Archive | May, 2019

Plank South readers win book battle!

31 May

The winning team: (L-R) Michael Loux, Dominic Ianniello, Robert Kenny and Matt Schilling with Plank South librarian Janet Bresin.

Congratulations to the Bookasaurus Rex team from Plank South Elementary School, who won a head-to-head battle with Plank North’s Komedy Klan earlier this week in the final 2019 Battle of the Books battle.

Battle of the Books is a two-month long weekly contest which pits students in each of the school’s fifth grade classes against one another in a challenge which tests the students’ knowledge of literature. The students divide themselves up into three-or-four person teams and come up with fanciful team names like the “Mysterious Monkeys,” “The Skinny Carrots” and the “The Little Einsteins.” Then they try to become experts in the eight different books chosen for that year’s competition.

In each of the first three rounds, held during the classes’ normal library time, the teams are asked 16 questions — two from each book. The top scoring team from each class then moved on to the final round.

The Komedy Klan came in first pace at Plank North and Bookasaurus Rex at Plank South. The final battle on Wednesday was extremely close. The Komedy Klan missed just one question, but the Bookasaurus Rex team didn’t miss any. 

Plank North is just one of many schools in our district which hold this annual event. Kudos to the dedicated librarians who spend so much time organizing the battles and finding such a creative way to encourage our children to read and love books.


The Komedy Klan: Lucas Hill, Sam DuPont, Aidan Tosto and Michael Leonard with Plank North librarian Gretchen Pulver

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Luncheon concludes first collaborative community reading project

31 May

Webster community members and their student reading partners.  

I had the privilege to attend a very nice event on Thursday afternoon, the culminating luncheon of the first-ever community reading project.

Organized by Webster Schroeder English teacher Eileen Connolly, the project paired 25 adults from the greater Webster community with 25 students in Connolly’s 10th grade Here and Now English class. Every participant read the same novel — My Dog Skip by Willie Morris — over a period of four weeks in May. Reading assignments were assigned each week. Participants answered questions related to each assignment, recording their answers in a spiral notebook. The book and notebook were then delivered back and forth between adults and students every week so each could see what the other had written.

At yesterday’s luncheon, the adults and students met each other for the first time. My student partner was Kaylee Ziemniack, and I was pleased to be able to spend a few minutes getting to knew her at the luncheon.

Because it was just the first time for the program, there were a few glitches. But in general, it was a terrific experience and clearly adults and students alike got a lot out of it.

I asked Connolly to provide her thoughts on how things went and if she plans to run the program again next year. Allow me to quote her email directly:

Especially because it was our first time through, I was exceptionally pleased with how the program went. While we had a couple of bumps with delivery, every student and every adult read and responded to all parts of the novel. The opportunity to meet the people they’d been corresponding with was a little scary, but students enjoyed meeting and talking to their partners. Once we finished our luncheon, some of the participants also tried their hand at some blackout poetry using text from the novel.

The program gave students a low stress opportunity to do some reading and having adult feedback kept them interested. Students were always excited to open their envelopes and see what their partners had written. Many adults shared their own memories of childhood and provided some context for kids whose experiences are sometimes, but not always, very different from their own. Even the chance to see that people (other than teachers) actually write in cursive was an eye-opener for some students. Student readers had a chance to view how skilled and mature readers and writers interacted with the text. That provided excellent models for all of our students. …

We hope to expand the program to some English 10 classes at Thomas High School as well. I am thrilled that almost every adult said they would not only participate again but promised to get a friend or two involved.

I am so grateful for the many people who supported the program including our Principal Mr. Benz, Secondary Director of ELA, Larry Wahl, District Courier Jimmy Lehman, and my colleague Linda Law. … (Also) the staff of the offices at all the school pick up and drop off points. They didn’t have any advance notice and were very supportive too! At Schroeder, the front office staff, Kelly Dinsmore and Emily Zicari, were wonderful too!

Most of all, I want to extend my genuine gratitude to each and every community member who accepted our challenge to participate. The program taught my students that there are community members who care enough to take an interest in their work and lives. They gave of their most precious gift: time. There is no way to measure the value (short and long term) of that gift.

I would also like to add a thank you to the staff at the Webster Public Library. I arranged to have my packet dropped off there several times, and they were very accommodating.

