Archive | February, 2013

What are you doing for February break?

15 Feb

When you work at a school, on the last day before an extended vacation it’s pretty much guaranteed that someone will ask you at least once, “So, are you doing anything over break?”  I actually got it twice yesterday.  And twice, I gave my standard answer: “I’m sleeping in.”

The response was calculated at least in part for comedic effect, but there’s also a lot of truth behind it.  One of the things I look forward to most when a February break or spring break rolls around is the luxury of turning off the alarm and sleeping as late as I want.  Sure, I take advantage of the week off to schedule appointments and meetings, but I make sure they’re late enough in the day so as not to disturb my sleeping in.

Not that we would be going anywhere this week anyway.  My husband the St. John Fisher prof doesn’t get his spring break for two more weeks.  And we really couldn’t swing the cost of a cruise right now, either.  More power to everyone else who’s heading to some beach, though. I understand that for some people, “getting away from it all” means taking a big plane or boat and — literally — getting far away.

Not me.  Just not being at work for a week is far enough away for me.  I don’t have to follow a schedule of any kind, I can stay in my pajamas until after lunch, eat junk food in front of the TV, crank my favorite tunes, work out when I feel like it and be a lazy bum when I don’t, write, read, sing, play, party…and then do it all again the next day.

Granted, my laissez-faire approach to February break wouldn’t fly if I still had kids home during the day.  Small children tend to have a complete disregard for the word “vacation” and persist with annoying habits like getting up early and asking for things like attention and breakfast.

I understand your pain. Been there, done that.  And I really understand your need to “get away from it all” by taking said young children to far away lands where costumed characters dwell.

Have fun. I’ll be thinking of you while I sit in front of Ellen in my robe and fuzzy slippers, eating bon-bons.



13 Feb

Webster’s own Working Class Theatre Company (WCTC) will be holding auditions for its upcoming summer 2013 production of The Fantasticks, to be performed July 31-August 4 at the gazebo in Veterans Memorial Park on North Avenue in Webster.

The Fantasticks is an American theater classic. Originally performed off-Broadway in 1960, the production ran a total of 42 years and 17,162 performances, making it the world’s longest-running musical.  As described on the WCTC website,

When two teens from opposing families get swept up in all the romantic notions of love and adventure, a merry cast of roving bandits sets out to teach them and the audience that there is more to love than just flowers and pretty metaphors!  Performed on a minimalist but charming set, using a variety of performing styles (including clowning, circus arts, mime, and acrobatics) and filled with catchy, memorable songs that have become American standards (“Try To Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” among them), The Fantasticks is a fun-filled, entertaining, and magical evening of theater for the whole family. 

Actors are needed for the roles of El Gallo, the narrator; Matt, the boy in love; Luisa, the girl in love; Hucklebee and Bellamy, the fathers; Henry and Mortimer, the old actors/clowns; and the mute.  Auditions will be held Sunday March 24 and Monday March 25. For details on what to prepare for the auditions, and to make an appointment, visit the Working Class Theatre Company website at

This will be the WCTC’s first musical, and their third production at the gazebo.  Not only are these performances very well done and very entertaining, they are presented absolutely free.  We are incredibly fortunate that the Working Class Theatre Company calls Webster its home.


“Open Party” candidates will challenge village incumbents

12 Feb

It looks like next month’s Webster Village elections are going to be competitive after all.

With the slogan “Fresh Water, Fresh Ideas, Fresh Start,” candidates John Cahill, Darrell Byerts and Gerard Ippolito Jr. announced on Monday that they are running in the March 19 Webster Village election on the independent “Open Party” line.  Cahill will be challenging incumbent Mayor Peter Elder, and Byerts and Ippolito will try to unseat Village Trustees Christine Reynolds and Dave Kildal.


The candidates are making no secret that one of their primary motivations for running is to address the long-simmering village water issue. “We can’t count the many positive responses we’ve received regarding our pledge to bring soft water to the village,” said Cahill. But the larger issue, he added, is “restoring openness and transparency to village government.”

And so it begins.


John Cahill, the candidate for mayor, lives at 220 Judson St. with his wife Christine and three children. He has been a village resident for nearly three years and for 16 years has owned Technoserv Property Management. He graduated from RIT with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and earned an Associate Degree at Alfred Tech in Mechanical Design and Drafting. He is a member of the Webster Bible Church.

