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50 graduates recognized at Lyndonville commencement

Staff Reports Posted 23 June 2018 at 3:41 pm

Photos by Jennifer Merkel of Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES 2

LYNDONVILLE – The new graduates at Lyndonville Central School toss their caps after commencement Friday evening.

Lyndonville celebrated its 78th commencement exercises and honored 50 graduates. The ceremony took place in the Stroyan Auditorium.

Class of 2018 Valedictorian Paige Gardner, left, and Salutatorian Mercedes Benedict led the class in academics.

Angela Wachob and Ariane Wachob lend their voices to the singing of the National Anthem to begin the ceremony.

Salutatorian Mercedes Benedict began her speech expressing thanks to all of the important people in her life.

Christopher Clark II, Miranda Lembcke and Reese Ledford were part of a performance of “Have it All” by Jason Mraz.

Valedictorian Paige Gardner addresses her peers and audience members during the ceremony.

Photos courtesy of Amy Lewis

Darren Wilson of the Lyndonville Area Foundation congratulates Brody Brown for winning the Directors Award and scholarship.

David Cook presents Mariah Grabowski the Trevor T. Cook Memorial Scholarship on behalf of his son who was a decorated Marine sergeant killed in a training accident.

Superintendent Jason Smith congratulates Josephine Joy. Smith also addressed the Class of 2018. “Put your best effort into everything. You can persevere if you put your mind to it. Stay hungry, stay humble.” He shared the story of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built. He used this analogy to reinforce how dreams that seem impossible can become real with drive. Do not be defeated by circumstances, he said. Overcome challenges to achieve success. He gave each graduate a small replica of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The graduates move their tassels to signify the end of their high school careers and start of the next chapter in their lives.

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Robin Hill in Lyndonville hosts Summer Solstice Soiree

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Beth Gee Carpenter of Lyndonville, left, helps Jan Heideman of Medina choose postcards at Carpenter’s booth on the grounds of Robin Hill Estate during the Summer Solstice Soiree Wednesday afternoon, sponsored by the Cobblestone Society.

Posted 21 June 2018 at 9:00 am

Hundreds of rare plants and trees, such as these, line the paths through Robin Hill Estate in Lyndonville, where on Wednesday afternoon the Cobblestone Society Museum held a Summer Solstice Soiree.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

LYNDONVILLE – Picture peaceful grounds, hundreds of rare plants and trees, a sunlit afternoon and soft music coming from the shade and you have the setting for Wednesday’s Summer Solstice Soiree at Robin Hill Estate.

This is the second year for the event, sponsored by the Cobblestone Society, and the first time it was held at Robin Hill Nature Preserve, the 40-acre Lyndonville estate of the late Will Smith.

After a very successful event last year in the gardens of Leroy and Shirley Neeper of Medina, the Cobblestone Society decided to have this year’s garden party at Robin Hill, which proved to be a perfect location with its collection of trees, shrubs and flowers.

Half dozen or so vendors were scattered among the trees, including artists, crafters, photographers and others.

A table in the midst of it all was full of hors d’oeuvres and samplings of wine, while in the shade of nearby trees, Mike Grammatico of Batavia, a former Albion music teacher, played the saxophone.

Beth Gee Carpenter of Lyndonville had a booth with her photographs, artwork, postcards and note pads.

“I’m always looking for new venues to sell my work,” she said. “I come here to take pictures and it’s wonderful to be able to take part in an event like this in my local community.”

Robin Hill was developed by Will Smith, the founder of Lyndonville Canning Company. He and his wife Mary, son George and daughter Marion designed and built the manor house of Medina sandstone. They were enthusiastic bird watchers and mushroom hunters, and Marion banded Monarch butterflies for years.

Will and Mary were traveling in northern Pennsylvania one spring in the 1940s when they saw hillsides full of shad trees in blossom north of Williamsport. Will spotted one tree with pink flowers in the midst of the white ones, climbed the hill and took cuttings of the pink shad.

