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PTSA/WHEN-sponsored speaker will address social media concerns

27 Sep

I can’t speak for everyone in my generation, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I can’t keep up with the pace of technology. That’s especially the case with the proliferation of social media outlets. I mean, I’m still not even on board with TikTok and Snapchat, which in 2022 are among the elder statesmen of social media.

So I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to have kids right now, who seem to be on their phones every waking moment. Keeping them safe and focused on school and other responsibilities is a formidable task.

A program coming up on Tuesday Oct. 4 is designed to help parents with that task.

The program, sponsored by the Webster Central PTSA and the Webster Health Education Network (WHEN), is called Social Media and Your Kids. It features Mark Stossel, an award-winning poet and filmmaker, who will speak on how technology affects, influences, and makes addicts of all of us.

Stossel is kind of an expert in the field. He ran social media for multinational brands and worked for a social media company where he designed some of the same notification structures to distract people that he now raises awareness about. He has spoken with hundreds of thousands of students, parents, and educators around the world about social media’s impact on our lives and provides a unique and much needed critical perspective on the role of technology in schools and in our society. 

His presentation will illustrate some of the specific ways technology is designed to be addictive and distracting, give an overview of how students are using social media, and give recommendations on how to improve focus and diminish distraction in learning environments. 

Stossel will speak at assemblies at both Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, but the presentation on Oct. 4 is meant for the entire Webster community. It will be held at Webster Schroeder High School, 975 Ridge Rd., on Tuesday Oct. 4 beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information on Stossel, go to For more information on his Webster School District presentations, contact Joe Montemaro, district director of educational technology and information, at 216-0123 or

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(posted 9/27/2022)

Webster community mailbag

23 Sep

I’d like to lead this week’s mailbag with a huge THANK YOU from the Webster Museum.

The recent Museum Barn Sale, held Sept. 15 to 17, was a tremendous success, reportedly the best ever. Museum volunteers would like to thank the Webster community for all the donations, purchases and “delightful company.”

Your support for this — the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year — assures that the Webster Museum will be with us for another year, carefully preserving our town’s rich history.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Webster Public Library brings these two events your way:

  • Hispanic Heritage Month Night, Thursday Sept. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. Celebrate the month with a culture-filled evening of food, dance, music, crafts and more. All ages are welcome, and registration is requested. (Click here)
  • Hispanic Heritage Month Crafts, Saturday Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All ages are welcome, drop in anytime and no registration is required.

Also from the library, their big Fall Book Sale is right around the corner.

It happens Thursday through Saturday Oct. 6 to 8, with the best deals saved for Friday and Saturday. Check out all the details in the flyer below.

If your kids are REALLY into fire trucks, then you’ll want to mark these dates on your calendar.

The West Webster Fire Department will hold their open house on Sunday Oct. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m., and the Webster Volunteer Fire Department will hold their open house on Saturday Oct. 29 (during Halloween in the Village). These events offer much more than fire trucks, too. There are demonstrations, giveaways, a chance to check out all sorts of emergency equipment and talk to real first responders. But of course, there’s definitely plenty of opportunities to take a picture of your young firefighter sitting in a real fire truck.

The West Webster Fire Department is at 1051 Gravel Rd., and the Webster Volunteer Fire Department is on South Ave. in the Village of Webster. These events are both free and open to everyone.

Gleason Orthodontics, on South Ave. in the village, will be hosting a winter-wear donation drive from Oct. 1 through Nov. 20.

You can drop off adult and youth-sized coats, hats and gloves at the office, 246 South Ave., during regular business hours.

The Webster Recreation Center, Webster Central PTSA and Webster Teachers Association are also hosting a Concert Apparel and Coat Drive. They’re looking for any size (toddler through adult) of the following items in good condition:

  • Winter coats, jackets, pants, boots and accessories
  • Concert apparel: white and black tops, shoes, bottoms and accessories

Collection boxes are loated at each Webster Central School building through Oct. 27.