Darrell Byerts, who is running for trustee, is familiar to Webster swimming enthusiasts. He was a swim coach in the Webster schools from 1973 to 2009 and is a member of the Section V Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame Committee. He is a retired Webster high school science teacher and has lived in the village for 35 years. He resides at 36 Elm St. with his wife Anne and three children.


Gerard Ippolito Jr. lives at 47 Baker St. with his wife Lisa and two children and has lived in the village for 13 years. He is an R.L.Thomas graduate and was on the varsity volleyball team. Currently he is Director of Environmental Services, Grounds, and Properties for Hillside Shared Services. He is active in volunteering and has participated in Hillside Special Santas and a recent WWFD fund raiser.

More local people helping others

12 Feb

I received some photos yesterday from a couple of other fundraisers last weekend which involved local people and local places.

Flaherty’s Three Flags Inn on Bay Road held an all-day fundraiser on Sunday, in which they donated a portion of everyone’s check to the West Webster Fire Department. Judging by the number of people who packed the place all afternoon and evening, they raised a ton of money. Organizers also had a 50-50 raffle going, there were dozens of raffle prizes, and entertainment by local musicians (who played for free). I had very nice late lunch with a dozen of my closest friends. It was just a terrific event all around.

Thanks to my friend Kristen North for these two photos, including the panoramic one of the bar, above.

Music by “My Dingo” inspired at least a few of the patrons to take to the dance floor.

You might also have heard about the 13th annual Polar Plunge on Sunday, when crazy people (many in costume) took a swim in frigid Lake Ontario to benefit the New York Special Olympics.  Among the brave souls to take the plunge were Webster Schroeder 11th grader Phillip LiPari, Spry Middle School seventh grader Sadie LiPari, and Klem Road South Elementary School teachers Doreen LiPari and Jennifer Forsey, all pictured below.  Between the four of them they raised more than $500 for the cause.


Schroeder vs. Thomas benefit game a success in many ways

11 Feb

Saturday night’s benefit basketball game which featured Webster Schroeder against Webster Thomas staff members, was a huge success. The stands were packed, the mood was electric, the game was competitive … well, at least for one team… and everyone had a good time. More to the point, the game raised tons of money for the West Webster Fire Department, through ticket sales, t-shirt sales and bracelet sales.

Some of the fans took the game VERY seriously.

More than $9,000 of that money raised came directly from the efforts of three very brave Webster educators, who had pledged to get their heads shaved at halftime if they were able to raise at least $5,000 before the game. They reached — and surpassed — that goal almost a week ahead of time, and so the assembled crowd was able to watch as Webster Thomas Assistant Principal Sue Clark, Librarian Trish Warren, and Webster Schroeder Assistant Principal Jeremy McBride went under the razor at half court between periods.The money they raised will be going directly to the families of Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka.

Each of the three spoke before the shearing about their motivations for going through with this selfless act. They were all very moving, but I particularly liked one of the things that Warren said, and I (pretend) to quote directly:

People keep telling me that I’m really brave for what I’m doing today. But I’m not the brave one. The brave ones are the firefighters and first responders who put their lives on the line every day, who leave their homes, not knowing if they’re going to return at the end of the day.

Ain’t that the truth.

The stands were packed.

Here are a few photos from the event, but I invite you to click here to see a gallery of about 170 (of the 300 or more I took that night).

There’s one photo I took which I will not post, but I thought really summed up what this game was all about. One of the Webster Thomas players was having some difficulty in the first half and required EMT assistance. Naturally, when the announcer asked

for an EMT to come down, about a dozen first responders in attendance immediately stood up. The one who ultimately took the lead to care for the player was Nick Chiapperini, Mike Chiapperini’s son.

When I pointed this out to Thomas AP Sue Clark, she said matter-of-factly, “That’s who he is. That’s why I’m shaving my head.”


A sample of the craziness that ensued.

The newly-shorn pose with their talented hairdressers. (L-R) Thomas teacher Ida Marra, Trish Warren, Jeremy McBride, Thomas parent Nikki Ditch, Sue Clark, and Kiara Sens Giaconia (Thomas ’09)


A few more photos for your viewing pleasure, which I was able to take this morning after I got to work at Thomas. The first is a shot from our Morning Show studios where Sue Clark and Trish Warren went on the air to thank the student body for their support.  The second is of Warren sporting the winning hat from her “Choose-Which-Hat-I’m-Going-to-Wear-on-Monday” contest.  It was a close contest between this one and the dreadlocks. I think she’s very glad this one won.