Mary Zangerle of Medina, with her 8-month-old granddaughter Marian, checks out the yard art at the Summer Solstice Soiree at the Robin Hill Estate.

The first of Robin Hill’s shads are planted to the north and south of the manor house. They thrive in urban environments and can be trimmed to bush size or allowed to grow tall. They are even farmed for their berries in Canada .

Over the years, Smith’s plantings would become famous, such as the Dawn Redwood, the prehistoric ancestor of the Giant Sequoia.

Three such redwoods at Robin Hill are offshoots of a stand of Dawn Redwoods, estimated to be 6,000 years old, which was discovered in Mongolia in early 1930. One of its discoverers was a friend of Smith’s and sent Will a cone with some seeds. Thanks to the fertile conditions of the Lake Plains, three of these redwoods thrive at Robin Hill, along with some contemporary sequoias.

The 80-foot tall Dawn Redwood next to the North Pond on the estate is thought to be the oldest in the Western Hemisphere .

Today, Robin Hill is the home of Doug and Valerie Pratt, son and granddaughter of Larry and Charlotte Smith Pratt.

Other trees and shrubs include linden, a Gingko tree, a Franklinia bush, sycamores, beech, witch hazel, Carolina silverbell, Japanese Umbrella pine, a multi-trunk European larch and Japanese maples.

The grounds are available for weddings, photography and other events – to anyone who loves and respects nature.

With this successful event over, the Cobblestone Society is moving forward with plans for its next fundraiser, the annual Historic Trades Fair on June 30.

Hibiscus bushes bloom on the grounds of Robin Hill Estate in Lyndonville, which was the site of the Cobblestone Society’s second annual Summer Solstice Soiree Wednesday afternoon.

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Retired Teachers’ Association presents grant to Lyndonville teacher

Posted 21 June 2018 at 7:40 am

Provided photo: Georgia Thomas of Medina, left, president of the Orleans County Retired Teachers Association, presented a grant to Aimee Chaffee of Lyndonville Middle School on Wednesday.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

LYNDONVILLE – A Lyndonville Middle School teacher has been rewarded for her dedication to education with a grant from the Central Western Zone of New York State Retired Teachers’ Association.

Aimee Chaffee is the Orleans County winner of a $150 grant from the Central Western Zone.

Orleans County Retired Teachers’ Association president Georgia Thomas of Medina announced Chaffee as the winner at Lyndonville Central School on Wednesday.

Chaffee is AVID coordinator at Lyndonville, Dean of Students, Leo Club Adviser and, in her words, an “AVID” teacher. AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a college readiness program with academic rigor at Lyndonville.

The Barrie Fleegel Memorial Active Educator Grant is named for Fleegel, who began his teaching career as a science teacher in 1955. He moved up to high school principal in 1971 and two years later became superintendent of Marion Schools. Upon retirement, he became a member of the New York State Retired Teachers’ Association and served as president of the Wayne County branch, then president of the Central Western Zone and senior vice president of NYSRTA.

Fleegel recognized that educators who were continuing their education needed recognition and monetary help, and thus the grant was created by the Central Western Zone in his honor.

According to Ann Czajkowski, chair of the CWZ grant program, Chaffee will receive her check when proof is received that she has completed a graduate level course during 2018.

Next year, CWZ educators will be eligible to apply for the New York State Retired Teachers’ grant of $1,000. CWZ educators are eligible for grants every other year, Czajkowski said.

(Editor’s note: This story was updated from an earlier version that said the grant for Chaffee was for $1,000.)

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Lyndonville band plays world premiere of new composition at elementary concert

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 June 2018 at 7:34 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Lyndonville Elementary band teacher John Bailey, front left, is pictured with composer Robert Grice of Florida on Thursday evening before the band’s spring concert.

Grice wrote a new composition – “Industrial Revolution: The Rise of a Nation” – that was performed for the first time by the Lyndonville band.

