Tag Archives: Webster Thomas High School

A shout-out for some great teachers (part 2)

21 Jun

I’m pleased this morning to present Part 2 of my teacher shout-out series, highlighting some great teachers and the amazing job they did this year. (Scroll down the page a bit or click here to see Part 1.) I’ll post Part 3 — the final installment — tomorrow, so you still have time to get your submissions to me! Email me at missyblog@gmail.com.

(These passages have been edited only slightly for punctuation and grammar. The sentiments are otherwise unfiltered, and straight from the heart.)

I’m going to start with the only submission I got from a high school…


Providing the right tools for success

I would like to highlight Kristen Hubright, Earth Science teacher at Webster Thomas.

Mrs. Hubright spent an immense amount of time preparing take-home interactive lesson plans and recording video lessons that really helped my son, who is in her Integrated Co-Teach class, become more independent in his learning process. In fact, her science units were designed so well that he was able to work on them without any intervention on my part.

As a science educator myself, having varied resources to offer is an important key to turning out well prepared students. Being able to pause when needed to catch up with note taking, and being able to go back to help understanding are fantastic tools to offer to students across all levels, but especially to provide an equitable space for special ed learners.

— Jenny Hryhorenko

(photo courtesy LinkedIn)

Teaching is her passion

My name is Melissa Orr and my daughters (Arya & Teagan) go to State Rd Elementary. I want to Nominate Mrs. Smith (kindergarten teacher).

This is my second year with Mrs. Smith. My oldest daughter also had her and that was the year that I really got to know her and her love and passion for ALL of her students.

When my oldest started kindergarten, she was very shy and just wanted to be in her own bubble. Mrs. Smith quickly got down to her level and showed her how much fun it was to make friends and explore a whole new world. Now this year my youngest daughter has her and I was over the moon excited when she called me to tell me that she had her in her class! This year brought so many obstacles and challenges and I just wanted one thing familiar for her.

I don’t even know where to begin with her. Mrs. Smith has such an outgoing, fun, loving personality and she clicks and bonds with every single student that walks through her door. The way that the students look at her and she looks right back at them is enough to melt your heart. She connects with each student in her own way and makes her students feel like they are the most special in her class.

To this day my daughters come home from school to show me what they made Mrs. Smith! They talk about her all the time. Sometimes I think they think she is their playmate and not their teacher!!! Her way of teaching these little minds and getting down to their levels is absolutely magical. She takes pride in everything she does. She never gives up, never gets frustrated and most of all is always looking for the fun in everything she does and teaches. To hear my kids come home from school to say to us, look what Mrs. Smith taught me, or showed me, made me and my husband the proudest parents we could ever be.

Without Mrs. Smith none of this could be possible. Watching our daughters grow has been one of the best blessings we could ever ask for. This is why in the Orr household, we love and cherish Mrs. Smith!

— Melissa Orr

Jamie Palmer and friend

A great education is a team effort

We have a whole team to nominate and they are all a very important piece to our puzzle!

My daughter remained remote through out this school year and her whole team was absolutely amazing at working to keep the kids engaged and learning! Her team has worked so well with her that she has grown so much academically this year!

We wouldn’t be where we are without her teachers Erika Bellenger, Deena Fairchild, Marissa Echevarria, Jennifer Scalzo, Rachel Dolan, Lisa Freida, Megan Vos, Ms. Palmer and Mrs. Rosenberry. My child really grew to love reading this year and she absolutely beamed when it was time for Ms. Palmer’s March Madness and then the read-alongs. She was even excited when Mrs. Rosenberry would make an appearance on the screen as well!

We are so blessed to have such amazing teachers, therapists and librarians in our district!

— Kelly Clancy

Prepping young minds for kindergarten

I want to give a shout out to Joanna Sero, the UPK teacher at Klem North. She has worked so hard to make this year as normal as possible, and her efforts have definitely been appreciated. She provided regular communication about what’s happening in class, and posted pictures on Seesaw daily, showing us all the awesome things our son was doing with his new friends. She is so loving and supportive, and we really saw growth in our son this year. He is definitely ready for kindergarten, and she has spoiled us for all upcoming teachers.  

— Sandi Brindisi Johnville

Like an extension of the family

Amanda Plato

I wanted to give a huge thank you to Ms. Brayley and Miss Plato at Plank North for making this year so exceptional for our girls.

Miss Plato was the third teacher to step into this second grade classroom. She is and has been so extremely patient, loving, and kind. As a parent who truly values a child’s emotional well being (especially with the year we’ve had), she has brought so much joy into our daughter’s life. Thank you, Miss Plato!

