-floor studio.

The Cash Mob will descend on the Art Stop on Saturday Oct 20 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Afterwards, mobbers will meet at Barry’s Old School Irish for a pint and a scone.

You can find out more about this cash mob and future Webster Cash Mob efforts by “liking” the group’s Facebook page, or contact Renee Short at 585-670-9385.


High schools show their spirit this week

9 Oct

I got to wear pajamas to school today.

You see, it’s Homecoming Week at the Webster high schools, which means that every day this week there’s a different dress-up theme for students.  At Thomas High School, faculty members are encouraged to participate as well.  So Tuesday — Pajama Day — we all got to wear our fuzzy pajama pants, or something equally comfortable, like sweats.  Wednesday, we can dress up like superheroes or space aliens, and Thursday is “music genre” day. I’m thinking of pulling some polyester disco pants out of the box in the attic.

It all culminates on Friday with color day, when each class dresses in a different color.  When the entire student body gathers in the gym at the end of the school day for the pep rally, the effect is dramatic. The bleachers are transformed into a rainbow, enveloping the gymnasium floor. And the noise is deafening.

I know that Spirit Week at Schroeder is much the same, down to the deafening pep rally on Friday.  I think this is only the second year in which both schools have held their Homecoming celebrations in the same week, a decision which I think was long overdue.  Even though we have two high schools, we are still one community, and should make an effort to hold joint events a whole lot more often than we do.

Which is why I am really excited to see that the Homecoming Parade is back for a second year on Saturday morning.  Students will be making floats and walking with their classes, or teams, or clubs. The parade begins at Spry Middle School at 10 am and will proceed through the village.

There’s actually a whole line-up of Homecoming sporting events taking place this week, including the Schroeder Varsity football game on Friday and Thomas Varsity game on Saturday night.  Click here for the entire schedule of this week’s events.

** P.S.  Like last year, I will not be able to attend this weekend’s Homecoming Parade. So like last year, I’m asking my readers to submit photos for me to post in my blog.  If you’re interested, choose a half dozen or so of your favorites and email them to me at Thanks! **


Making a village scarecrow? Here are some more details

8 Oct

I got an email from Webster Village Mayor Peter Elder today, which provided some more details about the Scarecrow Contest which the village has opened up to the community this year. (See my previous blog.)

Mayor Elder wrote,

The Village is pleased to be organizing the Scarecrow Contest this year. Village businesses are encouraged to make one, but this year community groups are welcome to create scarecrows as well. Scarecrows should be created as soon as possible, but no later than the 19th. The sooner they are up, the more votes they can collect. When they are created, I will need to be contact to give guidance of where they will be placed (they can also be dropped off at Village Hall).

Awards will be given first through third prizes.

Sky’s the limit on creativity (no gross, profane or lewd scarecrows), but each one must have a clear, legible label of which organization is sponsoring it so that people can vote. Ballot boxes are located at Mark’s Pizzeria, Hatters, Village Hall, the Webster Museum.  Anyone with questions can just call me at 662-9906.

Once the scarecrows are placed around the village, community members will be encouraged to vote for their favorite. The winners will be announced during the Halloween in the Village event on Saturday October 27.

Get your group together and scare a village

8 Oct

One of last year’s scarecrow entries.

The Village of Webster will host its second Scarecrow Contest this fall, to coincide with the annual Halloween in the Village events scheduled for Saturday October 27.   Last year the contest was only open to businesses, but this year community groups are also invited to participate.

So that means Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops, church groups and service organizations can create their own scarecrows.  The details are a bit sketchy right now, but for sure your creation shouldn’t be gory or profane, and ideally it should tie to the theme of your organization. There’s no cost, and prizes will be awarded for the top three entries. Right now the best way to get more details is to email Mayor Elder at

Then make sure to be in town on Saturday the 27th for the annual Halloween in the Village celebration when the winner of the Scarecrow Contest will be announced.  Click here to get a whole rundown of the day’s events.

Too many school supplies to count!!!

3 Oct

This was the scene outside Mitch Nellis’ Eastridge High School room during the sorting phase of the collection drive.

I got an email a few days ago from Mitchell Nellis. He’s the brains behind Greenseed Educational Supplies, the organization that coordinates the effort at the end of every school year to recycle gently used school supplies.  I know that many of my readers are really interested when I post blogs about Webster Thomas’ annual participation in this effort.  So I thought I’d post a follow-up and let you know how things went this year.

In a word, spectacular.

As a matter of fact, Mitch received so many supplies at the end of the school year that he didn’t even try to count them all.  (That was pretty good news, but disappointing to those of us who love to spout statistics.)  But he did report that the supplies were distributed to 19 local organizations — including city schools and community service agencies — and schools in Africa and South America.  Here’s a list of the local places the supplies landed:

* RCSD #29
* RCSD #30
* RCSD #58
* RCSD #44
* Urban Choice Charter School
* Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s literacy program
* Strong Behavioral Health
* Christian Grove St. Church
* Purple Crayon Day Care
* Saving Wild Horses Through Grace Ministries
* Pack 925 Cub Scout Troop
* Young Audiences of Rochester/ArtPeace — Arts for Learning
* Homeschool Programs in Middleport
* Unity Chemical Dependency Inpatient Unit
* CHESS homeschooling co op
* United Christian Community Program
* Compeer Rochester, Inc.
* Community Support Shoppe, Inc.
* Journeys of Solutions, Inc.

Webster was once again blew Mitch away with the amount of donated items we collected from Spry and Willink Middle Schools, Plank North Elementary and Thomas High School.  Hopefully even more Webster schools will participate next year and even more worthy agencies and schools will benefit.

If you’re connected with the PTSA at a school which would like to get involved, drop me a line and I’ll let you know how to do so.  And if you know of any community group which could use supplies next June, contact Mitch at mitchellnellis@