Bailey last year was the first winner of Lyndonville’s Educator of the Year, which came with a $1,000 award for Bailey to use at his discretion to promote education. He wanted to have a new song written for the band.

He reached out to Grice, who has 140 published works. Grice also worked 30 years as a school band teacher. Click here for more on Grice.

Grice thought about Lyndonville and Western New York, and the region’s role in the Industrial Revolution and the country’s growing economic power about two centuries ago. He wrote parts for the percussionists to sound like factories working. He is hopeful the composition will catch on with more bands.

Whenever it’s performed again, the music should indicate it had its world premiere in Lyndonville, NY.

John Bailey, the Lyndonville band teacher, said he and the students are thrilled to be the first group to play the composition.

“It’s really cool,” he said before the concert. “We get to do a world premiere.”

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Lyndonville vets give 2,300 faded flags a proper disposal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 June 2018 at 10:43 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Steve Goodrich, commander of the Houseman-Tanner American Legion Post 1603, puts faded and torn flags in a pig roaster this evening, when the flags were retired and given a proper disposal at Lynhaven Cemetery.

“I’d rather see a bare flag pole than one with a flag that is ripped or tore up,” Goodrich said.

Three veterans from the American Legion – Joe Hausler, Carl Boyle and Steve Goodrich – burned 2,300 of the American flags. Most of them have been collected the past five years. They are typically the flags the veterans put out just before Memorial Day at about 500 graves for veterans. They usually become faded or ripped by about Veterans’ Day in November.

Goodrich holds a flag he has kept for 23 years. It was flown in South Carolina at the Naval Hospital Beaufort. He was given the flag on his last day of active duty. He served in the Navy for 10 years.

Goodrich said the flag became faded in the center and the seams ripped. He said the flag should have been retired a few years ago but he couldn’t bear to part with it.

“There is a time to let go,” he said. “Now is the time.”

Carl Boyle gives these flags a dignified disposal.

Joe Hausler retires some of the flags, which were “destroyed with honor.”

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David Bellavia, Lyndonville grad, speaks to Top 10 in Class of 2018

Staff Reports Posted 14 June 2018 at 8:16 am

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – David Bellavia, of graduate of the Class of 1994 in Lyndonville, addressed Lyndonville’s Top 10 students during a Lyndonville Lion’s Club meeting on Wednesday. Bellavia is a distinguished veteran, author, and radio show host.

John Riggi, a member of the Lions Club, is at left. The event was at the White Birch Golf Course.

Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran, wrote a book that detailed his experiences as a staff sergeant in the second battle of Fallujah. He wrote House to House with John R. Bruning, describing the efforts of front line forces in urban combat against insurgents. Bellavia was part of a campaign that took the heavily fortified city. He was recognized with a Silver Star.

In 2005, Bellavia was inducted into the New York Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

He has been active in politics, twice running for Congress.

Bellavia now works as a radio talk show host and as an advocate for veterans in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

He grew up in Lyndonville as son of local dentist Bill Bellavia. He performed in the high school musicals, including a lead role of Jack in Lyndonville’s production of Into The Woods.

Lyndonville’s top 10 graduates for 2018 include Mercedes Benedict, Brody Brown, Heaven Flood, Paige Gardner, Mariah Grabowski, Skyler Lear, Miranda Lembcke, Cassie Maynard, Taylor Paniccia and Kennedy Smelski.

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Public welcome to bring worn flags to ceremony Thursday at Lyndonville

Staff Reports Posted 13 June 2018 at 7:55 am

LYNDONVILLE – The Houseman-Tanner Post 1603 in Lyndonville will be holding a flag retirement ceremony Thursday at 6 p.m. at Lynhaven Cemetery, located behind the Presbyterian Church at 107 Main St. The location will be near the cannon next to the flagpole.

Anyone who has a worn or tattered flag is welcome to bring it to the ceremony where we will ensure it receives a dignified disposal, said Steve Goodrich, commander of the Houseman-Tanner Post. Thursday is also Flag Day.