I’m already looking forward to next year, and encourage others to come on board when Connolly ramps up the program again.


At the luncheon: Me and my reading partner Kaylee Ziemniak; Noah Vercruysse and his partner   Meredith Feary. Claire Belmont is photo-bombing. 

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Webster community mailbag

30 May

mailbag iconThere’s a whole pile of great events coming up in the next few weeks, starting this coming weekend.

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The Webster Marching Band will hold their annual spring bottle and can drive this Saturday June 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. They’ll come to your street, so all you have to do is bag up your returnables and put them outside your house, near your house or garage, making sure they’re visible from the street. DON’T leave them out at the street, and DON’T put them out overnight, so no one else decides to make the rounds and snag them.

You can also drop off your donations before 4 p.m. at Webster Schroeder High School, 875 Ridge Rd. And remember, the band operates a 24-hour bottle and can hotline. Call 234-8684 any time and leave a message. Someone will be back in touch to arrange a pickup time.

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Grab your kids and their bikes and head on out to the Bicycle Skills Rodeo on Saturday June 1 from 10 a.m. to noon, hosted by the Webster Police Department.

Held in the Town Court parking lot at 1000 Ridge Road, the event will give kids a chance to practice bicycle safety skills and learn about proper helmet fit.

Make sure to bring your bike and helmet. There will be a few extra helmets on hand for children who do not have them, but — really? All kids should own helmets and use them.

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The Webster Aquatic Center will host its Webster Youth Triathlon this Sunday June 2.

The event, which includes a swim, bike and run, is for children from kindergarten through age 16, and is scaled according to age. Kindergartners, for example, will swim 25 yards, bike a mile and run a 1/4 mile. Older kids will swim 150 yards, bike 4 miles and run a mile. There’s also a team relay option.

The swim will take place at the Aquatic Center and the run and bike portions on the Webster Schroeder campus.

Cost is $15 before June 2, $20 the day of the event. The first 200 participants will receive a goody bag and t-shirt.

To register and for more details, call the Webster Aquatic Center at 585-670-1087. You can also email race director Missy Whipple with questions, at

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Microsoft Word - Spry Evening Of Jazz Concert.docx

Prime Time Funk (provided)

The Webster community is invited to the annual Spry Evening of Jazz on Friday June 7 beginning at 7 p.m. at Webster Schroeder High School, 875 Ridge Rd.


There’s no admission charge for this concert, which will include a performance by special guest Prime Time Funk.

This should be a great evening of incredible music from our talented youngsters and outstanding Prime Time jazz artists. All for free!

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Webster’s Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market will open for the season on Saturday June 8. Many of your favorite vendors will be returning, and several new ones are also expected.

The market is held at Webster Towne Center Plaza (Kohl’s Target Plaza) near the gazebo in front of Old Navy. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October. You’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, baked goods, jams, honey, maple syrup, plants, herbs and flowers and crafts.

Also, this Saturday look for a Town of Webster booth where you can meet and chat with many of your town and county officials, first responders, and community organization representatives.

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Barbara Killip (Adrian DeJesus Photography)

Finally, congratulations to school bus driver Barbara Killip, who was recently named the Webster Central School District Transportation Department’s Employee of the Year. 

Barbara and transportation colleagues from throughout the area were recently honored at a brunch hosted by the Rochester Area Transportation Supervisors Association.

Our bus drivers do an amazing job keeping our children safe and aren’t always fully appreciated, so I love to see this recognition.

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Generations come together to make sweet music

29 May

Willink Joint May 2019 keep this one

The Willink Middle School 8th grade bands joined the Webster Village Band last night for a collaborative concert to help kick off the Village Band’s regular summer season.

An almost packed house enjoyed Willink band teacher Matt Osika’s Day 2 and Day 3 bands as they performed favorites including the Hawaii Five-O Theme; Moscow, 1941; See You Again; the Orpheus OvertureAlabama Folksong Fantasy; and Ghost Run.

The Webster Village Band followed, led by diirector Thomas Indiano, performing  Reflections From the Wall and the Irish Washerwoman from the Irish Suite. Associate Director Sue Siegmund conducted the first movement of Gustav Holst’s First Suite in Eb, Chaconne.

