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Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Byron-Bergen rallys support for bill to make Greek yogurt the state's official snack

post by Howard Owens in agriculture, bergen, business, byron, byron-bergen

Photos by Howard Owens / Story by Sloan Martin, WBTA.

New York has several State symbols: the sugar maple is the state tree and the state gem is a garnet. What it doesn’t have, though, is a state snack and the fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School are doing something about it.

In a fun school assembly Thursday, the students marked their accomplishment of getting a bill to Albany.

With pop hits like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Lorde’s “Royals” reimagined to proclaim the benefits of yogurt, along with funny skits, the auditorium was filled with B-B fourth-graders who’re amped up and extremely knowledgeable about yogurt.

“It’s very healthy for you and it has lots of good vitamins and calcium,” Sadie said.

“We’ve learned that we’ve been producing the most yogurt in New York State, especially in this area,” Grace said.

Learning about its impact on their bodies, the economy and the government, it’s been an interactive and engaging learning experience.

Superintendent Casey Kosiorek says he’s proud of the kids and their teachers for taking what they learn and putting it into action.

“It really lines up with everything Genesee County’s about with dairy farming and additions to our yogurt companies as well,” he said. “It really aligns well. It’ll be memorable for the students, especially after it becomes a law.”

“Absolutely, this is interdisciplinary,” Kosiorek said. “They’ve had to work on their writing, they’ve had to utilize their math, they’ve had to learn about social studies, they’ve had to learn about government. As you can see, they were singing and writing songs, producing films – all the skills that we look for as our young people move up to the junior-senior high school and then college and careers."

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer says it’s government in action.

“They’re living it by writing us letters, by doing these skits today,” Ranzenhofer said. “We’re going to make this become a law.”

The bill to make yogurt the official state snack has been introduced in the Senate and once it passes both houses, it will find itself on the governor’s desk -- all because of the Byron-Bergen fourth-graders.

Mike Davis, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Kevin Williams, Muller Quaker Dairy, and Roger Parkhurst, Alpina Foods.

 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 11:19 am

Byron-Bergen students selected for National Junior Honor Society

Press release:

On March 19, a distinguished group of 23 students from Byron-Bergen Jr. High School was welcomed into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) by its President, Lauren Burke. Ms. Burke addressed the audience with a challenge: Continue to excel in the five qualities that members of National Junior Honor Society must represent – Scholarship, Citizenship, Service, Leadership, and Character. “While the recognition [of being a member of National Junior Honor Society] is great, the true reward is the satisfaction in knowing that you are working to be the best person you can be.”

The induction ceremony featured two guest speakers – English Teacher Diana Walther and Music Teacher Laurence Tallman. 

Mrs. Walther focused on the skills needed to be a successful citizen. She shared stories of witnessing the newest members of NJHS exhibiting those skills. “I see perseverance. Each of you has shown me, at one time or another this year that you finish what you start,” she said. “Your character is transparent through your choices. You do what’s necessary to be successful, and are beginning to realize that there is a distinct difference between the ‘easy path’ and the ‘successful path’ in life. Walking down the more challenging path has led you here.”

Mr. Tallman referenced the recent Byron-Bergen musical production “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” which is based on the writings of acclaimed author and philosopher, Robert Fulghum. He reminded the audience that some areas of wisdom, often learned at a young age, play a vital role throughout a lifetime. “We must be reminded of them from time to time, because these are the things that remind us to live not just for the self, but for the better of the whole. They remind us to practice civility, good character, kindness, and love. And, like anything, they must be practiced daily in order to become a regular part of your life.”

The National Junior Honor Society Vice President, Margaret Graney, concluded the ceremony by reading descriptions of the five defining qualities of NJHS members and lighting a candle to signify the importance of each quality in our lives. 

Congratulations to National Junior Honor Society 2014 Inductees.

7th Grade
Sarah Bleiler
Kolbi Brew
Lydia Campbell
Adam Drake
Mariah Fee
Jared Fregoe
Leah Gale
Emma Goodman
Annaliese Hersom
William Johnson
Oliver Kelley
Rayelle Merrell
MacKenzie Rosse
Brianna Shade
Emma Smith
Wade Thompson

8th Grade
Cameron Brumsted
Benjamin Chaback
Brionna DeMichel
Justin Hannan
Brendon Kendall
Adam Swapceinski
Esther Wilkins

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 11:11 am

Byron-Bergen sophomores selected for leadership program

post by Howard Owens in bergen, byron, byron-bergen

Press release:

Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminars have been held yearly throughout the United States and Canada since 1958. The purpose of HOBY is to provide sophomores the opportunity to meet many distinguished leaders of the community from various sectors such as business, technology, education, government, arts, and science. Through intense but informal panel discussions, HOBY participants get a realistic look at their nation, its people, and their own role in the world community.

