Archive | March, 2013

Let the litter games begin!

31 Mar

My regular readers might remember a blog I posted around this time last year about a certain driveway seal-coating company and its marketing literature.  Specifically, it was about how their marketing literature was strewn all over our neighborhood. In one two-day period last April, my husband Jack and I picked up almost 30 of the fliers along our regular two-mile walking route through the neighborhood. They had fluttered out of the newspaper boxes where they had been carelessly stuffed, extracted by the strong spring winds.

Since then, I have always considered this particular company to be King of the Litterers. I thought their neighborhood trashing  record would stand forever.

But on Friday, it was in real danger.

On Friday afternoon, Jack and I were on that very same two-mile walk when we noticed a glossy white flier at the side of the road. We thought at first our seal-coating friends had gotten an early start on their littering in defense of their title. But we were surprised to see it was an entirely new contender in the litter derby — a lawn care company.  A little farther down the road we found a second. Then a third. We began to think that maybe, just maybe, this company was going to mount a serious challenge for the title.

All of a sudden we became much more vigilant as we walked, carefully inspecting lawns and bushes.  At one point we split up along two conjoined side streets to cover more ground. Sure enough, by the time we met back up at the far end, we had both collected a handful of glossy white flyers.  But we also had collected a handful of glossy green fliers.

Yes, ANOTHER lawn care company had joined the contest.

Game on.

Things got serious. We started keeping score. White Lawn Care Company (WLCC) had the early lead by virtue of all the fliers from the early part of the walk. But Green Lawn Care Company (GLCC) quickly made up the deficit.  Before long the score was neck-and-neck.  There were several lead changes.  By the time we got home we had lost count, and we were honestly excited to see if WLCC had been able to pull it out in the end.

But it wasn’t to be.  The final tally was 18 WLCC fliers, 19 GLCC fliers.

So our heartiest congratulations to Green Lawn Care Company. Their total was far short of  Driveway Seal-Coating Company’s record-setting 29 fliers, but they CAN claim the title of “Most Prolific Neighborhood Litterer of the Spring” so far. Enjoy that winning feeling, GLCC, for it will be fleeting. Driveway Seal-Coating Company — King of the Litterers — should be rejoining the game in a week or two.

Stay tuned.

I really should know better by now

29 Mar

WHY do I keep doing this to myself?

Why do I wait until two days before Easter to go out and get what I need to celebrate the holiday?  Yesterday morning my husband and I went to Wegmans to stock up on stuff we needed for Easter dinner.  Jack would have preferred to go Thursday night, and said so then.  “It’s going to be a zoo” if we waited until Good Friday, he said. “Pfshaw,” I responded. “There’s no way it could be worse than when I go on Sunday afternoon.”

So, I was wrong. Fortunately, for much of the shopping trip we were able to split up, creating two smaller targets, therefore making it easier to get through the aisles without being rear-ended.  But even then it was a physical and emotional challenge to get through the entire store. Finally I came to a point where I just gave up. We had everything we needed for dinner; I could return on Monday for everything else. With any luck, by then Wegmans will have installed traffic lights and one-way aisles.

Having arrived home safely from Wegmans, I still had to go out to the Dollar Store and K-Mart to get goodies for my kids’ Easter baskets.  (Yes, I know my youngest child just turned 19. And only one of the three still lives at home. But don’t judge me. My kids still like to get Easter baskets and I’m pretty sure they all still believe in the Easter Bunny.)  The crowds weren’t so bad, but the selection was a bit picked over. I hope the kids don’t mind getting jars of gherkins in their baskets this year.

OK, so I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll get an early start on Christmas this year, I promise. Good thing the Christmas decorations will be hitting the stores next week.

Sharing the gift of music

27 Mar

At the Schroeder concert, the percussion section has fun with plungers.

Two events this week at the Webster high schools helped spread the gift of music.

All of Webster School District’s fifth graders were recently treated to a sample of the kind of music they can create when they progress through the elementary instrumental music program into high school.

Last week, Webster Schroeder High School welcomed students from Plank Road North, Plank Road South and State Road elementary schools to watch a concert performed by the high school wind ensemble. The same event occurred at Webster Thomas yesterday, where the Thomas Wind Ensemble hosted students from Klem Road North, Klem Road South, DeWitt Road and Schlegel Road elementary schools.

At Schroeder, conductor Amanda Tierson fields questions from the fifth graders.

The musical experience was made even more meaningful by lessons the elementary students were presented before the concerts.  The elementary music teachers prepared their students by introducing the pieces that would be performed, encouraging discussion of instrumentation, musical themes, concert etiquette and characteristics of the music they would hear.

For many of the kids, it was their first experience hearing a “real live” concert. And for any of them just starting to learn an instrument, it was a great display of what they could accomplish with continued dedication and hard work.