On Saturday Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Dr., anyone who needs winter or concert gear can come “shop” for gently-used items for free.

The Webster Aquatic Center will be hosting a Blood Drive on Tuesday Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aquatic Center, 875 Ridge Rd.

Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or log onto to make an appointment.

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(posted 9/23/2022)

First week of school, retirement style

7 Sep

Anybody who knows me — even just a little bit — knows that I’m having a hard time retiring.

After leaving the school district in June 2021, I decided I would sub for one, maybe two days a week. That turned into three or four some weeks, pretty much all year long. It’s gotten so people don’t ask me how I’m keeping busy, but, “So how much are you going to work THIS year?”

So it should be no surprise that just two days into the new school year, I had to stop by to visit the two schools where I spent the last five years of my teaching assistant career, Plank North and Schlegel Rd. elementary schools. I told myself that I wanted to meet the new librarian at Plank North and the new library teaching assistant at Schlegel Rd.

But we all know the REAL reason I made those visits.

I really wanted to see all those smiling, happy little faces again, walking through the halls with that first-week-of-school bounce in their steps.

It was especialy touching to see many of those happy little faces wave excitedly and call out my name as they walked past. It really reminded me how much I loved being there.

But not putting my feet on the floor until 7:30 every morning? I gotta say … I love that more.

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(posted 9/7/2022)

What does the PTSA actually DO, anyway?

3 Sep

I was chatting with a friend recently. She admitted that some time ago, the only things she knew about the PTSA was from watching Saved by the Bell and the movie Bad Moms, which pretty much depicted the organization as a cutthroat, no-holds-barred, Survivor-like clique.

In reality, of course, the Webster Central PTSA is nothing like that.

For starters, unlike in Bad Moms, the PTSA’s focus is not on the parents who run and volunteer for events; it’s squarely on the students, and the teachers and staff members who work so hard to support them.

PTSA parents help organize after-school clubs and school-wide activities like festivals and dances; they coordinate in-school events and class pictures, create the school yearbook and purchase school supplies. But PTSA members also have their fingers in dozens of other activities behind the scenes, supporting classroom teachers and administrators with their day-to-day responsibilities.

Those roles are pretty obvious to everyone, but the goals of our Webster Central PTSA go well beyond that, and provide more intangible benefits as well. For example, this year watch for a lot of new events encouraging not just student involvement, but also student leadership. The PTSA recognizes that today’s students are tomorrow’s future leaders, so we need to them to know that they have a voice, they have opinions, they have opportunities.

The Webster Central PTSA is also laser-focused this year on building a stronger school/community connection, which they’ll accomplish through supporting community events and collaborating with organizations and agencies that benefit Webster as a whole. Our schools have always been a One Webster community; the PTSA wants to make sure that everyone in the Town of Webster knows they’re an integral part of that community as well, whether they have children in the schools or not.

These are ambitious goals which will require many dedicated volunteers. But these efforts also need to be funded, and that’s where everybody can help out.

This year’s PTSA membership drive is in full swing. You can help support all of the PTSA’s ambitious goals by becoming a member. It costs just $10 for adults and $5 for students, and there’s no volunteering or meetings required.

Plus, members enjoy discounts all year at Nourished, Buffalo Wild Wings, The Waffle Factory, Color Me Mine, DQ Gill & Chill, Lala and Whimsies, Yolickity and more.

For more information and an on-line link to join, click here.

So, to answer that question I posed in the headline, our school PTSAs are more than book fairs and bake sales. They provide a vital link between school, students, families and the greater Webster community. They deserve — and need — our support.

That friend, by the way, who used to know so little about what the PTSA does? That was Jaime Richey, who is now the Webster Central PTSA co-president. The more she learned, the more she wanted to get involved. And now she hopes you will, too.

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(posted 9/3/2022)

Webster community mailbag

19 Aug

Yeee Haaaa!!! There’s a ro-DAY-o comin’ to town, and it’s gonna mean some SWELL eatin’!