Ms. Brayley provided a classroom environment that felt like a family. Ms. Brayley provided structure, routine, and a sense of normalcy. We are so thankful Ms. Brayley is available to listen (often times during recess) and have conversations with our daughter about life and activities outside of school. Thank you, Ms. Brayley!

We feel so fortunate to have had to amazing teachers for our daughters this year!

-Anonymous

Substitutes are great teachers, too

Julia had Jaime McKnight as her long-term sub for the first part of the year (at Klem North) while her current teacher, Kelly Wojciechowski was out on maternity leave. Both teachers have been absolutely wonderful both in the classroom and communicating with parents on the outside.

— Linda Meyers

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Kindness, delivered

18 Jun

Two examples this morning about how Webster kindness spreads throughout our community — and our world.

Yesterday, Schlegel Rd. Elementary School students received a special delivery from the Webster Thomas CARE Club: 228 brightly decorated, laminated bookmarks. Schlegel librarian Jamie Palmer will distribute the bookmarks to students at the beginning of next school year.

Some of the 228 bookmarks created by the Webster Thomas CARE Club

The hand-colored bookmarks were delivered to Schlegel by CARE Club representatives Ayah Silmi and Delaney McDonald, accompanied by club advisors Craig Johnville and Denise Warren. Delaney, a junior, is the club’s co-president and Ayah, a sophomore, is club secretary.

The Webster Thomas CARE Club is a group of about 15 Thomas students dedicated to spreading kindness and making our community better through community service projects. They do two or three projects a year, especially focusing on helping out those schools whose students feed into Thomas.

Other recent club projects have included assembling paint kits and Virtual Bingo supplies for Klem North Elementary, and making cards of encouragement for students at Willink Middle School. Check out the club’s Twitter page to learn more about the great things the Webster Thomas CARE Club is accomplishing.


Thanks to a donation from Dancing With Denise students and families, several mini-wheelchairs are on their way to Algeria (yes, that’s Africa), courtesy Webster-based Bella’s Bumbas.

The students presented the donation — more than $1,000 — to Bella’s Bumbas owners Rebecca Orr and Marty Parzynski at the school’s annual recital held on June 5. The donation covered the cost of building several of the pint-sized Bumbas wheelchairs to benefit children with mobility issues.

And now that kindness is touching young lives in Algeria.

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Webster community mailbag

16 Jun

A few of the items in today’s mailbag are reminders about events happening this weekend. But first, a note that the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market is officially open for business for the summer.

This early in the season, you’ll mostly find specialty items like syrups and honey, flowers and crafts. There were a couple of fresh produce stalls last weekend — opening weekend — with some beautiful strawberries. But the number of vendors and selection will expand every week, so make sure to check back regularly. And there was a food truck as well, which organizers have said will be a regular feature.

The market is located in Webster Towne Center plaza, in front of Old Navy and near the gazebo. It’s open every Saturday through November from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


St. Martin Lutheran Church, 813 Bay Rd., will hold a huge garage sale this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday (June 17-19). Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. All proceeds will benefit the church’s local missions and neighbors in need.

The Webster Thomas Players will present their spring musical, Cabaret live and in person this year at the Penfield Amphitheater, 3100 Atlantic Ave., in three shows June 17 to 19.

The production will be PG-13, but the subject matter is most appropriate for mature audiences, addressing issues around anti-Semitism and political fanaticism. Audiences will recognize many legendary musical numbers including “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Maybe this Time,” “Money,” and of course, “Cabaret.”

Cabaret will be presented in three shows:

● Thursday, June 17, 7:30 p.m.
● Friday, June 18, 7:30 p.m.
● Saturday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.

The rain date for all shows will be Sunday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Reserved seating tickets are available for $12 in advance, and can be purchased online here. On the day of the show, reserve tickets will be $15 (if available). General admission “bring your own” lawn chair ($10) or blanket ($25) options are also available. You can see more details about these options on the website (websterthomasplayers.com).


It’s Sidewalk Sale Weekend in the Village of Webster.

Five village shops will be setting up some tables outside their stores this Friday and Saturday and offering some great bargains both outside and in.

At Yesterday’s Muse Books for example, all items outside will be 50% off, and inside everything is buy two get one free. The Village Quilt Shoppe will have lots of fabric, patterns and kits for 40% off. You’ll also find some great deals at Nest Things, The North Bee and Lala of Webster.

So take a stroll downtown this Friday and Saturday and meet some of our very friendly small business owners.


Webster doesn’t have an Independence Day parade, but you don’t have to go very far to enjoy one.