Fifth graders fill the auditorium at Thomas.

Conductor Eric Piazza leads the Thomas Wind Ensemble.

A saxophone quartet highlighted the Thomas concert. From left, Terese Ciaizza, Karthik Sekharan, Nick Bartusek and Juliana Baratta.

Webster Thomas grade Evan Sundquist was a featured performer when the Fredonia Jazz Ensemble made a stop at Thomas High School on Tuesday, as part of their spring break educational tour through Upstate New York.  Sundquist was spotlighted on the trumpet and vocally during the hour-long performance. The purpose of the group’s tour is to illustrate to current high school students that there are opportunities to participate in music after high school, whether or not they choose to major in music.

Thomas grad Evan Sundquist (back, at left) played trumpet and sang during the concert at his alma mater.

The Fredonia Jazz Ensemble on stage.

Mini mailbag

25 Mar

Before this pre-holiday week overtakes us completely, I wanted to make note of a few notices that have come through my email box.

The first is from the folks at the Town of Webster, who’d like everyone to know that Town Hall will be closed this Friday March 29 in observance of Good Friday. They’ll reopen Monday April 1st (April Fool’s Day — no comments, please) at 8:30 am for regular business.

On Saturday March 30, the community is invited to attend an Easter Bunny Pancake Breakfast at the Webster Columbus Center, 70 Barrett Drive.  The event is being held as a fund-raiser to help Katy Corpus earn her trip as a Student Ambassador with People to People this summer.

In addition to breakfast, the event will feature

  • An Easter egg hunt for children 12 and younger (for children who attend the breakfast only)
  • An adapted egg hunt for children with special needs
  • Pictures with the Easter Bunny
  • Face painting
  • A raffle for an Easter basket filled with goodies

The breakfast will run from 8:30 – 11 am. Pre-sale tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children, and are available at Computer Works Pro (1991 Empire Blvd., Webster) or online at Tickets will also be available at the door for $10/$7.

Vegan and gluten-free options will also be available.



How does one picture spring?

24 Mar

Oh boy, I’m in trouble now.

A friend of mine invited me to a Facebook “event” yesterday, which she calls “Spring Spotting.”  She described it thusly:

Every day for the next 15 post a picture of signs of spring, things that remind you of spring, etc. Let’s see if we can encourage Mother Nature to bring it on faster! We start Monday, March 25 and end Monday, April 8.

So I’m always up for a challenge, and I “joined.”  But now I kinda wish I hadn’t.  I mean, it’s a great idea, but I go to work every morning at 7 am and when I get home I pretty much hunker down for the evening.  I’m not exactly sure what kinds of spring-y things I’m going to see during my wildly over-scheduled day.

Maybe a sunrise. But everyone will do that. The perennials poking up through the garden? Everyone will do that. Deer tracks in the snow? Naw.

Wait. I got it.  Nothing says “Rochester spring” better than black slush piles. Potholes. Litter peeking out of the melting snowbanks like budding flowers.

OK, I got the first three days in the bag. Now don’t tell anyone else my ideas, OK?


Now I’ll need even MORE story ideas!

23 Mar

It continues to amaze me how capricious blog ideas can be. There are times that I have so many story ideas in the pipeline that I have to draw up a schedule for them so I don’t forget any — and then another one or two come in that need immediate attention and throw my whole schedule off.

Then there’s times like now, when I got nuthin’.  That’s when I go trolling around the Internet to see if an idea jumps out at me. It didn’t take too long this time around.

My first trolling stop was the Webster section of the Democrat & Chronicle website, where I came across Stacy Gittleman’s final column. Stacy is just finishing up a three-year stint as the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the D&C.  She’s preparing to move with her family to Detroit, and as a result has to give up the column, and pass it on to the next lucky writer.

If you haven’t heard yet, that’s me.

Beginning this coming Friday, I’ll be writing the Our Towns east-side column, which will appear every Friday. But fear not; I’ll still be your Webster blogger, too. (I’m having too much fun with this to stop now.)

Stacy gave me a nice little intro in her final column, which I really appreciate (read the column here). But I particularly liked the part where she thanks the D&C for

…helping me find my voice in reporting on all the local heroes in our midst. It gave me such a sense of connection and belonging in Rochester to know that this column helped raise funds and awareness for so many of the causes that you support.

That pretty much sums up what I’ve always tried to do with my blog and what I’ll continue to try to do with the column.

In honor of my Webster roots, my first column will highlight Zech Vanzo, a Webster Thomas High School junior who’s making a name for himself in the music business.  You can get a preview of Zech’s story on my East Extra Facebook Page. I’m hoping to use the Facebook page to post bonus material including longer versions of the column, accompanying photos and calendar items that I couldn’t get into the column. There’s not much on there yet, but please consider popping over there and checking it out. (You could be my second “Like”!)

