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Webster students head to national ninja competition

13 Feb

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Two Dewitt Elementary School students will be headed to Hartford, CT this weekend to compete in the 2019 World Championships of the National Ninja League (NNL).

Grayson Schoeffler and Megan Stupplebeen, classmates in Mrs. Krieger’s second grade class, will be competing against kids from all around the world in the 6 to 8-year old division.

Grayson and Megan both train at the Warrior Factory in Henrietta, where they qualified for the national NNL competition with top-three finishes in local competitions.

Both Grayson and Megan have been ninja warriors pretty much their whole lives. Grayson’s mom, Alison, says her son

started his ninja career when he was 10 months and climbing out of his crib. From there he basically has been swinging and climbing off anything in his way….All great ninjas have a ninja name and Grayson is known as the Hardway Ninja, (because he usually does everything the Hard Way).

Megan’s mother Cathy describes her daughter (AKA “MEGatron”) as an “8-year old dynamo.”

She enjoys training with several friends and her brother, Peter (age 11) during open gym at The Warrior Factory…. We have converted the majority of the basement to be ninja central where Megan works on ring toss, cliffhanger, climbing walls, balance obstacles and whatever the newest challenge is. Megan works with her dad and brother on building new obstacles.

The four-day long competition, held Feb. 15-18, is divided into several age categories from the youngest (6-8) through masters (40 and over). Competitors typically tackle up to ten obstacles on every course. If you want to check out the kinds of challenges these kids might face, click here to see a video of a past (very young) first-place competitor. If you ever watch these ninja competitions on TV, I think you’ll recognize some of the elements.

From reading their emails, it’s clear to me how proud both families are of their young ninja warriors. But both moms also emphasized how positive and supportive the young ninja community is.

“One of our favorite aspects of ninja is how all ninjas cheer each other on, it’s such a positive community,” Cathy said. Alison added, “It has been such a positive sport for (Grayson) as everyone is so encouraging of each other.”

Check back here after the weekend for an update on how MEGatron and the Hardway Ninja did!

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Webster teachers take the plunge

11 Feb

We got some of the greatest teachers in the world here in Webster.

Sunday at noon, I joined about a dozen of my Webster school district teaching colleagues to participate in the 2019 Polar Plunge at Ontario Beach Park to benefit Special Olympics.

If you consider how bad the weather could have been (think back to our recent cold snap and high winds), it actually was a pretty nice day to go take a dip in a frozen lake. I mean, we had bright sunshine, the temperature was in the mid-20s, and there was barely any wind to speak of.

But let me be clear. It was cold. Teeth-chattering cold. Especially when all you’re wearing is a t-shirt and shorts. And that was before you actually went into the lake. The nice Rochester City Parks folks were kind enough to carve a swimming area out of the ice for all the plungers, but it was still like wading through a Slushie.

This was my first Polar Plunge, as it was for most of my colleagues. I believe I speak for many of us when I say I probably would not have done it alone. But having a supportive group of friends shivering right along with me made the whole experience a lot more bearable — and dare I say it? — enjoyable.

But here’s the best part: thanks to the generosity of our friends and Webster colleagues, our WTA team raised $5,000 for Special Olympics, placing us on the top-10 honor roll for team donations. 

These are your kids’ teachers, folks. We are lucky to live and work in the Webster Central School District.

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Community readers are needed!

9 Feb

booksThe Webster school district is looking for some book-loving adults who’d like to participate in a pilot reading program being led by Webster Schroeder English teacher Eileen Connelly.

The program is called Webster Community Reading. Connelly describes how it will look:

The program pairs adult readers with high school students. Each pair reads and responds to a novel over a period of about four weeks. The kids read the book in class and answer four questions in a notebook; the book and notebook are then delivered to the adult reader who completes the same task and returns it. A district courier drops off books and notebooks at central locations around the district and we have a luncheon at the end where readers get a chance to meet each other.

Readers only have to commit to four weeks of reading. Books will be provided and delivered to a location of your choosing.