For those of you who don’t know cowboy-speak, what I mean to say is that the Webster Marching Band’s annual Food Truck Rodeo is back this year on Tuesday Aug. 23 at a brand new location (because the Schroeder parking lot is kind of filled with school buses at the moment).

This year’s rodeo will be held at the Webster Firemen’s Field from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Among the trucks which will be there are:

  • Macarollin’
  • Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza
  • The Meatball Truck
  • Roc City Sammich
  • Rob’s Kabobs
  • Rob’s Sweet Tooth
  • Eat Greek
  • Effortlessly Healthy
  • Terry’s Tips and Beef
  • Melt Truck
  • Brusters

Proceeds from this delicious event will benefit our 2021 State Champion Webster Marching Band, so bring a big appetite.

I understand the Marching Band will actually be performing at this event, so bring some lawn chairs and make it a family night out. Admission is free.

The Village of Webster would like YOUR opinions on how the village can be improved.

The Webster Economic Development Alliance, in conjunction with the Webster Business Improvement District, is competing for $4.5 million from the NY Forward community revitalization program. As part of the competition process, Webster must submit an application on how we intend to spend $4.5 million in our community.

So the coalition is asking for community input. They’ve put together a short survey, hoping to gather thoughts about things like

• your vision for the downtown area
• where you’d like to see the money invested
• how projects should be prioritized

It’s a quick, 5-minutes or less survey. Click here to take it and to get more information.

The Webster Museum’s huge barn sale is fast approaching, and the donations are piling up. Word is that toys and games, puzzles and stuffed animals have taken over one whole corner of the donation barn at 394 Phillips Rd.

There’s still time for you to add your donations to the pile, but please do so by Sept. 5 (Labor Day). You can just drive by the barn and leave your donations inside. The museum welcomes household goods, tools, toys, pottery, collections, books, music, games, etc.  Think small and easy to lift. Please DO NOT leave large furniture, clothing, shoes, computers, exercise equipment or skis.

The sale itself will take place at the barn on Phillips Rd. from Sept. 15-17. More details to come about that.

Questions? Call Jan Naujokas 585-265-3268.

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(posted 8/19/2022)

New kindergartners invited to Strive for Five

25 Jul

The start of the new school year is just around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about buying supplies, getting up early again, and catching the bus.

For our youngest students, getting on a big school bus on that first day of school can be a little bit scary. A great program called Strive for Five for School Bus Safety helps allay some of those fears.

The program, now it is 15th year, is designed for 2022/23 incoming kindergartners. It gives children a chance to become familiar with school buses, and learn important safety procedures.

Due to construction at the transportation department, this year’s program will be held at Webster Schroeder High School, 875 Ridge Rd. It begins promptly at 6 p.m., and parents/guardians are asked to park in the high school’s main parking lot.

While at the transportation department, students will rotate through five stations teaching them the following safety elements:

  • Loading and unloading the bus
  • Proper crossing procedures
  • Danger zones surrounding the bus
  • Appropriate behavior on the bus
  • Emergency equipment/evacuation

Incoming kindergartners and their parents (no additional children, please) should attend as follows, if at all possible. IF you can’t make your assigned evening, you can come on another, but they district really likes to spread everyone out as much as possible.

August 1 – Plank South
August 2 – Klem North and Schlegel Rd.
August 3 – Klem South and State Rd.
August 4 – Plank North and Dewitt Rd.

Private and parochial students residing in the Webster Central School District can attend any one of the four dates.

The program will be held outside and will take place rain or shine.

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(posted 7/25/2022)

Annual Webster High School Alumni Dinner hosted 52 graduates

19 Jun

If you were a student of Latin at the old Webster High School (now Spry Middle School) back in the mid-1940s, you might remember the day that Miss Marie Stone wore a set of wax teeth to teach her Latin III class. It was her response to some good-natured shenanigans perpetrated by her students the previous day.