See you in the papers!


Webster educators pull in some big awards

21 Mar

Two Webster School District teachers were recently honored with some pretty impressive awards.

Plank North physical education teacher Kevin Sayers

The first is Plank Road North Elementary School physical education teacher Kevin Sayers, who was recently honored as the 2013 Central Western Zone Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

Sayers was nominated by colleague Jennifer Forsey, who felt that he exemplifies a true professional in the field of PE at the elementary school level. “His way of teaching pulls in all of his students and they hang on his every word,” she said. “Kevin has a ton of ideas in which to incorporate skills into lessons in fun and exciting ways. He is also a great mentor to newer elementary PE teachers in our district.”

Sayers has been a physical education teacher in the Webster school district for 11 years, serving all but one at Plank North.  He is a member of the school crisis team, the building advisory committee and the school health and safety team.  He is also involved in the school’s Family Fun Night and New Family Orientation Night. For the district, Sayers coordinates the annual fourth grade Fun Run, is a new teacher mentor and has been involved in curriculum writing over the years.

Sayers received his award at a conference earlier this month.

* * *

Next, let’s pop on over to Webster Schroeder High School, where music teacher Amanda Tierson has received the Yale Distinguished Educator Award, which recognizes honorees for their “outstanding achievements and vision as public school teachers.”

Webster Schroeder High School music teacher Amanda Tierson

Tierson was one of 50 educators chosen for this year’s award, out of a pool of nearly 300 nominations representing 45 states. She will receive the award at the 2013 Symposium of Music in Schools at Yale University in early June. In addition to the awards dinner, while at the symposium Tierson will discuss education reform with music educators from across the country, learn from recognized leaders in her field and have the opportunity to enjoy a concert in Sprague Memorial Hall.

Tierson has been teaching for 29 years at both the elementary and senior high levels.  She is the Music Lead Teacher at Webster Schroeder High School where she currently teaches Wind Ensemble and 9th Grade Band.  She also enjoys teaching Music Education Practicum, a course she created for high school students who wish to become future music educators, and mentoring student teachers.

Congratulations to both of these fine teachers. It just goes to show you that those “specials” teachers are actually extra-special.

Thursday Webster Mailbag

20 Mar

It’s a sure sign of spring: special events are beginning to pop up all over the place.

For starters, Webster Thomas High School’s Production of The Wiz eases onto the stage for four shows beginning this evening at 7:30 pm.  The Wiz is a hip, 1975 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the even more famous movie.

Yesterday several of the cast members treated Thomas staff and students to a teaser, featuring some of the songs from the show. So I can tell you that this is going to be a very entertaining, high-energy production. Anyone who lived through the ‘70s will enjoy the cultural references to that … far out … era. The kids will enjoy the vibrant costumes and upbeat melodies.  It’s about as different from the Wizard of Oz as it can be, while still sticking to the famous storyline. The Cowardly Lion, for example, looks and acts a lot like Elvis.

Tickets are $10 and are still available for all shows, but it might be too late to get them at Hegedorn’s, so pick them up when you get to the show.

The Wiz will be presented tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30, and Saturday at 2 pm, at Webster Thomas High School, 800 Five Mile Line Road, Webster.


Friday night, you’re invited to attend a reception for a multi-school photography show called Through the Student Lens 2013,at the Image City Photo Gallery.  This annual event showcases stunning photography by high school students from all around the county. The idea is to give students a chance to display their photographs professionally, in a gallery setting. This year’s collection includes 170 images by students from 17 area high schools, including Thomas and Schroeder.

Through the Student Lens opened on Wednesday and runs through April 14.  You can meet the artists at a reception Friday night March 22 from 5-8:30 pm.  The Image City Photo Gallery is located at 722 University Avenue, in Rochester.


Believe or not, this weekend marks the 25th anniversary of Scouting for Food. I know this because I got one of those hangy-tag things on my doorknob earlier this week. If you did, too, and immediately tossed it into the recycle bin, go fish it out, because this is a very worthwhile effort.

Here’s the way it works: On Saturday morning, gather up some non-perishable foods, put them in a bag, and then plop the bag outside your front door by 9 am. That’s all there is to it.  The Scouts will be around to pick it up, sort it and deliver all the donations to local food pantries.

AND, these days Scouting for Food also includes a clothing drive. So get another bag, fill it with gently used clothes and shoes in it (no household items, please), and plop the bag outside your front door right next to the food bag. These items will be donated to Goodwill.

If the Scouts don’t make it by your house to pick up the donations, you can drop them off yourself at any Wendy’s Restaurant or any Goodwill store between March 23 and March 30.


