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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Football Preview: Blue Devils hunting more Ws in 2014

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

Coming into his third year as Batavia's head football coach, Brennan Briggs said both he and his players approach the 2014 season with some optimism.

There are seven returning starters on both sides of the ball, QB comes into his junior season as a second-year starter and there should be some other weapons on offense to help put points on the board.

"Overall the kids' attitude is very good," Briggs said. "They're excited coming into this season. They know they can win some ball games."

Joining Mruczek in the backfield will be a "committee" of runners.

"We've got some thunder and we've got some lightning back there," Briggs said.

During the off season, Mruczek has put the time in to make himself better, according to Briggs. He's studied film and schemes and really picked his brain to understand what it takes to run the offense.

"He's really been doing a great job for us. Great attitude, great commitment."

The coach said returning players who also seem ready to step up their game include Devon Koepp, Gunner Rapone and James Cryer.

Several sophomores who were part of the varsity last year are ready to assume bigger roles in 2014.

The Blue Devils are coming off of two consecutive 3-5 seasons.

Overall, the Briggs era continues to move forward as he works to shape the program according to his vision. 

"One of biggest things, coming into a program and kind of making it your own is setting that bar, setting the expectations of where you want it to be, so the kids understand exactly what you want  from them," Briggs said. "I think we're getting to that point where the kids understand what's expected of them every single day. They understand what kind of effort I'm asking from them."

The first game is Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m., at Livonia. The first home game is Sept. 12, 7 p.m., against Wellsville.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 10:38 am

The potential for arrest has dramatically reduced fighting at BHS, school officials say

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

The message seems to be getting through.

Batavia school officials were alarmed at the number of fights at the high school in 2012-13, so after some consideration, they decided to do what people do to curb criminal activity: call the police.

It was a big policy swing away from the traditional approach of schools, which is to handle problems on campus through internal processes such as counseling and suspensions. 

The new policy means students who fight could be arrested, put through the criminal or family court system and potentially see their names in police blotters (last year, The Batavian redacted the names of under-18-year-old students arrested on campus from arrest reports).

The change in policy had an immediate impact.

In 2012-13, 19 fights at BHS. In 2013-14, three.

"The resources we had available weren't changing views, and we needed to do something in order to change the behavior of kids choosing to fight while at school," said Superintendent Chris Daily during a press conference Tuesday. "We took it to the next level and it's worked."

Daily knew the new policy was having an impact when he was walking through a corridor at BHS and overheard a young lady and young man talking.

"He was obviously a little agitated," Daily said. "I heard her say directly, 'if you get in a fight, they're going to arrest you and then you're not going to be around this weekend and then we are done.' "

The other component of the new program is intervention. It takes some effort by teachers and counselors to become aware of potential issues between students, some reliance on students expressing concern about potential problems (more likely with the elevated consequences), but school officials work at the effort because they would like to mediate conflicts before fights erupt. 

"Peer pressure gets a negative rep, but there is positive peer pressure and the kids, they want to take care of each other," said BHS Principal Scott Wilson. "They are now reaching out to the adults in the building and looking for other ways of resolving conflicts."

In the case of Daily's overheard conversation, a counselor got involved and mediated the dispute. It didn't necessarily make the two potential combatants friends, but it did lessen the tension.

"It's been the hardest part of the rollout," Wilson said. "We've had countless remediations to resolve conflicts. Sometimes students agree to disagree, but they do not engage."

Officials hope students learn through the program that there are better ways to solve problems than fighting.

"The kids are learning, 'I can't handle myself this way,' " Daily said.

A pair of police cruisers showing up at the front entrance of the school as the result of fight gets the students' attention. After the first fight last year, Wilson said, the chatter among students wasn't the usual recap of the altercation; rather, students were talking about the arrests.

"The kids who have been through consequences, either through youth court or criminal court, have been our best advertisements to stop this behavior," Daily said.

The old policy kept students in a bubble, isolated from societal consequences of criminal behavior, and helping students learn that whether on campus or off, they are part of a larger community is one positive of the program, said Police Chief Shawn Heubusch.