Unfortunately, that happened to be the same day the superintendent decided to visit the class for a surprise observation.

That was just one of many memories shared on Sunday June 12 at the Webster High School Annual Alumni Dinner. The dinner has been held every (non-COVID) year for more than 20 years, and this year was attended by more 52 graduates (and their guests) representing 12 classes from 1948 through 1962, the school’s last graduating year.

The event has been held at several different locations, including Casey Park, Webster Park and the Knights of Columbus Hall. This year’s dinner was graciously hosted by the Webster Golf Club.

The program began with greetings from Alumni Committee Vice President Jude Beh Lancy (class of 1959) and President Linda Briggs Auer (class of 1959), followed by dinner, a short business meeting and a centerpiece raffle. Recitation of the school’s Alma Mater concluded the official event, but there was plenty of socializing before everyone left for the evening.

After the dinner concluded, Lancy also acknowledged the many people and businesses who helped make it a success, including Dave Tiberio at Webster Golf, who carved out some Sunday afternoon hours for the dinner to be held; Kittelberger Florist for donating the centerpieces; Hegedorns and Lala of Webster for donating raffle prizes; and Dave Eckler at the Weekend Printer for printing the invitations and program.

It sounds like it was a great evening, and I’m sure everyone is already looking forward to next year.

Here are a few photos, courtesy Linda Auer:

I thought you might be interested in reading the entire story about Miss Stone and her wax teeth. It came from a scrapbook which Mary “Pappy” Pantas (class of 1946) put together about her years at Webster High, and donated to the Webster Museum.

She wrote,

Anyone who has taught school knows the last period of the day is the hardest to deal with. Such was the case of Miss Stone’s Latin III class. The subject is dull, the students are restless, etc. Those of us (who haven’t always done our assigned translations) loved getting Miss Stone off the subject and often got the class laughing by cutting up.

One day Miss Stone had had enough and she said to our little circle of class clowns, “Tomorrow if you kids say anything to get the class laughing and off the subject you will suffer the consequences.” This was seen by all of us as a challenge.

Putting our impish heads together, we thought about it. “She said if we SAY anything. What if we DO SOMETHING and SAY NOTHING?” A trip to Bowman’s the next day during our lunch hour and a purchase of several sets of wax false teeth was all that was needed for our perfect prank. Eighth period came and at a pre-designed time, those of us perpetrators turned around to look at the clock and inserted our wax “CHOPPERS.” LAUGHTER ERUPTED! Miss Stone could not follow through with her threat because we did not SAY anything!

The following day we filed through the glass window-paned door. Miss Stone was seated at her desk with a hanky covering her nose and mouth. After taking our seats, she arose and, lo and behold, she had a set of wax teeth in her mouth. She proceeded to teach the class!

But that wasn’t the end of it. A figure of a rotund, bald-headed man appeared at the glass door and entered our classroom. It was none other than Mr. Rayfield, the Superintendent of Monroe County Schools who had come unannounced to observe Miss Stone and her class!

Miss Stone was flabbergasted and frantically worked at removing her teeth. We learned later that she had spent much of her free period before our class working hard to mold her “teeth” so she could speak without losing them. What an ending to our “perfect prank.”

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(posted 6/19/2022)

Webster community mailbag

17 Jun

Are you headed to the Jazz Fest this weekend?

Schroeder Jazz Ensemble is playing Saturday June 18 at 5 p.m. on the Gibbs Street Stage. Make sure to stop by if you’re nearby and cheer these young people on (and their music teachers, Mrs. Cole and Mr. Lindblom!)

A food truck rodeo and vendor fair being held on Tuesday, June 21 will benefit our Webster Girl Scouts and the great programs they offer.