Connelly said that the program has been very successful at Brighton High School.  She has chosen to pilot the program here in Webster with one of her sophomore English classes.

But to be successful, Webster Community Reading has to have readers. So far only six people have signed up for 26 open slots. If you’re interested in taking part, click here to fill out the very short registration form. If you have any questions about the program, drop Eileen Connelly an email at eileen_connelly@webstercsd.org.

What a great way to encourage literacy! I’ve already signed up.

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“Anything Goes” opens this Thursday

6 Feb

wizard of oz

Congratulations to the students of Willink Middle School for an outstanding performance of The Wizard of Oz last weekend! It was a fitting kick-off to the spring musical season, which continues this coming weekend when Webster Schroeder High School presents Anything Goes. 

The scene is a cruise ship in the late 1930s. Carefree broker Billy Crocker finds out that the woman he’s in love with is engaged to someone else and about to set sail on the luxury liner S.S. American, he sets in motion a madcap plan to stow away on the ship, win socialite Hope Harcourt’s hand, impress his boss, and evade law enforcement who anythinggoes_home400think he’s Snake Eyes Johnson, Public Enemy #1.

It’s a funny musical adventure, packed with Cole Porter songs you already love (like “Friendship” and “I Get a Kick Out of You”).  Showtimes are Feb. 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10-$15, available online at www.Showtix4u.com or at any Wegmans.

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Teachers “Plunging” for a cause

5 Feb

polar plungeI work with some pretty crazy colleagues. Crazy dedicated to students, that is.

Several of my colleagues at Schlegel Road Elementary School — and at least two others from Schroeder and Plank North — are teaming up to participate in the Polar Plunge this coming Sunday, which takes place annually at Ontario Beach Park.

In this very, very cold event, participants raise money for Special Olympics by “plunging” into Lake Ontario. There’s no swimming skills involved; even dipping a toe in counts as a plunge.

The Rochester Polar Plunge is the largest Polar Plunge in New York and one of the largest in the entire U.S. It’s part of the Special Olympics New York Polar Plunge series. There are over 15 Polar Plunges statewide and the event serves as the signature fundraising initiative to benefit the athletes and programs of Special Olympics New York.

The first Plunge in Rochester was held in 2001 and had 75 plungers with $15,000 being raised. It has since grown tremendously, drawing 2,300 plungers in 2016, who raised more than $300,000.

Here are the current team members (maybe one of them has taught your kids):

From Schlegel: Meg Dugan, Bill Ambler, Dan DeStephano, Jill Mancini, Janet Gibson and Becky Plouffe. Joining them are Dan Crowley from Plank North and Linda Law from Schroeder.

The team members are still looking for donations to encourage their efforts. You can click this link to support one specific team member or the entire team. And if you’re not doing anything this Sunday at noon, come on down to the lake and watch your WCSD teachers take the Plunge!

(Believe it or not, I’m seriously considering joining them……)

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Spring musical season is upon us

26 Jan

We’re about to face some of the coldest weather we’ve had all winter. But perhaps this news will warm your heart:

IT’S SPRING MUSICAL TIME! 

Both Willink and Spry middle schools and Thomas and Schroeder high schools will be staging their spring musical productions in the next two months.

Willink kicks off the schedule next weekend with Off to See the Wizard, presented in three shows on Friday Feb. 1 and Saturday Feb. 2.

Daniella Gibson leads a cast and crew of more than 100 sixth, seventh and eighth graders as they present the well-known story of a Kansas farm girl, her dog Toto and their adventures in Oz. Joining her as the main characters are Trevor Heaphy as the Scarecrow, Marcello Servanti as the Tinman, Ryley Norton as the Cowardly Lion, and Martina Nicolay as the Wizard of Oz.

This musical classic will be performed at Willink Middle School, 900 Publishers Parkway,  on Friday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 2 at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $9.00 per adult and $6 for students and senior citizens and can be purchased the week of January 28 through the Drama Club website .

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anythinggoes_home400

Next up is Anything Goes at Webster Schroeder the following weekend, Feb. 7 through 9.

