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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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Webster Community Mailbag

3 Jan

mailbag iconA couple notes from our schools lead today’s mailbag.

First, a reminder to parents who have children ages birth to 5 years old. You’re asked to help the Webster Central School District plan for future enrollments by completing a short census survey. It’s available on the district website, websterschools.org, and will be open until January 11. If you’d rather fill out a hard-copy form, you can participate by calling WCSD Central Registration at 216-0029.

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The third graders at Dewitt Rd. Elementary School recently helped spread the gift of literacy.

After completing an ELA unit on access to books around the world, the students decided they wanted to help their fellow Greater Rochester students get their hands on some great books.

So they worked with their teachers and building administrators to organize, dedicate and donate boxes of books which were no longer being read in school — many of which were from personal classroom libraries from recently retired teachers. The books were delivered on December 21 to the YWCA in downtown Rochester for distribution to the families they serve.

Webster kids doing great things again. You gotta love it.

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Here are a few upcoming library programs which might interest you:

Beginner Quilting: This 4-day course (attendees must attend all 4 days) will walk participants through the basics of making a quilt, and at the end each participant will leave with a finished quilt sampler. Fabric will be provided, but please bring your own sewing machine.

The program will be held Saturdays from 10:30 a.mm to 2:30 p.m. on January 19 and  26, and February 2 and 9. Click here to register.

And your kids are not going to want to miss this: the Night at Hogwarts, Saturday January 19 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The night of magical fun will include crafts, activities, music, refreshments, live animals, fortune telling, potions, Quidditch, and more. Tickets are $2 for youth (2-17), $4 for adults. They’re available at the library now.

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The First Baptist Church of Penfield’s next Saturday Flapjack Breakfast is scheduled for January 19 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the church, 1862 Penfield Road.

For just $5 per person, you get all-you-can-eat pancakes, pure maple syrup, scrambled eggs, sausage, and beverages. All are welcome, and the venue is handicapped accessible.

Proceeds this month will benefit the Shepherd Home, a hospice care facility located in Penfield.

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Webster Hots joins Spry MS to recognize students

31 Dec

Bill and Kelly Mutschler, owners of Webster Hots in the Village of Webster, have teamed up with Spry Middle School to recognize star students.

Once a month, Spry administrators will choose a CARE Student of the Month, randomly choosing from a collection of CARE cards. The cards are submitted by staff members, who use them to nominate students for the award, based on students’ exhibiting CARE behaviors (cooperation, accountability, respect and excellence).

One winner each month will be awarded a $20 gift card from Webster Hots. Here’s a video explaining the whole program:

The first honoree will be announced on Webster Hots’ Facebook page on Monday, Dec. 31. Winning students will also be posted in a special spot reserved on Webster Hots’ wall for CARE Program honorees.

Webster Hots is located at 55 East Main Street in Webster.

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Two holiday events to start the season

1 Dec
IMG_9869

At St. Martin last night, this young lady had to make sure her letter to Santa was placed in his mailbox before visiting with him. 

Happy December!

There are so many holiday events on the calendar over the next few weeks. This weekend is a particularly busy one, with the White Christmas in the Village celebration today leading the list.

I can’t make it to every one, but I did catch a few community parties last night at St. Martin Lutheran Church and Plank Rd. North Elementary School.

St. Martin’s annual Christmas party is terrific. And it’s always the first place every Christmas season that I get to see Santa. The church’s community room is nicely decorated, the volunteers are dressed like elves, there’s free pizza and cookies, and the Girl Scouts run games for the children.

I was really impressed how volunteers were taking beautiful photos of children with Santa, then immediately running them off on a color printer for parents to take home with them. What a treasure.

Here’s a little video of photos from the evening:

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Plank North’s Share the Season is always fun as well. There’s caroling around the piano, Christmas cookies to be frosted and sprinkled, and lots of holiday crafts — ornaments and wreaths — which kids and adults make to be donated to different community agencies.

Here are some photos from last night:

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I’ll be walking around with my camera all afternoon today, and definitely during the parade of lights tonight. Hope to see you all!

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Webster community mailbag

30 Nov

Here’s a quick note from the Webster Fire Department: When you’re in town this Saturday, Dec. 1 for the White Christmas in the Village celebration, remember to bring a jacknew, unwrapped toy for the JACK Foundation Toy Drive.

All donations can be dropped off at the fire house, 35 South Avenue, and all the toys will be distributed to local charities.

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The Webster Lions Club will host their annual FREE Pancake Breakfast with Santa this Sunday, December 2.

Breakfast will be served at Webster East Golf Club, 440 Salt Rd., from 8 a.m. to noon. It includes pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, English muffins, hot and cold beverages, raffles, prizes, gift certificates and (of course) a visit from Santa.

There’s no charge, but donations will be gratefully accepted to benefit Santa’s Workshop, One Soldier at a Time and other Lions Club charities.

For more information, visit the Lions Club website here.

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Here’s a nice story from our schools.

Five Webster Thomas High School art students have brightened Rochester General Hospital’s Lipson Cancer Institute by creating landscape murals for the center’s infusion room.

A new Center for Critical Care is being built at Rochester General Hospital and as part of the project, the windows of the infusion room at Lipson have been boarded up — and will be for two to three years — leaving the room devoid of outside light.

The Lipson Cancer Center reached out to Webster Thomas art teacher Todd Stahl inquiring about painting a mural that could cover the windows. Students Quinn Bartusek, Delaney David, Sarah Postigo, Olivia Meynadasy, and Alexandra Steve answered the call. All are members of the school’s art club, who worked throughout last school year to create a five-panel nature themed mural. The finished mural was delivered in October, and on November 21, a few of the artists and their teacher visited the infusion room to see the mural and meet some of the patients.

Art Students

Webster Thomas art students with a patient at the Lipson Cancer Institute. (provided)

Finally, since December is just around the corner, here’s a look at some of the programs the Webster Public Library has in store for in next several weeks:

  • LuLaRoe Pop-Up Boutique, Saturday Dec. 8, from noon to 2 p.m. This is a good chance to get a head start on your holiday shopping, and proceeds will benefit the library.
  • Webermusic Interactive Family Concert, Saturday Dec. 15 from 2 to 3 p.m, featuring  husband and wife duo Gerard and Jeanne Weber. The holiday show will includes a mix of holiday (religious and secular) as well as popular tunes from multiple eras. Kids and adults will be invited to play along with shakers and bells.
  • Make Your Own Snow Globes, Wednesday Dec. 16, 3:30 to 5 p.m. A great after-Christmas activity for the whole family. All ages are welcome, and registration is required.
  • And save the date for the library’s Night at Hogwarts, Saturday Jan. 19 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The night of magical fun will include crafts, activities, music, refreshments, live animals, fortune telling, potions, Quidditch, and more! Tickets are $2 for youth (2-17), $4 for adults. They’re available at the library beginning January 10.

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