Penfield’s Independence Day Parade will be held Saturday July 3, beginning at 10 a.m. It steps off at Penfield High School, proceeds south on Five Mile Line Road to Route 441, east on Route 441 to Baird Rd., and north on Baird Rd. to end at the Penfield Community Center.

The town is dedicating the parade to all the people who helped the town’s resisdents make it through a very difficult 2020, and who may still be helping them cope. Help came in many forms during the pandemic: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, financial and more.

Penfield residents who wish to contribute a name, or names, to the banner may submit them on the Town of Penfield website at www.penfield.org. Names may also be submitted via phone at (585) 340-8655, option 0. The audience at Penfield’s Independence Day will also have the opportunity to add their heroes’ names to the banner as it is walked through the parade.

The banner will be displayed in a prominent location after the Independence Day festivities, so the heroes can be recognized beyond the holiday.


Here’s this month’s Webster Museum History Bit:

Now and Then: Webster Baseball

Today’s baseball in Webster differs from the early days in so many ways.

Ball fields are all over town now. There are school fields and town fields and park field and fields owned by philanthropic organizations and pick-up games in empty spaces. There are many varieties of bats, balls, mitts, caps, helmets, uniforms and protective equipment, many of them tossed on grassy fields while players wait their turns.

Nineteenth century Webster baseball teams were loosely organized, equipped with one homemade bat and one hard rubber ball (that’s it!) and used the underhand swift pitch. Games were played on borrowed private property for at least ten years before the first organized high school game was played in 1888. Since then, Webster has fielded many excellent school teams and a number of players who went on to careers in professional baseball.

In the 1890s local businessmen organized teams and rented land now bounded by Lapham Park, Park Ave., Dunning Ave. and Elm Street. They fenced it and added a grandstand and ticket office. Uniformed and equipped, the teams from the town and from Nine Mile Point played teams from Rochester, Brockport, Parma and Penfield.

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The Class of 2021 celebrated brilliantly

18 May

Pandemic shmandemic. The Webster Schroeder PTSA, Webster Thomas PTSA, and WTA are bound and determined to make this year’s senior class feel extra special. Saturday night they found a brilliant way to do that.

It was called the Senior Luminary Walk, held at the Webster Recreation Center. Seniors and their family members were invited to stroll along the one-mile long Chiyoda Trail behind the Rec Center, which volunteers had lined with white luminary bags, each one inscribed with a senior’s name and school. There were about 700 bags in total, one for each Schroeder, Thomas and GOAL senior, placed about six feet apart so they stretched the entire length of the trail.

The event began at 7:30 p.m., well before sunset, and the scene was prety impressive then. But after dark, the illuminated bags and twinky light strings lining the trail were especially spectacular.

For the entire 90-minute event, hundreds upon hundreds of students, parents, siblings, and grandparents streamed in, filling the Rec Center’s parking lot, even overflowing into the Xerox lot across the street. They strolled along the paved trail, pausing for photos when they came to their name. At the end, each senior was handed a lawn sign to display at their home — prompting even more proud-parent photos.

Almost 20 Schroeder and Thomas teachers were posted along the trail to act as guides and cheer for the seniors as they walked past.

I heard some very touching comments from parents and students alike as they walked along the trail. Moments like these have been few and far between in the last few years, so even something as simple as a paper bag with a little electric candle inside clearly meant a lot. There were lots of photos, lots of hugs, and lots of smiles.

It was a simple, yet meaningful way to celebrate each student in the class of 2021.

A thousand thanks to Schroeder PTSA chair Stacie Peters, Thomas PTSA chairs Denise Warren and Bridget Ziskind and their army of hard-working volunteers who filled all the bags and set them up in just a matter of three or four hours Saturday afternoon. Rest assured, your efforts were greatly appreciated by all.

Here’s a slideshow of some photos from the evening:

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Willkommen and bienvenue to the (outdoor) Cabaret!

13 May

All around us we can see that life is finally returning to normal, albeit slowly. The latest — and greatest — indication of that is .. LIVE THEATER IS BACK!

The Webster Thomas Players will present their spring musical, Cabaret live and in person this year at the Penfield Amphitheater, 3100 Atlantic Ave., in three shows June 17 to 19.

The decision to hold the performance at the amphitheater was made several months ago, very early in the planning stages. It was a brilliant choice. Not only does the venue offer plenty of space for social distancing, but will make for a unique theater experience for cast members and audience members alike. In deference to Covid, the cast and orchestra will be smaller than in normal years. But thanks to the vaccine, the cast will be able to perform without masks.

You’re probably familiar with the story of Cabaret.