The scene is a cruise ship in the late 1930s. Carefree broker Billy Crocker finds out that the woman he’s in love with is engaged to someone else and about to set sail on the luxury liner S.S. American, he sets in motion a madcap plan to stow away on the ship, win socialite Hope Harcourt’s hand, impress his boss, and evade law enforcement who think he’s Snake Eyes Johnson, Public Enemy #1.

It’s a funny musical adventure, packed with Cole Porter songs you already love (like “Friendship” and “I Get a Kick Out of You”).  Showtimes are Feb. 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10-$15, available online at www.Showtix4u.com or at any Wegmans.

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guys and dolls

The Spry Middle School Drama Club will present Guys and Dolls, Jr. on March 8 and 9.

In case you’re not familiar with this show, here’s a quick description from imdb.com:

All the hot gamblers are in town, and they’re all depending on Nathan Detroit to set up this week’s incarnation of “The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York”; the only problem is, he needs $1000 to get the place. Throw in Sarah Brown, who’s short on sinners at the mission she runs; Sky Masterson, who accepts Nathan’s $1000 bet that he can’t get Sarah Brown to go with him to Havana; Miss Adelaide, who wants Nathan to marry her; Police Lieutenant Brannigan, who always seems to appear at the wrong time; and the music/lyrics of Frank Loesser, and you’ve got quite a musical.

The original 1955 movie starred Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. When it was made into a Broadway play, it was just as entertaining, and many of the songs have become embedded in our theater culture (including “Luck Be a Lady”).

I don’t have a whole lot of details yet, but it appears that Guys and Dolls will take the stage on Friday March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday March 9 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. More details to come as I find out about them, but you can also keeps tabs on the show at the Spry Drama Club website.

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Concluding the spring musical schedule this year is Webster Thomas’ production of Cinderella from March 28-30.

This will the Rodgers & Hammerstein, Broadway version of the play, so it should be spectacular. I’m still getting details about this as well, but I do know that the shows will be March 28, 29 and 30 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on March 30. Tickets will be $12.

The cast will also be hosting a breakfast with Cinderella on Saturday, March 23 at 9 a.m., which will be a great way for your kids to get excited about the show. More details will follow about that as well.

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CAD: One of the first signs of spring

15 Jan

cadThere’s definitely a whole lot of winter to go yet, but you know spring can’t be too far off when you receive news of Community Arts Day, our school district’s annual show-off day.

 

This year’s event, which is always held at Webster Schroeder High School, is scheduled for Saturday April 6. As usual, it will feature performing groups, hundreds of student art displays, food, crafts and face painting for the kids, baked goods, craft vendors, community groups exhibits and lots more. It’s always a fun, free day of activities for the whole family, so make sure to put it on your schedule right now.

At this point in the planning stages, organizers are looking for vendors and volunteers. Lots of adult and youth volunteers are needed every year to help this event run smoothly. Students can earn service credit, and adults will enjoy a general good feeling of doing something positive for our community and supporting your school children.

Find out more about Community Arts Day and how you can be a part of it by visiting their webpage here or email Jennifer Hyrhorenko at CAD@websterptsa.org.

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St. Rita School hosts open house

14 Jan
snowgraders

St. Rita School third graders celebrating the season — and the cold weather! 

Yeah, we’re stuck in the worst part of winter right now, but things are already gearing up for the next school year.

If you’ve been considering sending your children to a parochial school, you’ve got a great opportunity this week to check out St. Rita School. They’ll be hosting an open house on Wednesday Jan. 16 at 7 p.m., where prospective parents and students can learn more about the school’s curriculum, meet the teachers, visit the classrooms and our the school.

Make sure to check out the school’s Facebook page to see lots of photos (like the adorable one above) of the kinds of activities St. Rita students do in school and around town.

St. Rita School is located at 1008 Maple Drive in Webster. For more information, call 585-671-3132, or check out their webpage here.

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High schools’ fight songs update!

