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Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Joe Scanlan plans to retire from Notre Dame at end of the school year

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Le Roy, Notre Dame, schools

Dr. Joe Scanlan, a man with the steady, gentle temperament of a parish priest, is stepping away from a job he loves in a few months.

Appropriately enough, for the past 11 years, Scanlan has been principal of Notre Dame High School, the private Catholic school on Union Street in Batavia.

"It takes a lot of energy to do this job," Scanlan said. "I pretty much do everything here except business. And you wouldn't want me to be the business manager. Tommy Rapone does a nice job. In addition to being principal, you're talking admissions, recruitment, pubic relations, newsletter and all the rest of the stuff. It's time to give somebody else a chance."

Scanlan's tenure at Notre Dame caps a 47-year career in education, which includes 15 at Byron-Bergen as a history teacher, assistant principal and principal, and 11 years as principal at York Central School.

Scanlan has found it particularly rewarding to shepherd area teens through their preparatory education at his own alma mater.

"I love it here, especially the kids," Scanlan said. "It's a great group of kids here. There's great kids in every school, so it's not just Notre Dame, but the students here are special group. They're pretty gritty. They're competitive, but they're respectful."

There are 170 students in grades 9-12 at Notre Dame. When the seniors graduate this spring, it will be Scanlan's final graduation with the school, it will also be the 50th anniversary year of his own class's graduation.

It's tradition for classes to be invited back for the graduation ceremony on their 50th anniversary, so Scanlan is hoping he'll see a lot of his former classmates.

Scanlan said the school board already has a number of qualified candidates who have expressed interest in the job.

There is also a $5 million capital campaign under way at the school, so the next principal will have plenty to do from the first day on the job.

As for Scanlan's own plans he says, "right now the plan is to have no plan."

He has a son and granddaughter living in Cleveland and more time to travel will mean more time with his family.

He plans to continue living in Le Roy.

Friday, February 27, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Ninth-grader with BHS attending National Young Leaders Conference

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, education, schools

Press release:

Jay Lewis might be only 14 years old but he is full of ambition and has many aspirations. Jay, a ninth-grader who attends Batavia High School, was recently selected to attend the National Young Leaders State Conference. This conference will take place in Boston in April.

During this four-day conference, Jay will come together with students from schools located all throughout the Northeastern United States. These students will focus on a curriculum that is specially designed to develop essential leadership, communication, networking, decision-making, conflict resolution and critical thinking skills.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and I hope to learn how work with people in order to become a better leader. These are skills that you need throughout your whole life,” Jay explained.

Eric R. Knapp, an eighth-grade school counselor at Batavia Middle School, nominated Jay.

“Jay is a young person with exceptional character and values,” Knapp said. "During his years at the Middle School he was polite, respectful and was a fantastic role model for other students. He had a quiet demeanor about him yet, according to his teachers, in the classroom, he showed great enthusiasm for education and consistently showed outstanding effort. In addition to his exceptional character and leadership potential, his overall average his eighth-grade year was 96.296 percent."

As a freshman, Jay has earned 11 college credits through the Genesee Community College Math Science Preparation Program. He plans to attend college to earn a degree as an electrical or mechanical engineer and hopes to someday own his own business. Jay has many interests in and outside of school. He serves on the Genesee County Youth Court. He’s a member of the Ski Club, Batavia Middle School Modified Tennis Team, is an avid fisherman and hunter and a Greenwing Member of Ducks Unlimited.

Jay lives in Batavia with his parents, Jennifer and Jim Lewis.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Pictures: Community art displays from Jackson School students

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Jackson School, schools

Ella, Mrs. Shuknecht’s First Grade
My Snowman
My snowman’s name is Krystal. She is fancy and happy.  She likes to wear bows and a hat. Her favorite food is ice cream cake. When it is cold outside she likes to have snowball fights and go snowboarding. 

Parris, Mrs. Bigsby’s First Grade
My Grandma’s House
I went to my grandma’s house. It was a special place. First, I ate dinner with my grandpa and grandma. It was good. I had turkey and mashed potatoes with them. Next, I played at the park with my friend, Emma. We played on the monkey bars. Last, I went to feed the ducks. I fed them bread.  I had a great time at my grandma’s. I hope I can visit them again soon. 

Martha, Mrs. Bigsby’s First Grade
My Papa’s House
I went to my papa’s house and it was a special place. First, I ate dinner with my papa and my grandma. It was delicious. Next, we watched the Croods. It was a funny movie. Last, they took me to the park. I went on the swings. I had fun at the park. I had a great time at my papa’s house. I hope I can visit him again soon. 