Thomas High newspaper honors fallen firefighters

9 Feb

by Stephanie Boris, Webster Thomas High School

If it seems like I write a lot about Webster Thomas High School…well, you’d be right.  But I do work there, and so many good things happen in that school that stories ideas just fall into my lap.  Plus, teenagers get so much bad press these days, I like to try to balance that out with news of the great things they can do, and are doing for their school and community.

Today’s blog is no different.  It’s about a bunch of Thomas kids who have gone above and beyond to create a lasting memorial to the fallen firefighters of the West Webster Fire Department. It’s something that I thought definitely had to be shared far beyond the high school’s walls.

The Webster Thomas High School newspaper is called The Courier, and lately it’s been published exclusively online by a small but very dedicated group of students advised by English teacher Mary Heveron-Smith. A week or so ago, though, the staff published a special eight-page print edition commemorating fallen firefighters — and Thomas High School family members — Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka.

I asked Heveron-Smith about the decision to publish this special edition in print instead of online. She explained,

It had to be print.  We’ve been working this year to develop our website, but we knew this had to be a printed issue of the newspaper.  There is something about print that still brings comfort. We wanted a publication that people could feel with their hands, could tuck away into a drawer and pull out again when they wanted to remember the amazing individuals whom we lost.

The resulting publication features submissions by current and former Thomas students and other community members. There’s a eulogy written as a Public Speaking assignment, a poem, and excerpts from the eulogy delivered at Mike Chiapperini’s funeral.  But the images are what really blew me away.  The photos and original artwork, many of which are printed in full color, almost brought me to tears. The one of Tomasz which illustrates the top of this blog was especially poignant.  Heveron-Smith wrote of this piece,

 …he is captured so perfectly — his eyes, his smile, his facial lines…If you knew Tomasz, you almost can’t help but smile in recognition when you see it.  The background is a blend of photos, headlines, and newspaper clippings — all seeming to remind us what happened that day, how many people were affected, how many stood out for their acts of heroism.

I’m going to stop blathering here, and just let you see the publication yourself.  Click here to download a .pdf  of the issue to read on your computer.

Click here to read Mary Heveron-Smith’s entire email, which explains in more detail how and why this issue came to be. (If you’re not on Facebook, you can click here for a .pdf version.)

You can pick up a paper copy of the special commemorative edition of The Courier at the Webster Public Library and at Hegedorn’s.



I’m kind of rambling this morning….

9 Feb

Normally, I like to try to write a blog every evening and schedule it to post first thing the following morning for people to read with their coffee. (You may have noticed the time stamps are usually 5:59, 6:00, something like that. No way am I actually conscious enough at that time of day to write.)

Last night , though, I hunkered down in front of the fire instead of writing, so I’m late today, and all I got for you are some brief — but important — announcements.

This from the school district:

Full Day Kindergarten Registration for the 2013-14 school year at Webster Central School District will take place February 12-14, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. or Wednesday, February 13 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at your child’s elementary school.  No appointment is necessary.

Your child is eligible for kindergarten if they will be 5 years old on or before December 1, 2013.  

Parents should bring a completed Registration Packet with them to registration.  Packets and additional information are available on the district web site at by calling 216-0079.

Please note that the Kindergarten Orientation originally scheduled on Webster’s PTSA Calendar for Monday, March 18, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 28, at each elementary school. This will be an orientation program, not a registration event!

And this notice about a great event just for first responders and their families came in several days ago:

Fun Fest for First Responders’ Families

Attention Webster first responders! In gratitude for all you do, Spry Middle School is planning a Winter Fun Fest just for you and your families! The community’s firefighters, police and ambulance workers and their families are invited to come to Spry, 119 South Avenue, on Wednesday, February 20, 1 – 3 p.m., for a free afternoon of fun activities and friendship supported by Spry staff and students. There will be crafts, face painting, snacks, open gym, and a bouncy house!

Reservations would be appreciated; call Flora Senecal at 216-0093 by February 14.

Now, on a more personal note, I am happy to announce that I have been asked to take over as the East Extra community columnist for Our Towns. My column will appear every Friday in the eastside Our Towns beginning around the first or second week of April.  Current columnist Stacy Gittleman will be moving and has to give up the column. She has done a wonderful job, and I hope to be able to continue to provide the level of excellence you have come to expect from her.

The good news is, I will still be Webster’s community blogger. I’m having too much fun with this to just give it up. Bad news is, now I’m going to need even more story ideas.