Set in 1929 to 1930 Berlin as the Nazis are gaining power, the musical focuses on the hedonistic nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around a relationship between American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Cole Weisensel) and English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Isabelle Nitsch). A sub-plot involves the doomed romance between German boarding house owner Fräulein Schneider (Brynn Smith) and her elderly suitor Herr Schultz (Jake Groff), a Jewish fruit vendor. Overseeing the action is the Kit Kat Klub’s Emcee (Tessa DeGrace), and the club itself serves as a metaphor for the ominous political developments in Germany at the time.

The production will be PG-13, but the subject matter is most appropriate for mature audiences, addressing issues around anti-Semitism and political fanaticism. Audiences will recognize many legendary musical numbers including “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Maybe this Time,” “Money,” and of course, “Cabaret.”

Cabaret will be presented in three shows:

● Thursday, June 17, 7:30 p.m.
● Friday, June 18, 7:30 p.m.
● Saturday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.

The rain date for all shows will be Sunday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Reserved seating tickets are available for $12 in advance, and can be purchased online here (websterthomasplayers.com). On the day of the show, reserve tickets will be $15 (if available). General admission “bring your own” lawn chair ($10) or blanket ($25) options are also available. You can see more details about these options on the website.

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Help this school year end on a high note: Adopt a Senior!

23 Apr

This awful pandemic has affected all of our students — young and old, elementary, middle and high school. But arguably those who have been most affected are our current seniors, the class of 2021. They’ve lost out on so many of their rites of passage, starting last year with their junior prom.

To help soften the blow and to show how proud we are of these young people, the Webster Central PTSA has organized an Adopt-a-Senior program. The idea is to “adopt” a senior from Webster Thomas or Schroeder high school, and surprise him or her with a care package or some other memorable gift. There really are no guidelines, no minimum or maximums and no mandatory purchase items. It’s all about having fun and bringing a smile to a senior’s face.

Since the program was launched last week, most seniors have been adopted. But as of yesterday there were still 77 at Schroeder, eight at Thomas, and four GOAL students still needing adoption.

Signing up is easy. Just click this link, which will bring you to a form where you can choose your student. Once you’ve signed up, the organizers will send a waiver form, followed by an email with information regarding your adopted senior(s). You can contact the parents if you’d like additional information about the student.

Then, just put together your surprise and deliver it to the senior.

If you have any questions about the program email websteradoptasenior21@gmail.com.

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A colorful way to celebrate our seniors

27 Mar

Our Webster Thomas and Webster Schroeder seniors this week were given a colorful surprise this week. Each one received a bag of Skittles with a note attached reading, “Hey Senior! There is a rainbow of possibilities in your future! Shine on!”

The recognition is part of an ongoing program designed by the Schroeder and Thomas PTSAs. Once a month through June, the PTSAs are surprising each senior with a fun gift or special event, planned for on or around the 21st of each month (in honor of 2021). The idea, wrote Webster Thomas PTSA representative Denise Warren, is “to show students that they are cared about so very much!”

Every 2021 graduate at Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, whether remote, hybrid, GOAL or other, is included. The program began in January, when each senior was presented with a small baggie of Hershey’s kisses, complete with an inspsirational message. You can read more about that special delivery in my blog here.

Judging from these photos from Ms. Castro’s and Mr. Hardy’s classes at Thomas, the effort was very well received.

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Seniors welcomed back to school in a “bright” way

22 Feb

Our Webster Schroeder and Webster Thomas high school seniors got a nice surprise this morning when they entered their buildings and saw each one of their names posted on the wall, near banners celebrating their bright futures.

The banners were created by Webster Thomas art teacher Todd Stahl, and hung by parent volunteers near the entrances of both schools. The students’ names were written individually on small squares of paper, along with the school’s logo, and plastered together into huge displays welcoming the seniors back to school after the February break.

Thanks to Stacie Peters for all these photos!

“We wanted to surprise the kids when they (got) back to school on Monday,” wrote Schroeder PTSA chair Stacie Peters. “We are hopeful this will be super exciting for all of them to see once they return, pretty cool to see all the names together!”

She added, “We are super thankful to Mr. Benz, Mr. Widor, and Mrs. Saiff for all their help and support in all that we are doing for the Class of 2021. We cannot thank Todd Stahl enough for his time in creating such a fun and unique banner for each school.”

Special thanks also to Webster Thomas teaching assistant Tara Nielander, who wrote all of the Thomas senior names.

The recognition is part of an ongoing program designed by the Schroeder and Thomas PTSAs. Once a month through June, the PTSAs are surprising each senior with a fun gift or special event, planned for on or around the 21st of each month (in honor of 2021). Every 2021 graduate at Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, whether remote, hybrid, GOAL or other, is included. The program began in January, when each senior was presented with a small baggie of Hershey’s kisses, complete with an inspsirational message. You can read more about that special delivery in my blog here.