All the bands came together for the culminating piece, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with thundering “cannons” provided by the percussion section.

It was a wonderful evening and a great example of collaboration across the generations.  Thank you to Sylvia Hungerford for sending along the information, and to Tom Indiano for the photo.

The Webster Village Band hosts concerts most Thursday nights through the summer at the bandshell in Harmony Park on Phillips Rd. The first concert of the season is June 13. Click here for the full schedule.

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Webster’s Memorial Day Parade in photos

27 May

One of the reasons I wanted to move into the Village of Webster was to be walking distance from all of the village’s concerts, special events and parades. I knew it would be really neat to be able to step out my door and be five minutes or less from all sorts of great entertainment.

I got that wish this morning when I basically walked across the street to Spry Middle School, where the Memorial Day Parade was lining up.

We lucked out yet again with gorgeous weather for the parade, so aside from the fact I posted the wrong start time in my blog (which screwed me up as well as many other people, I suspect) it was a perfect day.

It seemed to me that the crowds were a little lighter than usual along the parade route and at the cemetery, but everyone who was there enjoyed a nice patriotic display befitting the solemn occasion we celebrated today.

I took a LOT of photos (I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you). Click here for the full gallery.

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Barry’s Old School hosts first ever Irish Festival

23 May


Our favorite Irish pub owners, Danny and Jessica Barry, have found yet another way to spread their love of all things Irish with the Rochester community. They’re decided to host their very own Irish festival.

It’s scheduled for Saturday Aug. 17 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at their farm, 2668 Brick Schoolhouse Rd. in Hilton.

They’re planning a pretty ambitious event. You can check out the details here on the Facebook event page, but briefly, they’re planning food trucks, lawn games, vendors, and kids’ activities (including quality time with their donkeys and goats).

Of course, there’s also entertainment, including all of the local Irish musicians you’ve come to know from Barry’s, plus Celtic Cross and 1916.

It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Tickets are $12 pre-sale, $15 on the day of the event (kids 12 and under are free). Tickets are available right now at the pub, 2 West Main Street in the village.

For sponsorship opportunities & any questions, e-mail the Barrys at

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Two opportunities to help save lives

22 May

The two-day Webster Community Blood Drive is coming up in just a few weeks, on June 5 and 6.

You know the one. It’s the one advertised by the big white signs placed all around town, and where you get raffle tickets just for showing up to win some fabulous prizes from our local business owners.

I’ll get into a bit more detail about that in a minute. But first, in case you can’t make that drive, here’s another opportunity coming up tomorrow, May 23:

200398_3430269The North East Joint Fire District and Webster Volunteer Fire Department are hosting an American Red Cross Blood Drive at the Webster Volunteer Fire Department’s Enderlin Station, 35 South Ave. in the Village of Webster on Thursday fro 1 to 7 p.m.

This annual drive encourages friendly competition between Webster Fire Department and West Webster Fire Department to see which can donate the most units. But of course they’re also hoping that all eligible donors in our community will come out and “answer the call,” and give blood in honor of our everyday heroes.

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The Webster Community Blood Drive will return on Wednesday, June 5 at St. Paul’s Church on Hard Rd. and Thursday June 6 at the Webster Recreation Center. Both days will run from noon to 7 p.m.

Already we have commitment for prizes from Barry’s Old School Irish, Knucklehead Craft Brewing, ROC & Soul Fitness, Beyond Cuts, the Chicken Coop, Webster Hots and Ploty’s (although there will be many more). We’re also pleased to have several new businesses join us this year, including The Pickled Paintbrush, Lala, The North Bee and The Best You Spa. And of course, everyone’s favorite prize, a coupon for a free pint of ice cream from Bruster’s will be handed to every donor who walks through the door!

Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, if you’re a business owner who would like to provide a raffle prize for the community drive, please email me at the address below!

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Memorial Day Parade details

21 May


It looks like the weather is going to start to become actually spring-like for a change, so we may luck out yet again for this year’s Memorial Day Parade on Monday morning.

This is always a very nice parade, and the ceremony that follows it at Webster Rural Cemetery is always moving. I highly recommend bringing your children to see both the parade and the ceremony, so they might begin to understand the huge debt we owe our servicemen and women.