Jay’lee, Mrs. Mattice’s Kindergarten
Penguins
Penguins can swim. 
Penguins have blubber. 
They have claws. 
They have beaks. 

Trey, Mrs. Wolff’s Kindergarten
Seasons
My favorite season is summer because I play baseball with my brother, mom and my dad.

Brandon, Mrs. Colvin’s First Grade
How to Build a Snowman
To make a snowman I would first roll three snowballs. One big, one medium and one small. Then, I would stack them. The biggest on the bottom, then the medium and finally the smallest on the top.  I would decorate. My arms would be sticks. My nose would be a carrot. My eyes would be coal.  My mouth would be rocks. I would do a scarf with a zigzag design. I would name my snowman Snowy and give him a hug. 

More after the jump:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 8:57 am

GCC professor shares his father's own 'Unbroken' story as Japanese POW

post by Howard B. Owens in education, GCC, schools

Press release:

Although the film "Unbroken" was not nominated for Best Picture for this year's Academy Awards Ceremony scheduled on Feb. 22, the story of an American soldier surviving a World War II Japanese prisoner of war camp resonated with Edward Grabowski. He teaches Introduction to Criminal Justice to students at Genesee Community College.

The Hollywood film captures the extraordinary life and survival of bombardier and world-class runner Louis Zamperini. Like "Louie," Grabowski's father survived the horrors of a Japanese POW camp, and experienced his own hellish encounters with some of the guards. They included the notorious Mutsuhiro Watanabe, the brutal guard known as "The Bird" who tortured and killed many prisoners.

When Grabowski happened to mention this coincidence to his students, they wanted to know more. And when he told them he had a photograph of his father standing behind two Japanese guards, one likely "The Bird" -- his students wanted to see it.

"They found it interesting so I brought in some of the historic materials about my father to share," Grabowski said.

The photograph taken by a French photographer shows Leo Grabowski standing in a doorway unnoticed by the two prison guards who are in the foreground holding their rifles.

"I am 99 percent sure that the guard standing is Watanabe," Grabowski stated. "My father said he would have been brutally beaten by those guards if they had known he was in the photograph."

Sergeant Leo J. Grabowski served in the Army from 1932 through 1945, and was one of the defenders of Bataan and Corregidor as part of the 31st Infantry at Fort Santiago in Manila.

Captured by the Japanese, Grabowski survived the 60-mile Bataan Death March through the Philippine jungles to Camp O'Donnell. From there he was among the thousands transferred in overloaded freight cars, and he was eventually shipped to Mitsushima, a prisoner of war camp northwest of Tokyo where prisoners provided slave labor to construct the Hiraoka Dam.

Like Zamperini in "Unbroken," Grabowski senior made it home bearing the scars of a POW, but he put together a meaningful post-war life with a career and family, including three children. His youngest son, Edward, spent 27 years teaching Criminal Justice at BOCES, and is now adjunct faculty member at GCC.

Upon request, he reflects on his father's military distinctions with quiet pride, sharing a little of that tortured past through books, photos and clippings from decades-old newspapers. In doing so, he is giving his students a sense of world history, not from the Silver Screen or a textbook, but from the connection of family and the bond of father and son.

Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Photo: Solo singers at Batavia Middle School

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, education, music, schools

Jules Hoepting, a student at Oakfield-Alabama, warms up before her graded soloist performance at Batavia Middle School on Saturday.

Vocal soloists from throughout Genesee County converged on the school for a series of performances that could be part of their grade (depending on the school) and used to determine who will be part of an all-county music recital in March.

The program is organized by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.

Sarah Wether, from Batavia, warms up with her instructor David Grillo.

The hallways were filled with students waiting their turn to perform, and parents.

Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Photo: Le Roy hangs anti-Yik Yak posters

post by Howard B. Owens in education, le roy hs, schools, social media, yik yak

School officials in Le Roy have put up these posters in the hallways of the high school.

On Thursday, Principal Tim McArdle sent a message to parents about Yik Yak and said administrators were talking with students about use of the social media network, which is designed for anonymous posts that can only be read by people in the immediate area.

While the apps developers say it was designed for college students, there have been issues nationwide with high school students getting on the app and using it for bullying.

Previously:

Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Photos: Area student musicians evaluated for solo performances at Le Roy HS

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, education, music, schools

Young musicians from throughout Genesee County traveled to Le Roy High School throughout the day Saturday to show off their chops as soloists for area music instructors.

Some schools use the soloist evaluation as part of the students' grades, but the primary purpose is to help select the musicians who will play in the all-county music festival in March (performances at Attica and Batavia middle schools).

The event is organized by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.

Above, Ashley Carli, from Pavilion, practices in the Le Roy gym prior to her solo session.