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Lyndonville second-grade teacher honored as ‘Educator of the Year’

Posted 12 June 2018 at 9:38 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Lyndonville Central School Superintendent Jason Smith presents a check for $1,000 to second-grade teacher Shannon Arlington after she was named “Educator of the Year” during a Board of Education meeting Monday night. The money can be used for a school project she chooses. Last year’s Educator of the Year winner John Bailey used his money to purchase a composition for the band, which will premiered at a concert on Thursday.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

LYNDONVILLE – In 2016, the Lyndonville Central School District board of education established an Educator of the Year award to recognize teachers who go above and beyond.

On Monday night during the Board of Education meeting, the award was presented to second-grade teacher Shannon Arlington.

Superintendent Jason Smith said the nomination process for the award begins in the fall, and five nominations were received this year. A committee which includes two student representatives reviews all applications.

Arlington graduated from Medina High School and received degrees from Genesee Community College and Brockport State College.

She was nominated for the award by third-grader Shannon Withey Jr. and a parent, Kristin Fonda. Support letters were received from community member Bonnie Water, retired colleague Craig Paas and student Logan Fonda.

Kristin Fonda said students of Arlington’s take great strides forward in their education.

“She is dedicated to giving each student the time and attention they need to succeed,” Fonda said.

Fonda explained this year Arlington helped to implement a new procedure for the ARC reading program, grouping students together based on their reading skill level, including those students in the same grade but in different classrooms.

“Communication with parents at home is so important in keeping the school-home connection, and Shannon excels in this area as well,” Fonda wrote. “She sends home weekly updates, which include what the students have learned, will learn and what we should be chatting about at home. When she corrects a paper or test, it’s more than a number and a sticker. She has written an encouraging message on the paper, too, or a constructive comment about what might make the paragraph better.”

Arlington is very involved as both a teacher and a parent. She has started work on getting her National Board Certification, an optional program which requires dedication and many hours of hard work. Teachers who are board certified are recognized as experts in their field and are often sought out to take on leadership positions in their schools and districts.

Parent Kristin Fonda and third-grader Shannon Withey nominated second-grade teacher Shannon Arlington for Lyndonville’s “Educator of the Year” award. They stand with her as the award was presented by School Superintendent Jason Smith during a board meeting Monday night.

Shannon Withey Jr. is a former student of Arlington ’s, who wrote in his nomination that Mrs. Arlington is one of the kindest teachers in the world.

“She is funny sometimes and will help you if you need help,” he said.

Paas wrote that Arlington truly shines in the day-to-day interaction she has with her students.

“She truly invests herself in all of her students, striving to assure their success academically, socially and as being productive members of the community,” Paas said. “Shannon is a master at observing the strengths and weaknesses of her students and then individualizing instruction for those students in order to enrich or remediate as their needs apply. The students who have been fortunate enough to be in her classroom come to school each day, not only excited about learning, but also excited about being in a classroom in which their ideas, interests and feelings are valued.”

As part of her award, Arlington was presented with a check for $1,000, which she plans to use to bring a noted author to the school.

“I feel that providing such an experience would allow students to make new rich connections to text and perhaps encourage more of a love for reading,” she said.

She recalled how author and illustrator Patience Brewster came to her elementary school and she always remembered how that was an amazing day of learning.

Arlington shared how as a child she loved and looked forward to the start of school. She has never forgotten the teachers who inspired her, from her first-grade teacher Mrs. Harmon to Mrs. Figurilli, who was her third-grade teacher during a very difficult time in her life. She was dealing with the divorce of her parents and her brother was killed in a car accident, but Mrs. Figurilli was her main support and source of constancy. Then there was her junior high Spanish teacher Mrs. Biano who always had time to talk; Mrs. Slack, who encouraged her love of literature; and Mr. Maioriana, her junior high principal, who always had a smile on his face and somehow knew every student’s name.