"(When a student) leaves the school, he shouldn't have to abide by a different set of standards than he does while he's in the school," Heubusch said. "By applying that consistency and that constant communication, you should see that student carry that over into his personal life and into his community."

The words consistency and communication came up a lot during the press conference.

It was communicated clearly to students at the start of the school year that there would be criminal consequences to fighting, and school officials communicated with parents, particularly parents with children involved in conflicts.

There's also an outreach component to the effort. Heubusch doesn't want students to just see his officers as the long arm of the law. He wants them to understand they're available to help.

Det. Richard Schauf has been a regular presence on campus in the mornings, in uniform, greeting students along side Daily and Wilson.

At first, Schauf said, students were wary (quite a contrast to the warm welcome from elementary school students when Schauf goes to Jackson School), but over the course of the year, many students became cordial and talkative.

Greater police involvement on campus, Schauf said, helps create a better learning environment.

"I don't care what age you are, if you don't feel safe, you're not going to learn," Schauf said. "You're not going to learn because you're going to be more concerned about protecting yourself, and we want students to learn."

The motto at the school is "Take Care of BHS" and the program reinforces that motto, Wilson said.

"It helps us deliver that message and building that culture of 'Take Care of BHS', that fighting is something we don't do in this building," he said.

Daily, a former BHS principal himself, said he has seen the new policy have a real positive impact on school culture.

"By using this, it's really helped our school community heal something that was very disruptive," Daily said. "We're hoping going forward, that message continues, and that message gets out and we're going to eliminate this kind of behavior from school. Kids are going to make mistakes and we're going to be there to help them learn, but we just took another resource and used it to help us get a better result."

Photo: Board Member Pat Burk, Wilson and Daily.

Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 11:33 am

Batavia clips Eagles as Scheuerlein tosses no-no

post by Nick Sabato in baseball, batavia, Batavia HS, sports

In baseball, getting strong play from your pitcher is as important as a quarterback in football, and that was evident as Batavia topped Wayne 8-2 in the Class A quarterfinals at Dwyer Stadium.

The sixth-seeded Blue Devils got strong pitching from starter Jake Scheuerlein and reliever Greg Mruczek, while capitalizing on pitching errors from the 14th-seed Eagles.

Scheuerlein pitched four no-hit innings without allowing a run before Mruczek came in to close out the contest.

“Both pitchers threw the ball really well,” said Batavia Head Coach Rick Saunders. “I’m riding both Scheuerlein and Mruczek all the way through sectionals as long as the run goes.”

On the other side, Wayne pitcher Nate Currier struggled with his command all afternoon, as the Blue Devils got their first five runs without recording a hit.

Batavia struck first as Rich Francis scored from third on a sacrifice fly from James Fazio to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Then the floodgates opened in the third.

The third frame saw the Blue Devils score four runs on an error and three passed balls before Ryan Mullen singled (the team’s first hit of the game) in the final run of the inning to take a commanding 6-0 lead.

“Guys had quality at-bats to get on base,” Saunders said. “If they don’t catch the ball behind the plate, that’s a nice way to get a lead. It makes a little more relaxing as a coach. At this point in the tournament, you’ll take them any way you can get them.”

Fazio would score Batavia’s final two runs on a 2-run double in the fifth to go up 8-0.

Batavia would lose their no-hit bid on the first at-bat of the sixth, before finally scoring on an RBI single by Joe Dell’Olio.

Despite giving up two runs on two hits in three innings of work, Mruczek pitched a strong game as he struck out five batters, showing that the Blue Devils have a strong one-two punch on the mound.

“I like it because it puts a lot of pressure on a high school guy to go seven innings,” Saunders said. “Especially this year with the weather being so bad, it’s hard to stretch guys out. This way I can keep them both fresh the whole way, you roll the dice and take a shot.”

The Blue Devils were led by Fazio, who finished 1-for-2 with three RBIs, while Francis and Zeke Lynn added two runs each.