Katelyn Brown, from Pembroke, plays her solo in the gym prior to her audition.

Dylan Fisher warms up in the bleachers while waiting for his turn to play.

The Le Roy gym served as a rehearsal hall.

Taylor Schofield, from Pavilion, in one of the classrooms where students played their solo for a teacher who evaluated the performance.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Le Roy HS principal alerts parents to Yik Yak use by students

post by Howard B. Owens in education, Le Roy, le roy hs, schools, social media, yik yak

Yik Yak, the controversial social media app that allows users to share messages in complete anonymity to be read by people near their locations, has prompted Le Roy HS administrators to seek parental help in controlling its spread.

Principal Tim McArdle sent a message to all parents today informing them that Yik Yak use has been reported by students and there have been complaints about it already.

"Based on reports by students, individuals in our school community over the last few days have been using this app to bully others and post very degrading comments about students and staff," McArdle wrote in the message. "We have been in contact with other local districts that are experiencing the same situation this week."

The Batavian reported earlier this week that administrators at Batavia HS were aware of the app and monitoring its impact on campus life.

Yik Yak has garnered a good deal of national news coverage because of complaints of bullying and threats by users.

McArdle said administrators addressed students about Yik Yak during lunches today.

"We let them know the negative impacts that social bullying and harassing have on their fellow students," McArdle wrote. "We also encouraged students who may be negatively impacted to come forward and seek help. Students were invited to sign a pledge to delete the app from their phone. In just the first day alone we had a great turnout of students pledging to do this."

The app has been blocked from the school network, but that won't prevent students with mobile devices and their own online access from using the app.

"We now need your help as parents!," the principal wrote. "Please talk about this with your child and discourage their use of this app."

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

Hawley calls for reform reform state aid to school districts

post by Howard B. Owens in education, schools, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he is sponsoring legislation to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Assembly Bill 8720 of 2014 seeks to end the education cuts that took place in 2009 and 2010. Hawley, along with many members of the Assembly Minority Conference, has been outspoken about restoring the GEA for several years. “School districts in New York State deserve to have these cuts restored,” Hawley said. 

“The legislature has had the financial means to restore this education aid for years now, and the apparent surplus this year should go directly to fund our schools. It is unfortunate to see good teachers being laid off and students being placed at a disadvantage because Albany couldn’t balance its budget. These cuts were never intended to be permanent, but the legislature is hesitant to repay them each budget cycle.”

Hawley’s comments come after members of the legislature made clear their plan to reintroduce Assembly Bill 8720 for the current legislative term. The new bill number is not known yet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 7:59 pm

BHS officials monitoring controversial app catching on with students

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, education, schools, yik yak

Yik Yak has come to Batavia High School and administrators are monitoring the social media site with a wary eye.

Already the subject of national news stories because of reports of bullying, bomb threats and juvenile chatter, Yik Yak provides posters with complete anonymity and an audience of proximity and immediacy.

Recent posts have included invitations (yes, more than one) for people to list the biggest slut at the school, accusations of sexual crimes, and insults directed at specific students and teachers.

And according to a couple of posters, if you think that's bullying, then that's your problem.

"Cyberbullying not real," wrote one anonymous poster in all caps. "If you dont (sic) wanna be 'cyberbullied' then delete the app or turn ya phone off."

On the other hand, there are messages that decry the immaturity of high school students on Yik Yak and defend some of those insulted.

A few posts seem to even use the app as intended -- to post what's going on around them or make funny observations.

"30 likes and I'll show up to school tomorrow in a tutu and high heels," wrote one poster. The post received more than 50 likes. No reports on anybody showing up at BHS in a tutu and high heels, however.

Yik Yak is a mobile app, for use on smartphones and tablets. Messages are shared only within a 1.5-mile radius of the location of where the post was created.

The terms of service require users to be older than 17 and news reports say the company founders are concerned about use by high school students and are trying to find ways to block access on school campuses and prevent underage users from signing on.

In news reports, founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, who are given credit in some accounts for being responsive to teenage bullying concerns, admit their efforts to limit usage to adults has proven difficult.

So far, Yik Yak has received more than $60 million in venture capital funding.

Asked about the appearance of Yik Yak on the BHS campus, Principal Scott Wilson responded:

Yes, We are aware of Yik Yak. We are monitoring it and it is blocked from the district network. As with all social media sites, we expect students to be responsible. The advice we give students is to not to respond to negative posts. They should report concerns to a responsible, trusted adult. Parents, counselors, teachers and administrators can help by listening to the concerns, investigate and conduct the necessary follow-up. The anonymity of Yik Yak is a challenge for all of us when kids use it irresponsibly.

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