Pandemic or not, the show must go on

28 Jan

When you’re in theater and a global pandemic keeps you from packing an auditorium with people who want to see your show, what’s a director to do? Create a show which people don’t actually have to be able to SEE.

That’s exactly what the students at Webster Thomas have done with their production of The Webster Thomas Radio Hour.

As the name implies, the show — which actually runs about two hours — is modeled after a 1940s-era radio show, complete with serials, commercials and a musical guest.

The main program is a collection five short plays, all written and performed by students. They begin with a crime drama (The Case of the Missing Mallets), followed by some science fiction (The Adventures of the Time-Traveling Athenians and The Return of Professor Z to the Planet of the Beyond), a murder mystery (Terror Train) and a ghost story (Francis Fisher — Ghost Hunter). Tucked in between the features are several very creative commercials and short subjects. And, in keeping with the old-time radio variety show format, all of the sound effects and musical cues are performed live.

Even though the the play couldn’t be presented in front of a packed auditorium, director Mark Stoetzel has tried to give his young actors as much of a normal school play experience as possible. It is being presented on the Thomas stage, for example. But all of the actors will wear masks and maintain social distancing as they act out their lines, something that isn’t possible with a traditional production.

Stoetzel wrote,

Our students, especially the seniors, really do miss the regular performances with all that entails (tech week, set building days on weekends, creative concession tables, cast parties, much longer rehearsals, etc.). These things were stressful, but in a good way. Naturally, we cannot do most of these things, but we can recreate some of the trappings.

We’ll put a display in the trophy case outside the auditorium like always, with cast head-shots and bios. We’ve put the show’s poster on the kids’ lockers (thanks to Denise Warren, Tanya Yost, and Brian Phares for that – everyone is pitching in!). And we’ve scheduled the recording sessions at night like a regular show, and have allowed each student to invite their immediate families (spread out throughout the whole auditorium). There won’t be a cast party, but they’ll still keep certain traditions alive, like paper-plate awards.

The ensemble held their final rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon. I was pleased to be invited, mostly because I was a little unsure about how this radio-play-on-a-stage would work.

Basically, the Thomas stage became the “recording studio.” Actors’ chairs, microphones and script stands were scattered around the stage, with a table in back filled with sound effects materials for two Foley artists. Signs announcing each feature were stacked in front of the stage for the benefit of the studio audience. And of course, one dedicated cue-card holder stood at the ready to let audience members know when to laugh, applaud, boo or gasp!

Jenna Dow and Brynn Smith perform as Alex Ramirez instructs the audience.

I enjoyed the production tremendously. Each of the features was very well written and very funny. The actors actually acted out their roles as they read their lines, and they were all quite good. There were some humorous references to Rochester and the commercials poked fun at several of the students’ beloved teachers. And the poor musical guest … well, you just have to see the show yourself to see what happens to her.

And you will be able to see the show. After presenting the play to very small, invitation-only audiences Thursday and Friday, it will be posted on YouTube and other media platforms. I’ll let you know the details as soon as I know them, but in the meantime, you can stay up to date by following the cast on Twitter at @wthsfallplay.

It’s a very family-friendly production, by the way, so everyone will enjoy it.

Director Mark Stoetzel, right, gives some final instructions to his cast before a performance.

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Holiday music coming to you, courtesy Webster Library and WTHS

3 Dec

We can’t go to the schools to enjoy holiday concerts this year, but no worries. Next week, the Webster Thomas High School Select Choir is bringing the concert to us!

On Thursday Dec. 10, the Webster Thomas Select Choir will present a holiday concert via Facebook Live from 3:30 to 4 p.m. The event is hosted by the Webster Public Library and can be found via their Facebook page.

These kids’ beautiful voices will just blow you away. It’s a perfect way to kick-start your holiday season.

You do not have to have a Facebook account to see this concert, so put it on your calendar now and log in next Thursday. Questions? Email the Webster Public Library at webster.reference@libraryweb.org.

And while you’re on the library’s Facebook page, poke around a bit for information about some other fun activities the library has coming up.

Like their Gingerbread House Contest, for example. Starting Dec. 7, you can vote for your favorite, and help crown the Best Gingerbread House in Webster.

And the Virtual I Spy Game, which is designed for kids of all ages. On Monday Dec. 14 from 4 to 4:30 p.m., a series of I Spy challenges will have your kids racing throughout the house to find an object that matches the game’s description. Participants will also enjoy some I Spy puzzles. Click here to register for this online event.

Finally, just for fun, check out this video of library staff members showing their silly side:

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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