Batavia (13-5) will next face second-seeded Brighton on Tuesday.

Currier pitched five innings, allowing eight runs on four hits, while striking out four batters for Wayne (7-13).

 

Friday, May 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Batavia Kiwanis Club honors top graduates from BHS

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, Batavia Kiwanis Club

The top senior scholars, musicians and citizens from Batavia High School were honored Thursday by the Batavia Kiwanis Club. Here's information provided by the school on each award recepient.

Sydney Loria is the daughter of Nathan and Kathy Loria, of Batavia. Sydney will be attending Colgate University this fall, majoring in Chemistry with hopes of continuing on to medical school in the future. She is the executive teasurer of Student Government and a member of National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Z-Club. She is also the concertmaster of the Orchestra and has participated in JV and varsity volleyball for the past four years. Sydney enjoys volunteering and has spent the past two summers volunteering at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

Alexis Kindig is the daughter of John and Diana Kindig, of Batavia. Alexis received the Presidential Scholarship and is enrolled in the Clinical Health Studies/Physical Therapy program at Ithaca College to obtain her doctorate and become a physical therapist. She is in National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society, as well as Link Crew. She also plays violin in the school orchestra and is a member of Strings Sensations. She was a three-season scholar athlete all four years on the varsity cross-country, indoor track, and track and field teams.

Haley Case is the daughter of Dexter and Brenda Case. In the fall, Haley will be attending Genesee Community College to play volleyball. She will be majoring in Communications Studies with a minor in Political Science. Afterward, Haley will transfer to a four-year school before pursuing a plan to move on to law school. In high school, Haley was treasurer of National Honor Society, a member of National Art Honor Society, a mentor for Link Crew, and a representative for Student Government, including organizing the Mr. Batavia Pageant. Third in the class, Haley was also an eight-time scholar athlete.

Mike DiBacco is the son of Michael and Mary Beth DiBacco. Mike is a recipient of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship and will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in the fall to study Mechanical Engineering. He is an active member of National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Model UN, and is president of Batavia’s Scholastic Bowl team. Mike served as co-mayor of the student body his senior year, and has participated in Student Government for three years. Mike is captain of the varsity swim team and is a two-time state finalist and national qualifier.

Ashlee Yasses is the daughter of Tim and Jill Yasses, of Batavia. Ashlee received the Presidential Scholarship and will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in Engineering.  Ashlee is involved in Student Government and is the school’s Executive Council secretary. She was also very involved in this past year’s Mr. Batavia competition as a cohost for the event. Ashlee has played volleyball all four years of her high school career and was a co-captain for the past two years. Ashlee is also involved in National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Z-Club and Link Crew.

Taylor Sanders is the daughter of Gerald and Lynn Sanders, of Batavia. Taylor will be attending Niagara University on the Trustees Scholarship. She will be majoring in Biology with a pre-medical advisement, along with a Chemistry minor and a possible Dance minor. Taylor hopes to one day be a pediatric doctor. Taylor is the president of the Class of 2014 and is in National Honor Society.  She is also the secretary of National Art Honor Society. Taylor is very involved with her dance studio Images in Dance and has been since she was young.

Courtney Jones is the daughter of Diana Miller and Carl Jones, of Batavia. Courtney received the Presidential Scholarship and the Fr. Dunne Scholarship, and will be attending Niagara University to major in Early Childhood/Childhood Education. She is a member of National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society, where she is public relations coordinator. Courtney is very active in the 4-H Horse Program, and competes in local shows as well as the county fair and state fair. She has volunteered for the Batavia Youth Football and Cheerleading Program and for the Holland Land Office Museum.

Courtney Smith is the daughter of Richard and Lisa Smith, of Batavia. Courtney received the Achievement Scholarship and will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology majoring in Political Science and Journalism. She attended the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, a weeklong event hosted by George Mason University in Washington, D.C., in July 2013.  Courtney is a member of National Honor Society, volunteers at many community service events, participated in varsity soccer, and has worked at Sunny’s Restaurant for nearly three years.