Every year, all sophomores are eligible and encouraged to apply for this exceptional leadership seminar. This year, Ashley Montgomery, daughter of Becky and Marc Montgomery, was selected as the Byron-Bergen High School “HOBY Ambassador,” with Colby Savage, son of Julie and Donald Savage, selected as alternate. Ashley, Colby, and sophomores around the country are selected based on a variety of criteria such as leadership ability, sensitivity to others, communication skills, community service, etc.  Ashley will attend this seminar held at the University of Rochester from May 30 through June 1. Check www.hoby.org for more information.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:44 am

Byron-Bergen students back bill to make yogurt the official snack of NYS

post by Howard Owens in bergen, business, byron, byron-bergen, education, schools

Press release:

Fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School are on track to making a substantial economic impact on their state and their community. The class has created a well-researched rationale for designating yogurt as the Official New York State Snack, based on job creation and promoting healthy eating.

They sent handwritten letters – over 200 of them – to state legislators, farm owners, and yogurt companies. Their idea is now a bill sponsored by New York State Senators Mike Ranzenhofer, Kathleen Marchione, and James Seward and by Assemblymen William Magee and Steve Hawley. The bill is currently in committee.

The 17 members of the “Snack Pack,” led by fourth-grade teacher Craig Schroth, say yogurt deserves the title of Official New York State Snack. Student Madelyn Pimm says, “New York is now the biggest yogurt producing state in the U.S., with over 30 processing plants. Governor Cuomo refers to us as the ‘Yogurt Capital of the Country.’ We are the fifth largest milk producing state. We have three yogurt companies right here in our own community – Alpina, Müller-Quaker, and O-At-Ka. Many of us have family members who work there.”

“We want to support the yogurt industry and help create more jobs,” says student Alayna Streeter. “If this becomes law, there will be more opportunities for farmers who milk the cows, for drivers who deliver the milk, for people who make it into yogurt and other products, for distributors, and stores – jobs all down the supply chain.”

“Making yogurt the official snack will help New York promote healthy eating,” says student Caleb Calhoun. “Yogurt tastes great and is really good for you.”

These students are all highly knowledgeable and engaged in the legislative process they started. Letters of support from their representatives line the classroom wall. “Our whole class came up with the idea to promote yogurt,” says student Carly Bergeron. “We’re learning about government in action.” The class is hoping that they may be invited to Albany if their bill becomes law. Follow the progress of the bill at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6695-2013.

“We want to get the word out and build backing for our bill. It’s important for everyone to support the yogurt industry because they are also supporting our communities with jobs,” says Alayna.

One yogurt company is already grateful for the assistance being drummed up by the Byron-Bergen students. Chobani plans to send a representative to the school to thank the students in person later this spring.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Byron-Bergen beats Attica in Mock Trials final

post by Howard Owens in bergen, byron, byron-bergen, mock trials

Byron-Bergen won the Mock Trial area final tonight in a match against Attica.

Judge Tom Moran presided.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 10:58 am

Attica and Byron-Bergen advance to finals in mock trial competition

post by Howard Owens in batavia, bergen, byron, byron-bergen, mock trials

Attica and Byron-Bergen won semifinal rounds of the mock trial competition held in Wyoming County Court, in Warsaw, on Monday night.

All four teams were 1-1.  Here's the point totals:

Attica - 120 points
Byron-Bergen – 119 points
Batavia – 113 points
Pembroke - 112 points

The finals are tomorrow, 5 p.m., in the Genesee County Courthouse.

To purchase prints, click here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Photos: DWI drill for the juniors and seniors at Byron-Bergen

post by Howard Owens in bergen, byron, byron-bergen

The junior and senior classes at Byron-Bergen saw today a bit of what it's like at a fatal DWI accident. Their prom is this weekend and officials, like at many local high schools, want to emphasize the message: don't drink and drive.

The Bergen and Byron fire departments participated in the drill along with Coroner Karen Lang, H.E. Turner Funeral Home and Deputy Chris Parker.

The DOA accident victim was played by Sara Donovan. Andrew Magin was the seriously injured victim and the alleged drunken driver was Lucas DeValder.

HS Principal Aaron Johnson

Deputy Chief Doug Van Slyke

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 10:23 am

Byron-Bergen student gets statewide award and scholarship for welding

post by Howard Owens in byron-bergen, educaiton, schools

Photos and information submitted by Michaele White.