Here are the details of Webster’s Memorial Day parade and ceremony, held Monday May 27, pulled from the Cottreall-Warner American Legion Post website:

  • 9:30 a.m.:  All groups participating in the parade will assemble at Spry Middle School on Sanford Street. All active duty and ex-service men and women are invited to take part in the parade.
  • 10:00 a.m.:  parade moves out from Spry, down South Avenue, turning west on Main Street and proceeding to Webster Rural Cemetery.

(I have seen two different times for this event, one saying the parade begins at 9:30, not 10. So get a seat early in case that’s what’s happening!)

The parade should completely arrive at the cemetery about 45 to 50 minutes after it begins at Spry. Following the service, refreshments will be served at the Elks Club on Jackson Road and all are invited to participate.


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Some thoughts about Joe Dady’s passing

20 May

joe-dadyThe Rochester Irish music scene suffered a devastating loss on Saturday with the passing of Joe Dady.

I had the pleasure and honor to call Joe Dady a friend. Our history began more than 20 years ago. Like many, my husband Jack and I knew of the Dady brothers from their frequent appearances around town and their reputation as one of Rochester’s top Irish duos. But we really got to know Joe and his brother John when we worked together creating the original Rochester Irish Festival in the mid-1990s, and worked side-by-side for several years to pull the annual festival together. Joe played a leadership role in that effort, because he was passionate about performing Irish music, and his desire to share it with as many people as possible.

Joe Dady was an inspiration, and I don’t use that word lightly. Back in the days of the Irish Festival, as at any performance the Dady Brothers played, when Joe took the stage and started playing his fiddle, everyone stopped to listen. One of those fans was my young son Sean, then only 5 years old.

I often tell the story about how little Sean would stand at the edge of the stage, looking up at Joe Dady as he performed, fascinated by what he was seeing. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for Irish music and Irish fiddling.

As Sean grew, he would listen to Dady Brothers’ cassette tapes so often he would wear them out. When it came time to choose an instrument at school, naturally he chose the violin — the fiddle — because he wanted to play like Joe Dady.

Sean is now a music teacher, professional musician, and outstanding fiddler. I firmly believe Joe Dady’s influence helped create the incredible young man he is today.

Until a few years ago, the Dady Brothers would regularly play at Barry’s Old School Irish. We would always make sure to stop by when they did, to reconnect and watch our old friends perform. It was always a nice evening, but one stands out among them all.

It was a little more than five years ago when John and Joe were playing for the first time at the pub. Joe at this point knew very well that Sean had become an accomplished fiddle player. At the beginning of their second set, he called Sean up to the microphone and handed him his own fiddle. For 20 minutes, Sean joined the Dady Brothers for a handful of traditional fiddle tunes and Dady Brothers standards, playing side-by-side with the man who inspired his musical career. (You can see video from that evening here.)

It was a magical evening and one I will never forget. Thank you, Joe Dady, for everything.

Click here to read the D&C story about Joe’s passing.

joe and sean

Joe Dady playing with my son Sean at Barry’s Old School Irish. Click here to see video.

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An update on the bike racks

17 May

A little more than a week ago I posted a blog about how the Village of Webster will be installing four new bike racks this summer. Village Board members will have the final decision on where they’ll be placed, but have invited input from the community to help them guide their decision.

So I created a survey suggesting nine different locations throughout the village. Thank you to everyone who has taken a minute to fill it out (and it really only takes a minute). I’ve gotten 36 responses so far, but would love to have a lot more before I present my findings to the Board in a few weeks.

Here’s an update on what people have been telling me so far:

bike rack 1* The top two most popular locations so far for the bike racks with the Town of Webster logo are 1) in front of Barry’s Old School Irish/The Garage Sale Store and 2) in Veterans Park. Running a close third is a spot in front of Village Hall.

bike rack 2

* The top two most popular locations for the racks with the bike insignia are 1) in the parking lot somewhere near Village Bakery and 2) in front of Barry’s/The Garage Sale Store. There is not a close third in this race yet.

If you’d like to weigh in with your opinion, there’s still plenty of time. To read more about how the bike racks came to be, click here to go to my original blog. Or click here to go directly to the survey.

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