James Fazio is the son of Jim and Nickie Fazio and resides in Batavia. He will be attending the University of Rochester in the fall and will be pursuing degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering. James is both a member of Batavia’s National Honor Society and Link Crew programs and has been a member of the BHS varsity baseball team for two years. He is also an active supporter of youth sports, as he contributes in the form of umpiring and refereeing youth baseball and basketball games.

Jessica Callisher is the daughter of Pamela and Arthur Callisher. Jess has received the Founder’s Scholarship from Syracuse University and will be attending there in the fall to major in Biology with the hopes to continue on to veterinary school. Jess is a scholar athlete for varsity soccer, and plays year-round. She is the secretary for National Honor Society, Student Government representative, treasurer for Stained Glass, volunteer for Mr. Batavia, and also an active member of the prom and dance committees.

Recipient for the 2014 Kiwanis Music Award Recipient for Band is Amanda Schelemanow. Amanda has participated in the concert band, jazz band, and marching band for the past four years. For the past two years, she has been lead trumpet for all ensembles. She also performs lead trumpet in our trumpet ensemble and is a member of our percussion ensemble. Amanda throughout her four years participated in the full orchestra. She is a member of our National Music Honor Society and BHS's National Honor Society. Next year she will be attending SUNY Fredonia where she is pursuing a career in Music Therapy and Psychology. Amanda will be dearly missed next year but I know she will excel next year at Fredonia.

Cassandra Warren is the daughter of Pamela Sivret and Scott DeSmit, of Batavia, and Eric Warren of Springfield, Mass. Cassandra will be attending Genesee Community College in the fall and will be majoring in Health Sciences with the hopes of continuing on to SUNY Brockport. Cassandra served as president of the Genesee Valley BOCES Chapter of the FFA in 2013-2014 school year, and has been active in Chorus since sixth grade. She has participated in Solo Fest all seven years, and was selected for All County Chorus this past March. Cassandra has also participated in both Drama Club and Production Club productions since the eighth grade, and has earned lead roles in her freshman, junior, and senior years. She has also participated in several productions for the Batavia Rotary Club, and Batavia Players. Cassandra also plays bass guitar and performs with area bands at various venues.She plans to join the Theater group at GCC. 

Val Palmer won the Kiwanis Citizenship Award for outstanding community service. Valerie is graduating this year, in just three years, still ranking in the top 15 percent of her graduating class. She is a scholar-athlete on the swimming and volleyball teams and is a member of the National Art Honor Society. Val has volunteered in the community by providing daycare for parents to attend school events and painting murals throughout the city. Her greatest passion has been working for Soup Supper at Sacred Heart Church. It is Val's generous heart and passion for helping others that has been displayed here. Val is passionate about helping others and will continue to do this as she pursues a degree in Elementary and Special Education at Canisius College in the fall.

Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 6:35 am

Batavia baseball bounces back to beat Akron

post by Nick Sabato in baseball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

After winning the first two games of the season, the Batavia baseball squad was handed its first loss of the season in an emphatic fashion, losing to Honeoye Falls-Lima 15-2 on Thursday afternoon.

Twenty-four hours later, the Blue Devils got back on track, beating up on Akron, 15-8.

“I thought it was a good comeback win for us,” said Batavia Head Coach Rick Saunders. “We got lit up pretty good yesterday by a good HF-L team. Today we came out and jumped out on top and got those three runs in the first.”

Batavia opened up the game with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first inning on a bases-clearing hit by Zeke Lynn.

The Tigers would battle back, loading the bases with one out in the second inning.

Akron would score on a fielder’s choice by D.J. Carlson, then on a passed ball, and they then tied it up on a RBI single by Zach Pfentner.

Quinten Weis would settle down after that, pitching two more scoreless innings and allowing just one more hit before Greg Mruczek relieved him.

“He was a little wild to start the game,” Saunders said of Weis. “I thought he settled down the rest of the game and he threw well that last two innings he was in the game.”