“He always told me, ‘Kid, you can always do more than what you believe you can,’” Arlington said.

She added she has always enjoyed working the children from her days as a little girl playing school with her friends or babysitting.

“As an educator, I believe I must always be willing to learn new things myself in order to be the best teacher I can be for my students,” she said. “I believe educators who provide a predictable, structured, safe and caring environment help all students, but especially those students who may have no structure at home.”

Rose Stephens, a retiring bus driver at Lyndonville Central School after 23 years, received a clock and flowers at Monday’s board of education meeting from Superintendent Jason Smith.

Two employees were recognized on the occasion of their retirement, school bus driver Rose Stephens and kindergarten teacher Robin Boyle.

Stephens has served 23 years as bus driver, and was commended for her history of positive evaluations and for being more than “just a bus driver.”

Smith said Stephens has been a surrogate parent, counselor, a listening ear and a cheerleader to her students, and she will be missed.

Robin Boyle receives a plaque from Lyndonville Central School Superintendent Jason Smith on the occasion of her retirement after spending 16 years in Lyndonville as a kindergarten teacher.

Boyle has been a kindergarten teacher for 30 years, 14 at Brockport and 16 in Lyndonville, her alma mater.

Smith called Boyle a highly successful teacher. He said he had visited her room often and kids were always engaged.

“She is so proud of the progress they make, especially with their Steps in the American Reading program,” Smith said. “Her warmth, caring and compassion are the hallmarks of her teaching career.”

Boyle said she hated to leave Brockport, but once she started at Lyndonville it became very apparent to her this was where she was supposed to be.

“I spent my whole childhood here and eventually moved back to live in my childhood home,” Boyle said. “I have worked under several superintendents and principals, and pride myself on my rapport with the students and their families. When you are a kindergarten teacher, for some you are the child’s first experience to school.”

She shared her thrill at having the school gymnasium dedicated to her father, and said it says a lot that many of the teachers, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria staff are Lyndonville alumni.

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Lyndonville dedicates school yearbook for Megan Dix

Staff Reports Posted 11 June 2018 at 6:47 pm

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – Megan Dix’s family attended the dedication for the school yearbook at today’s Awards Ceremony at Lyndonville Central School.

The 2018 senior class unanimously selected Megan Dix for the dedication. Dix was 33 when she fatally shot last Aug. 25 while taking her lunch break at a small parking lot near Lowe’s, where she worked in Brockport.

Megan is the youngest of eight siblings. She and her husband, Chris, have an 8-year-old son, CJ, who is a student at Lyndonville.

Megan was a 2002 graduate from Lyndonville Central School. Her husband graduated in 2003.

The dedication page in the yearbook shows Megan with her husband Chris and their son, CJ.

Here is the written dedication in the yearbook:

On September 2nd, 1983 the world welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Megan Eleen Duncanson. As Megan grew she became an active member of the Lyndonville Central School. She had much love and pride for Lyndonville. Participating in many extracurriculars such as Soccer, Cheerleading, Softball, Band, Chorus, Yearbook, Prom Committee and Varsity Club to name a few of the many activities Megan enjoyed, throughout her youth and high school career.

While in high school Megan also met her future husband Christopher Dix. On August 19th 2002, Christopher asked Megan to be his girlfriend and the rest was history. The two high school sweethearts were inseparable and created a lifetime of memories together. Memories such as; graduation, Megan in 2002 and Christopher in 2003 both from Lyndonville. The two created a life with the birth of their son, C.J. on July 22nd, 2009 and became husband and wife on June 19th, 2010.

Megan enjoyed spending time with family and friends every chance she was given. A creative spirit, Megan also enjoyed adult coloring books, needlepoint, crocheting and was an avid reader. Her husband Christopher described Megan as perfect in every sense of the word. She strived to make everyone happy and always put others first. Megan truly was a darling daughter, caring mother, loving wife and compassionate friend. The world lost a beautiful person but gained an amazing angel.

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