The rodeo will be held at Willink Middle School, 900 Publishers Parkway, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on June 21, and feature:

  • Bay Vista Taqueria
  • Mrs. D’s Empanadas
  • Pub 235
  • Rob’s Sweet Tooth
  • Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza

Tons of vendors will also be there (check out the poster for that list), community agencies will have information booths, and live entertainment will be provided by Brian Roode. Make sure to bring some lawn chairs.

Sounds like good food, good music, and a fabulous way to help the Girl Scouts (they do so much more than sell cookies)!

This happy news, from the Webster School District, is another great illustration of all of the good things our young people are doing for our community.

The students of Spry Middle School recently presented a check for $2,107.76 to officials from Challenger Miracle Field, representing donations received through several Spirit Week events.

The Spry Student Council chooses a charity every year to benefit from various Spirit Week competitions. This year they hosted jar wars (a competition to collect loose change), restaurant nights at Panera and Bill Gray’s, and as a culminating activity, a kickball game.

The kickball game was played several weeks ago at Miracle Field itself. The game blended Spry students with Challenger players on each of Spry’s house teams. Following the game, the coveted Spirit Stick was presented to the White House team, which earned the most points from all of the week’s events.

Admission to the kickball game and concessions, added to the week’s earlier fundraising efforts, drove the final Challenger Miracle Field donation total to more than than $2,100.

And that was in just one week. Pretty cool. Nice job, Spry!

The Village of Webster’s Family Game Nights are Back!

The first Family Games & Beer Garden Night of the summer is scheduled for Friday June 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. on West Main St. There’s going to be tons for the kids (and game-loving adults) to do, including sidewalk chalk, Giant Jenga, Giant Connect Four and cornhole. Chad the DJ will provide music, and Kaitlyn from TozziYoga will be there to get everyone moving.

Plus, there’s beer. Did I mention that?

For more information about this and other upcoming village events, like the Movie Nights at the Gazebo, the next Village Wine Walk, Friday Night Concerts and more, visit the Webster BID website.

Don’t forget about this Sunday’s West Webster Cemetery Tour, your chance to learn more about West Webster history, and some of the people who lived there … and are buried there.

On Sunday June 19, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Webster Museum will host an historical tour of the West Webster Cemetery, featuring a dozen reenactors portraying many of the former residents who now rest there. The characters will be hanging out by their gravestones, awaiting visitors to wander by and hear their stories.

I’ll be there, portraying Martha Cottreall, who died in 1934 at the age of 72. I’ll talk about my life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and especially about the accomplishments of my husband — who participated in a famous Arctic rescue operation — and son, who fought in WWI.

Tour visitors will also hear from Angelina Aldridge (wife of John O. Aldridge), Ebenezer Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Drake, and Sylvester Brewer (who will talk about the Civil War and the Army of the Grand Republic), and many others.

It should be a fascinating way to learn more about our town’s oldest cemetery, and to hear some of the memories of West Webster’s past, spoken by voices of the present.

There’s no charge to attend the event, but donations are always gratefully accepted. Attendees are being asked to park at St. Rita’s Church, across Maple Dr. from the cemetery. NO PARKING signs will be posted along Old Ridge Rd. and Maple Dr.

If you’d like to learn more about the cemetery before Sunday’s tour, you’re invited to attend a presentation at the museum on Saturday, June 18 at 2 p.m. when Peter Elder will talk about the cemetery’s history.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. It’s open 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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(posted 6/17/2022)

Elementary schools welcome back the class of 2022

16 Jun

Earlier this week, in each of Webster’s elementary schools, a celebration took place which has always been one of my favorite end-of-school-year festivities: the graduate parade. This is an annual (non-COVID-year) event when our Webster Thomas and Schroeder seniors hop on buses and go back to visit the elementary schools where they began their Webster Schools career.

It was June of 2015 when most of these seniors last walked the halls of their elementary schools. But this week, as the class of 2022, they walked proudly through them again, and judging from the reaction of the young students who lined the halls in welcome, you’d think they were conquering heroes.