The Blue Devils regained the lead in the third after Nick Bauer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Steve Borowczyk appeared to get himself out of the jam, ending the inning with the bases loaded and just one run allowed, but it was not to be.

Batavia exploded for four runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to extend the lead to 8-3.

Luke McComb was walked with the bases loaded, followed by an RBI single from Rich Francis before Bauer drove in two runs with a double to right field.

Akron appeared to make a bit of a comeback in the top of the fifth, getting two runs off of Mruczek (helped by a few defensive miscues), but he settled down to strike out the side in the sixth.

“I thought he threw the ball real well,” Saunders said of Mruczek. “I think our defense let him down a little bit. That happens, these are high school kids. If we played tight defense like we did in the first three games, we probably only would have let up a few runs.”

The Blue Devils' batters went to work in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach as they sent seven runners across home plate, including a two-run single from senior reserve Pat Wrobel.

The Tigers got three runs in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to get close.

“The biggest difference between yesterday and today was that we hit better,” Saunders said. “We got the bases-clearing hit by Lynn and that was clutch for us today.”

Lynn finished the game 2-for-5 with four RBIs, while Bauer went 1-for-4 with four RBIs. As a team, Batavia combined for 14 hits on the game.

Weis picked up the win for the Devils, allowing three runs on three hits in four innings pitched.

Borowczyk took the loss for Akron, allowing eight runs in six innings pitched.

Batavia improves to 3-1 on the season, and next travel to Aquinas on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Friday, April 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Mr. Batavia presents $2,200 check to Habitat for Humanity

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, Habitat for Humanity

Spencer Hubbard, 2014 Mr. Batavia, presented a $2,200 check today to Jess Tomidy, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Genesee County. The Mr. Batavia competition at Batavia High School raises money for the winner's charity of choice. After winning the competition last month, Hubbard said he picked Habitat because, "I feel like it's a basic need, that people need homes. A lot of people are homeless who don't deserve to be. They really need that help."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 9:00 am

BHS students and faculty show off talents in annual show

post by Daniel Crofts in Batavia HS, education, entertainment, music, schools, Talent Show

This is Batavia High School student Ross Chua busting out with his beatboxing talent at the 2014 "Batavia High School Talent Show" last night, which aimed to raise funds for Thomas Ackley, a former student of the Batavia City School District who is fighting cancer (see April 7 article).

Masters of Ceremony Amanda Schelemanow (member, BHS chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society) and Spencer Hubbard (Mr. Batavia 2013) introduced 16 entertaining performances by students and faculty. Here they are (all performances are vocal unless otherwise specified):

Tim Martin and Lauren Dunn, piano/vocal performance of "Little Talks"

Steven O'Brien doing yo-yo tricks (which the event's faculty supervisor, BHS chorus teacher Dan Grillo, called the best he has ever seen in person).

Darneisha Thomas, "Bound to You"

Mason Russ, "Boss of Me" (theme from the TV show "Malcolm in the Middle")

Nephy Williams, "Beautiful"

Kesa Janes, "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" (from "The Phantom of the Opera")

Justin Baiocco, "My My, Hey Hey" (from the Neil Young album Out of the Blue). Baiocco's talent consisted not only of the vocal performance, but also his ability to play the guitar and the harmonica at the same time.

Laura Guiste, "Hallelujah"

Marissa Carbonell, "Oh! Darlin' "

Andrea Gilebarto, "Nightingale" (vocals and piano)

Hannah Bluhm, "If I Die Young"

Dan Grillo, "Good Bye Yellow Brick Road" (piano and vocals)

Rachel Flint and Ashley Williams, "There You'll Be"

McKenna Dziemian, "Set Me Free" (sung in both English and Korean)

And finally, there was the "Faculty Dixieland Band" playing "Down By the Riverside" and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"

Dan Grillo (drums), Stuart McLean (bass)...

