Holley grad, now at SUNY Brockport, awarded Rotary Scholarship

Staff Reports Posted 13 May 2024 at 11:12 am

Elise Quincey

HOLLEY – Elise Quincey, a 2023 Holley graduate, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship through the Spencerport Rotary Club.

Quincey is the recipient of the 2024 Spencerport Rotary Scholarship in honor of Roger Ressman. Quincey is a sophomore at SUNY Brockport majoring in sustainability and minoring in political science. She plans to become a global sustainability advocate on graduation.

Elise served as president of the Holley Interact Club last year and has been involved in community events for several years. As a member of SUNY Brockport Rotaract, Quincey participated in leadership, team-building and community service activities including the annual Canal Clean-up in April.

A colleague states that Quincey “shows enthusiasm for making a positive impact on her small-town community and beyond…Elise aspires to work collaboratively with communities and policy makers to develop legislation that will support the protection of our planet, focus on ending poverty, and promote the well-being for people of all ages.”

The Spencerport Rotary Club took over the Brockport Rotary scholarship after Brockport Rotary folded about two years ago.

Roy-Hart FFA celebrates many successes at FFA convention

Provided photos: The Royalton-Hartland FFA Chapter was a top performer in many of the competitions held during the state convention in Buffalo.

Posted 9 May 2024 at 9:36 am

Press Release, Royalton-Hartland FFA

MIDDLEPORT – Last week, 40 Royalton-Hartland FFA members and 4 Royalton-Hartland educators traveled to the Buffalo Convention Center for the 99th annual New York State FFA Convention & Expo.

The Roy-Hart group included 28 high school members, 12 middle school members, Matthew Sweeney (HS Agriculture Educator & FFA Advisor) Madeline Keyes (MS Agriculture Educator & Jr. FFA Co-Advisor), Susan McLaughlin (Jr. FFA Co-Advisor), and Shelly Budziszewski (Elementary Green Team Co-Advisor).

Members participated in agriculture industry tours, assisted with day-of-service activities, networked with college and career professionals, earned state degree and proficiency awards, and competed in a variety of Career Development Event (CDE) competitions.

The CDE competitions build on what is learned in agricultural education classes and encourage FFA members to put their knowledge into practice. These events are designed to help a member prepare for a career in agriculture by testing and challenging the student’s technical, leadership, interpersonal, and teamwork skills, as well as their knowledge of the subject matter.

The Milk Quality & Products CDE State Championship Team includes, from left: Phinn Cousins, Mackenzie Diamond, Caleb Verratti and Joshua Kennedy.

All 1st place CDE teams advance to the national level to represent New York State at the National FFA Convention & Expo held in Indianapolis, Indiana in October. Most 2nd place CDE teams advance to the regional level to represent New York State at “The Big E” (Eastern State Exposition) held in West Springfield, Massachusetts in September.

Results from the 2024 NYS FFA Convention:

STATE CHAMPION (1st Place) Milk Quality & Products CDE Team:

  • Mackenzie Diamond – 1st Place Individual
  • Joshua Kennedy – 2nd Place Individual
  • Cayla Burch – 6th Place Individual
  • Phinn Cousins – 8th Place Individual
  • Caleb Verratti

They will represent NYS FFA at the 2024 National FFA Convention.

The Farm & Agribusiness Management CDE State Championship Team includes, from left: Sean Labiak, Sophia Santella, Garrett Armenia and Vanessa Grant.

STATE CHAMPION (1st Place) Farm & Agribusiness Management CDE Team:

  • Vanessa Grant – 3rd Place Individual
  • Garrett Armenia – 7th Place Individual
  • Sophia Santella
  • Sean Labiak

They will represent NYS FFA at the 2024 National FFA Convention.

2nd Place Food Science & Technology CDE Team:

  • Phinn Cousins – 1st Place Individual
  • Nicholas Armenia – 4th Place Individual
  • Caleb Verratti – 6th Place Individual
  • Scott Clark

They will represent NYS FFA at the 2024 Eastern States Exposition (The Big E).

2nd Place Meats Evaluation & Technology CDE Team:

  • Sophia Santella – 3rd Place Individual
  • Nicholas Armenia – 4th Place Individual
  • Phinn Cousins
  • Mackenzie Diamond

They will represent NYS FFA at the 2024 Eastern States Exposition (The Big E).

2nd Place Forestry CDE Team:

  • Adam Yanicki – 4th Place Individual
  • Joshua Kennedy
  • Judson Heck
  • John Konstanty
  • Nathaniel Wolf

They will represent NYS FFA at the 2024 Eastern States Exposition (The Big E).