Kennedy White, a 17-year-old student at Byron-Bergen, took third place at the NYS Skills USA competition for welding held in Syracuse last week. She received a bronze medal and a $2,000 scholarship to Lincoln to further her welding skills. She is a second-year student in welding at BOCES under instructor Don Shuknecht.

Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 2:00 am

ADRIANNE GONZALEZ IN CONCERT

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Adrianne Gonzalez returns to Genesee County for a solo concert in the Byron-Bergen High School auditorium.  Her music has been featured on TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and In Plain Sight, and she has played with Bonnie Raitt, Tegan and Sara, and Jeff Buckley.  Adrianne also is one of the four musicians who make up the indie-rock group The Rescues.  Tickets are $10 and are available at the door.  Proceeds benefit the Gillam-Grant Community Center.

Event Date and Time

April 13, 2013 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Monday, December 10, 2012 at 10:17 am

Byron-Bergen third-grader founds 'Jr. Angels in Action' -- for kids, by kids

It all started with a little girl with a big heart.

Angelique Heick, the 8-year-old from Bergen who competed as a finalist in the "American Miss" pageant in August, spent a large part of the last year taking money from her monthly allowances and using it to purchase toys for underprivileged children in Genesee County.

She donated 12 toys for each month of the year to Community Action Angels of Genesee County, which is the volunteer arm of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. It's made up of volunteers dedicated to gathering donations for toys, food, clothing, extra money and other necessities for Genesee County residents in need.

But this wasn't enough. When Angelique learned about all that the "Angels" do to support needy kids and families, she was bothered that there was no such volunteer program for kids her age.

"I wanted to know why there was no Community Action Junior Angels," she said, "so I decided to start my own."

Now, with the help of 100 Girl Scouts -- officially dubbed "Jr. Angels" -- their families, Community Action and others, Angelique has achieved this dream.

Angelique -- a third-grader at Byron-Bergen Elementary School, a Girl Scout since age 4 and a member of Troop 42174 -- inspired her Girl Scout Troop with her idea and efforts to collect funding promises from local businesses along with three friends -- Pat, Lisa and Annet.

Troop 42174 Leader Rene Vurraro gathered Girl Scout Troops from Byron-Bergen, Pavilion and Le Roy to help with a community service event in response to Angelique's vision.

When Community Action, in turn, heard about what the Scouts were doing, they decided to partner with them to make this a much bigger, annual event called "Circle of Giving" and to develop a Community Action Jr. Angels program.

The first "Circle of Giving" was held on Saturday at Byron-Bergen High School.  The Jr. Angels were there to collect donations of food, clothing and toys, and to make cards for the recipients.

The goal is to eventually turn this into an opportunity for area Girl Scouts to earn a badge.

Beyond that, Community Action has included this project in a book of statewide initiatives so that people in other areas of New York State can read about it and get similar projects started.

"One 8-year-old's dream could turn into thousands of Girl Scouts doing the same thing," said Pat Standish, founder of Community Action Angels of Genesee County.

Standish gave the Scouts an inspirational talk about her experience with the "Angels" and told them how much people will appreciate what they are doing.

"When I first started (with Community Action Angels)," she said, "I thought kids would want things like bicycles and iPods. But what's important to them is not what you give, but that you show that you care."

She also stressed the importance of team effort when it comes to the "Angels" and similar volunteer initiatives.

"I may have had the idea (as founder)," Standish said, "but I needed the help of volunteers to make it happen. And Angelique had an idea, but she couldn't have done it without help from all of you and your families."

Organizations that sponsored this endeavor include Stahlka Agency, Complete Payroll Processing, the Sallie Mae Fund and First Niagara Bank.

"They gave money so the kids wouldn't have to wait (to get started)," Standish said.

Dee Dee Hintz, Angelique's grandmother and legal guardian, expressed gratitude to Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School Principal Aaron Johnson and Elementary School Principal Brian Meister for handing out fliers for this event.

"I think this is the beginning of something big," Hintz said, noting the number of volunteers involved in the overall project.

"Next year will be even bigger," she said. "(Angelique) already knows what she wants to do next year. She'll carry this on for at least two or three more years."

A final note

"Circle of Giving" is the philosophy of Community Action Angels, which encourages its beneficiaries to "pay it forward."

According to Standish, many of the people helped by the "Angels" over the years have become volunteers.

Special thanks to Angelique's mom, Jennifer Cejka, for sharing background information prior to the event and for providing the inspiration for the article's title.

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