Schlegel Road’s Second Annual Beautification Fair is Saturday, March 23.  All sorts of crafters will be on hand to display a tremendous variety of gift items. Funds raised through the craft sale and raffles will go towards beautifying the school’s cafeteria. The second phase of the project began earlier this month, when Schlegel art teacher Colleen Palmer and all of her students started painting murals during their art classes. You’ll can check out their work this weekend while you’re at the fair.

The show takes place from 10 am to 4 pm at the school, 1548 Schlegel Road in Webster.


Your next local opportunity to donate blood is Tuesday March 26 at the Webster Schroeder High school Aquatics Center, 875 Ridge Road. Donations will be taken from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. It might be best to make an appointment for this one, since a lot of Schroeder students will probably be participating as well. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS.


Did you know that dogs’ nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints? That there’s such a thing as glow-in-the-dark soda? And what the heck is “morphing matter”?  Find out more about all of these questions and more at Webster Christian School’s Science and Health Fair, Tuesday evening, from 7-8:30 pm.

I went to this event last year and was amazed at some of the projects these young people were able to pull off. I may have to go again this year just to see what “dry ice bombs” are.

Webster Christian School is located at 675 Holt Road.


A free Renew Webster Home Energy “Lunch and Learn” Workshop is scheduled Wednesday, March 27, 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at the Webster Recreation Center to help residents learn about and understand programs available to help them reduce energy use and annual energy costs by an average of $700.

At the meeting, homeowners will be able to sign up for their free or reduced-cost energy assessment, as well as learn about other energy efficiency program opportunities available from Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E).

The Town of Webster will provide each family (up to 100) with a 10-pack of compact fluorescent light bulbs, which can save $84 per year or more by replacing incandescent light bulbs.

The lunch and program are free of charge, but space is limited. Pre-registration is encouraged to reserve your light bulbs and lunch at or toll free at 1-866-495-2959.

High schools present check to WWFD

19 Mar

I had the opportunity to attend a very special occasion Tuesday evening.

It was the presentation of a rather large donation check to the West Webster Fire Department by representatives of Webster Thomas and Webster Schroeder high schools.

The $11,000 check included donations collected before, during and after the Thomas vs. Schroeder Staff Benefit Basketball Game held on February 9. More than $9,000 of those funds were donated in response to a challenge put forth by three very brave souls — Webster Thomas Assistant Principal Sue Clark, Thomas Librarian Trish Warren, and Schroeder Assistant Principal Jeremy McBride — who pledged to have their heads shaved if they could raise $5,000 for the Chiapperini and Kaczowka families.

That goal was reached five days before the game was even played. And people kept on giving.  Plus, the game itself raised a lot more through ticket sales, t-shirt sales and bracelet sales.

Students and staff members from both high schools were on hand to present the check to WWFD Vice President Bryan Bayer.

Webster Thomas Student Council President Dan Iulianello presents the check to WWFD Vice President Bryan Bayer.

Students and staff members from Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools prepare to present the $11,000 donation check.

Bald-follow up: Jeremy McBride, Trish Warren and Sue Clark sporting their new shorter (but rapidly growing) ‘dos.


Willink student wins Do the Right Thing award

12 Mar

Ryan Tubiolo is interviewed by News 10 Chief Photographer Todd Hayes.

This news is a little dated, but it’s such a great story that I wanted to share it anyway.

Willink Middle School seventh grader student Ryan Tubiolo has received a Do the Right Thing Award from WHEC Channel 10.

The Do The Right Thing program publicly recognizes Rochester-area young people who distinguish themselves by their good behavior, establishing them as role models for their peers. Ryan received the award in December, and gave an on-camera interview in February to a WHEC reporter/videographer.

Willink math teacher Maria Rigillo nominated Ryan for the honor because of his courage and passion to help others, exemplified in the way he deals every day with Muscular Dystrophy.  She wrote,

Ryan is a positive and exemplary role model of responsibility, diligence, respect, hard work and motivation.…He sets the standard for excellence in life and he has a very strong sense of courage…exemplified in the way he has handled, and continues to endure, a life-threatening medical condition that he has dealt with for many years. Ryan has not allowed this challenge to stop him from being the best he can be, and he never uses his medical condition as an excuse.

Ryan is actively involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, both as a successful fundraiser and as a spokesman. He also taped and aired an interview on Willink Titan TV that informs the Willink school community about Muscular Dystrophy and educates the community about the many children afflicted with various illnesses who are no different from children who are not facing such challenges.

Ryan enjoys being active in his school, and told the reporter that’s because “the teachers are so nice and it’s cool to be able to participate with other kids and do what they do. They know why I’m in a wheelchair and why I can’t do some of the things they do. The kids at Willink support me.”

And the teachers, too, apparently.

“Ryan has certainly made a huge difference in my life,” Rigillo wrote, “as I am sure he has in the lives of all those who have the honor and privilege of knowing him.”