Sean Krauss (clarinet), Brandon Ricci (trumpet) and Jane Haggett (piano)

Monday, April 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

Photo: Blue Devils participate in football scrimmage in Rochester

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, football, sports

Batavia Blue Devils Head Coach Brennan Briggs sent along this photo of members of the football team following a 7-on-7 scrimmage last night in Rochester. The team played non-scoring scrimmages against Rush-Henrietta and Churchville-Chili. "The team did a great job competing," Briggs said.

Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Photo: Ugandan Water Walk at Batavia HS

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS

Today, dozens of Batavia High School Z-Club (Zonta) students participated in the Ugandan Water Walk. The walk was a fundraiser to pay for a rainwater collection device at a school in Uganda. James Harrington, the tallest person in the picture, is a Rochester resident and director of the Uganda Water Project. He will travel to Uganda soon to install the water collection device and report back to the BHS students before the end of the school year on its installation. The device will last for 35 years, Harrington. Above, Chelsea Jensen, left, and Marissa Carbonell carry water through the hall of BHS as part of the walk.

Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 1:59 am

Spencer Hubbard wins Mr. Batavia competition at BHS

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, Mr. Batavia

In middle school, Spencer Hubbard was bullied. Today, you can call him Mr. Batavia.

The Batavia High School senior won the title Friday night during its second annual Mr. Batavia competition.

When Hubbard's name was announced as the winner, a packed auditorium of high school students, parents and faculty let out a robust cheer and round of applause.

"It shows how far we've come as people that a gay student can become Mr. Batavia," Hubbard said during his acceptance speech.

Hubbard was tops in a field of 10 in a competition that included lip syncing, a talent contest, a Q&A and a tuxedo walk. Five judges from the community awarded points to the contestants and a committee tallied up the points to pick the winner.

More than $2,200 was raised for the winner's charity. In this case, Hubbard picked Habitat for Humanity.

"I feel like it's a basic need, that people need homes," Hubbard said. "A lot of people are homeless who don't deserve to be. They really need that help."

Hubbard is planning to attend the University of Tampa on a $25,000 scholarship. He will major in journalism.

BHS Principle Scott Williams praised Hubbard as a bright student and talented actor.
As part of the competition, Hubbard performed a self-written satire of a Target clerk that had more funny lines than a Saturday Night Live skit. 

Hubbard said he thinks his acting talent and his self confidence, especially during the swimsuit competition and lip syncing, is what helped sway the judges in his favor.

Last year, Lee Johnson won the contest, in its first year, and Johnson returned Friday night to entertain the crowd while the judges' ballots were tallied. It was a regular stand-up routine, but as he began to run out of material, Williams stepped in to help entertain the crown, including setting up an Ellen-like, Academy Awards selfie.

Competing this year were Adam Weaver, Charlie Williams, Blake Carter, Jake Paine, Tim Martin, Mathew Gabriele, Kenny McMaster, Casey Grice and Michael DiBaccco.

During his acceptance speech, Hubbard praised his fellow competitors and thanked them for being so supportive of each other throughout preparations for the show.

The fact that Johnson is so different from Hubbard, Hubbard said, shows the competition is valuable to the community.

"It shows different people can win," Hubbard said. "Last year Lee won, and he's really different from me. He runs in a different crowd. He was straight and I'm gay, and that was probably a really big thing, too. I said that in my speech as well. It shows how far we've come as people."

A lot has changed for Hubbard, he said, from middle school to his senior year.

"The award means a lot because in middle school I was bullied and now, look how far I can come," Hubbard said. "I think the big thing was I was just myself when I got to high school. I didn't really care what people thought. I didn't try hard to impress people."

Hubbard being congradulated by his fellow contestants.

Mike DiBacco sings Frank Sinatra's, "I've Got the World on a String."

Hubbard performing his sketch, a satire of a clerk from Target.

Sydney Loria, Ashlee Yasses and Haley Case were hostesses for the competition.

Matt Gabriele at the front of the stage during the tux walk.

Lee Johnson, last year's winner.

Principal Scott Williams during an Ellen/Oscar-inspired selfie with the cast and crew of the Mr. Batavia competition.

To purchase prints of these photos and the photos in the slide show, click here.

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