12 Jan

capture

A couple of days ago I posted a blog about Jason Hammersla, a 1995 Webster graduate, who has written two songs which he hoped might be adopted as alma maters for Webster Schroeder and Thomas high schools.

At the end of that blog I asked readers to let me know of any such songs exist for either or both of the schools. On Friday morning, I got an email from Webster Thomas principal Glenn Widor, who informed me that Thomas does indeed have an alma mater, which is sung at every graduation.

I further heard from Thomas music teacher Brenda Nitsch that Kyle Sackett ’08, alumnus of the Thomas vocal music program, wrote the song while studying music education and performance at Fredonia.

Here it is:

Near the shores of Lake Ontario stands a school which we hold dear.
Webster Thomas, we’ll make a promise to always keep you near.
With every teacher, staff and student our moral compass will be aligned
And together we will fight with her colors blue and white!

Live forever Titan pride!

I still haven’t heard anything about a Schroeder alma mater,  however. If I do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, here’s the link again to my previous blog where you can see what Jason wrote.

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Webster grad proposes two new school fight songs

10 Jan

capture

Several weeks ago I received a very interesting email from one Jason Hammersla. Now a resident of Alexandria, Virginia, Jason was a 1995 Webster High School graduate. You may recognize the name since his mother, Arleen, was an elementary school reading teacher in the district for many years.

Despite having moved away from Webster, Jason remembers his high school years fondly, and believes with a passion that his years at Webster High created the successful person he is today.

He wrote,

The feverishly dedicated administration, the wildly passionate faculty and staff and even the strangely enthusiastic student government created a community whose warmth stood in direct contradiction to the surrounding weather. …

Webster High School was and is a testament to the value of a first-class public education, even in an era of a flagging local economy, surging enrollment and increasing responsibility for the most vulnerable students.

He added that when he was here, he didn’t think the school had a fight song, an alma mater so to speak. (“Or if it did, it was ill-remembered and disregarded.”)

He decided that oversight needed to be fixed. So he sat down and wrote this:

SCHROEDER

I will always be a warrior
For knowledge and the truth
I will hold on tight to the fading light
And the passion of my youth
To the ones who made me who I am
I could never say goodbye
I owe all I’ve earned to the things I learned
At my dear old Schroeder High

I will always be a warrior
For my faith and righteousness
And as I may roam I’ll remember home
And the ones who know me best
With appreciation reverent
For the wisdom you supply
With your courage and encouragement
We remember Schroeder High

I will always be a warrior
For the honest and the fair
When I search my heart for the warmest part
I will always find you there
All the principles you gave to me
These I swear will never die
For I cling to these, with the memories
Of my dear old Schroeder High

(Click here to listen to the song actually performed by Jason’s friend Jason Menkes.)

Just to be equal (the district is all about parity between the schools, after all), he also wrote one for Thomas (which you can listen to here):

THOMAS

Of all my days, my brightest days
Are lit with wonder at the ways
My mind recalls and spirit stays
With Webster Thomas High
And now no treasures can replace
No winter winds would dare erase
The lessons learned here in this place
For Titans rule the world

Of all my dreams, the sweetest dreams
Are those when I was young, it seems
And all we had were plans and schemes
At Webster Thomas High
And if my memories do err
And life was something less than fair
I still think life’s worth living there
Where Titans rule the world

Of all my friends, my closest friends
Are those for whom our love depends
On fitful starts and happy ends
At Webster Thomas High
We’ll always have the stories told
Of memories and blue and gold
Of Thomas high, and times of old
When Titans ruled the world

Jason sent his finished songs to Superintendent Gumina, who “seemed chagrined to inform me that Webster Thomas High School, at least, already has a school song….. But he also said “love the music!!” and said that he would “share with the principal and the choral director as well as with the student council advisors.”

Well, that was a while ago, and Jason hasn’t heard anything back, so the songs are probably dead in the water.

But I’m curious what you all think about them. If you’re a Schroeder or Thomas graduate — or if you have children who attend there — do you know what the school’s alma mater is? Or even if there is one? I’d love to hear from you if you can track one down!

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