Nodding to the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to recognize these tall, mature adults for the freckle-faced young people they once were, each senior wore a sign with his or her name and post-graduation plans. As they paraded down one hall, then another, they passed hundreds of cheering and applauding kindergarten through fifth grade students. Every so often the parade was slowed when a graduate stopped to take a photo or get a long hug from a favorite teacher.

I was one of many retirees invited back to enjoy the parade of Webster Schroeder seniors at Plank Rd. North. I started working there after these kids had already gone on to middle school. But it was a real treat to see the joy on the teachers’ faces as their former students paraded by. It was especially fun to watch their eyes light up as they put a name to a face they hadn’t seen in seven years.

And the seniors? Every single one of them was grinning from ear to ear.

What a wonderful way to celebrate our seniors, congratulate them on their success, and remind them how much they have accomplished.

Here are some more photos from the morning:

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(posted 6/16/2022)

Students learn life skills at the OWL Cafe

13 Jun

A small, student-run cafe has sprung up at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School, and it’s providing a lot more than just coffee and snacks for both students and staff.

The “OWL Cafe, Coffee and More” is being operated by the students of the One Webster Learning (OWL) Center, a small program serving Webster Central School District students in grades K-12. 

The cafe, which has been operating for about a month, was first proposed for Schlegel by OWL social worker Kelly Petzing, who saw a similar venture at another school. She immediately recognized that “it would be a good opportunity for the kids to plan something, work together, and use different skills,” she said. It’d be an especially good way to reinforce the mathematics and social skills they’ve been working on all year.

So she brought the idea to OWL teacher Brennan Leva, and together they presented it to the students.

“They were all super excited about it,” Petzing said. So they started planning, working with the students to come up with a name, figuring out what kinds of jobs were required, what services to provide and what products to sell.

The cafe launched about a month ago, and the students immediately proved they were up to the challenge of operating a new business. They rotate among three jobs, Leva said: set-up, cashier and barista. Each presents a different set of learning goals.

“For set-up, students need to learn what things they need to get ready each day, and how to make a list of items that might be missing,” Leva explained. “The cashier’s job is to greet customers, count money and give change.”

The job of barista, however, is probably the most popular. This student listens for the orders, makes the coffee in the Keurig or pours the tea, and hands the drink order to the customers.

The cafe is open for an hour every morning and a half hour in the afternoon. Its menu includes hot or iced coffee, hot or iced tea, seltzer water and a variety of cookies, chips, fresh fruit and other snacks.

It’s a very professionally run business. Every employee wears a crisp blue apron, complete with name tag. Customers are immediately greeted with a polite, “Welcome to OWL Cafe, Coffee and More. How can we help you?” Orders are filled quickly, change is made accurately (albeit with some adult help) and if you need creamer or sugar, you’ll find it at the well-stocked condiment bar. There are even regular specials like half-off hot tea, or buy a drink and get a hand-made bracelet for free. They offer loyalty cards. There’s even an “Employee of the Week,” his or her photo posted next to the condiment bar.

In the short time the cafe has been open, the students have already shown great strides in self-confidence and even leadership skills, Leva said She added,

At first it was a lot of adult help but I think they can pretty much run it self-sufficiently. They’ve really taken over ownership of it. We’ve had some of the younger kids start training. So it’s nice to see that they took complete control of training them, told them everything they need to know, gave them aprons so they’re ready to go.”

A few students have even said they might like to work at Starbucks someday.

Schlegel staff members have embraced the new cafe with open arms, keeping the staff busy with orders for coffee, tea and snacks.

Consultant teacher Bill Ambler is a regular customer.

“The OWL Cafe staff greet me every morning with a smile and a fresh iced coffee,” he said. “The students are always so eager to serve and offer their recommendations. It’s wonderful to see some friends who have been very shy in the past come out of their shells when talking to staff, and a noticeable increase in self-confidence.”

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(posted 6/13/2022)