So, faithful readers, spread the word. If you work in any of the eastside towns or have family or friends there, keep an eye out for stories about interesting people and places.  My new email for the column is

Finally, make sure you tune in tomorrow for a blog about a very moving tribute to Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka prepared by students at Webster Thomas High School.  It just might make you cry.


THIS is Webster

9 Feb

I didn’t think fast enough to get a photo of this, so you’re just going to have to believe me.

As I drove home from school today, the traffic was crawling down Five Mile Line Road, heading south towards Ridge Road. I surmised that cars were having trouble navigating the small hill just as Five Mile meets Ridge. Sure enough, as I neared the intersection, I saw exactly what I expected: cars sliding to and fro as their back tires tried to get a grip.

But I also saw something very unexpected. As the car in front of me struggled to get up the slight incline, a young man, wearing a light winter jacket and no gloves, walked behind the car and started to push it.  And he kept on pushing, for a good 30 seconds, until it was clear the car could continue on its own.

Then the man stepped to the side of Five Mile Line and waited for the the next car that needed a push.

Talk about paying it forward.  THIS is what Webster people are like.


High school students are paying it forward — a lot

9 Feb

Who says kids only think of themselves these days?  The students at Webster Thomas High School have filled an entire wall near their cafeteria with slips of paper that say different.

Each pink slip — and there are about 200 of them — has a simple phrase written on it, describing an act of kindness that student did for another.  They range from simple (“picked up a pencil for Joe”) to extensive and expensive (“donated $500 to the food cupboard”).  And more of them are being added to the wall every day.

The students are responding to the “Pay it Forward” initiative that was introduced at Thomas High School about a month ago by the school’s CARE Team. Students were shown Pay It Forward videos and were challenged to find their own ways to give back to their school and community. Filling out the pink slips is just one way they’re doing that.

Tomorrow, that challenge will be extended to the greater Webster community.  At Saturday night’s Webster Schroeder vs. Webster Thomas Staff Benefit Basketball Game, community members will be invited to take the Pay It Forward challenge themselves.  CARE Team member Catherine Smura explains,

 This is a great way to get the entire Webster community involved and provides an opportunity for everyone to make a pledge to pay it forward in their own way. The pink slips will be posted around the gym that night at the game and everyone will be able to see the great plans that others have created.

The slips say “My Plan To Pay It Forward Is…,” and more than 2000 of them have been copied and cut, ready for the game. That’s a lot of slips. That’s a lot of kindness.

Which brings me back to the pink wall. I paused there yesterday for several minutes and looked closely at the comments students had made.  They were all very nice, usually simple and specific gestures.  Closing a mailbox. Helping someone learn to dance. Helping with homework.

But my favorite was not very specific. It simply said, “I made someone feel good about themself.”  What a better world this would be if we could all aspire to that simple life goal.

Hope to see you at the game Saturday night. It begins at 7 pm at the Schroeder High School gymnasium.  This is the game where three Webster educators are going to have their heads shaved at halftime. You do NOT want to miss that. Tickets are $5 each and should be available at the door. Feel free to print off the Pay It Forward skip below, fill it out ahead of time and bring it with you. Get a head start on kindness.


This is why you were saving those Beanie Babies

9 Feb

I got an email yesterday from a friend who’s working with a wonderful group of young ladies from the Browncroft Community Church, and asked that I pass along some information about their community service project.

This enterprising group of fourth graders has partnered with Dress a Girl, an international organization based on North Winton Road which provides dresses and small toys to girls living in extreme poverty all around the world.  They began the project by bringing in their own toys, and then asked friends and neighbors. Some of the girls have also talked with their principals and have organized collections in several Webster schools.  Now they’re reaching out to the greater community.

The girls are looking for Beanie Babies, small stuffed animals and fast food meal toys to donate to Dress a Girl.  I’ll bet everyone has at least a few of these hanging around the house; I know I have a boxful tucked away from when my kids were little.  So when you’re doing your spring cleaning in the next few weeks, throw some in a box, and drop them off at Browncroft Community Church’s ministry office, 2530 Browncroft Blvd., Penfield.

The girls’ goal is to collect 1,000 toys.  Let’s help them get there.

Dress a Girl is a part of Angels of Mercy, 692 N. Winton Road.  Click here for more information about this wonderful organization.


Browncroft Community Church’s “Pioneer Girls” are shown presenting their first collection of 110 toys to a local Dress a Girl representative.