2nd Place Sr. People In Agriculture LDE:

  • Mackenzie Diamond

3rd Place Maple CDE Team:

  • Nathaniel Wolf
  • Joshua Kennedy
  • Judson Heck
  • John Konstanty

3rd Place Farm & Agribusiness Management CDE Team:

  • Camden VandenBosch – 10th Place Individual
  • Anthony Adams
  • Adam Yanicki
  • Cayla Burch

3rd Place Agricultural Sales CDE Team:

  • Garrett Armenia – 6th Place Individual
  • Caleb Verratti
  • Calvin Dent
  • Camden VandenBosch

Aquaculture CDE Team:

  • Anthony Adams – 4th Place Individual

New York State FFA Empire Degree (Highest FFA Degree in NYS):

  • Sophia Santella

Proficiency Awards:

Joshua Kennedy – Gold in Forest Management & Products; State winner – Advancing to National Convention

Caleb Verratti – Gold in Diversified Crop Production; State winner – Advancing to National Convention

Vanessa Grant – Silver in Agricultural Services

Cayla Burch – Bronze in Vegetable Production

Mackenzie Diamond – Bronze in Veterinary Science

Nicholas Armenia – Bronze in Agricultural Mechanics & Fabrication

Orleans Hub presents awards to Outstanding Citizens

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2024 at 9:02 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans Hub held an awards program on Thursday evening at the Hoag Library, presenting plaques to “Outstanding Citizens” from 2023. We also presented two from 2021.

Pictured from left in front includes Susan Walders, Jenn Thom, Joe Gehl, Scott Christ and Annette Finch. In Back: Gary Kent, Brooke Kemblowski (accepting for her father Gary Derwick), Melisa and Jovannie Canales, Brett Sobrieski, Diane and Neil Valentine (parents of Evan Valentine). Missing from photo: Susan Oschmann.

Orleans Hub used to have an annual awards program to recognize our Outstanding Citizens that we pick for each year. These are people who pulled off a major community project or inspired others to take action on pressing issues.

We stopped having the awards program in 2020 due to Covid restrictions. Last night we were thrilled to have the winners back for a gathering. We also presented the awards for Annette Finch and Evan Valentine from 2021. Back then there wasn’t a bigger gathering and we wanted to give out those awards in front of other people.

Annette Finch retired in 2021 after working 44 years on the front lines of helping local people in need work through a crisis. Finch worked as director of emergency services for Community Action, a high-stress job where she managed food drives, toy drives and other events to bring in resources for people served by the agency.

Finch did a lot behind the scenes in helping people to not have utilities shut off and find emergency housing. She was a steady presence, a voice of encouragement and master problem solver for people in very challenging predicaments.

Evan Valentine of Holley pushed to finish his Eagle Scout project, despite being hospitalized with leukemia. He fought the disease for 2 ½ years and inspired the Holley community with his optimism and perseverance through it all.

Evan would pass away from leukemia on Feb. 21, 2021. His Eagle Scout project was dedicated on June 5, 2021. A team of scouts and volunteers follow his instructions and built a veterans’ wall around the war memorial in Holley by the Post Office and the American Legion. The stone wall includes a sitting area in front with an inscription, “Forever Remembered – Forever Missed.”

2023 Outstanding Citizens

• Three of the directors of the Albion Betterment Committee worked about a decade to raise money and work out the details for a new bronze statue in Albion in honor of Charles Howard, who started a school for Santas in 1937 that continued in Albion until his death in 1966. The school, which is now in Michigan, continues in Howard’s name.

Gary Derwick, Joe Gehl and Gary Kent launched an ambitious project to honor Howard with a bronze statue, which was unveiled on June 10 last year during the Strawberry Festival with many of Howard’s family members present. The Albion Betterment Committee has spent years honor Howard’s legacy, putting up “Believe” signs, convincing the state to name a portion of Route 31 in memory of Howard, and backing other projects promoting Howard, including two Santa murals in Albion.

The bronze statue was the biggest effort. They raised about $80,000 for the project and hired Brian Porter to create the statue in a likeness of Howard in his Santa suit.

• Pastor Jovannie Canales of the Oasis Church in Medina wants students to be well-stocked with supplies when the school year starts. He also wants their families to be connected to agencies and churches that can make their families stronger. For six years Canales has organized a Family Fun Day at Butts Park in Medina. The event attracted 600 people on Aug. 5. It has grown from the first one in a parking lot. Now there are musicians, many non-profit organizations, lots of free food, BMX bikers and skateboarders, many from the faith community, and numerous school supplies.

• Susan Oschmann pushed for two years to get new basketball courts at Bullard Park in ALbion, lining up fundraising and support for the project. Oschmann rallied the community, including basketball legend Roosevelt Bouie of Kendall, in getting two new courts complete. They opened on Oct. 26.

• Jenn Thom of Medina leads an organization – Operation Honor – that raises money for veterans. She has put on a 5K on Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11 since 2018 as one of the group’s biggest fundraisers.

Thom hasn’t served in the military. She runs an accounting business. Operation Honor is her way of serving veterans who she said sacrificed so much for the country. Many of those vets often find themselves in financial stress. Operation Honor is able to lighten that load whether covering utility bills, car payments, or purchasing heating pellets for veterans in need.

• Susan Walders has been determined to help senior citizens, especially those in nursing home and other care facilities, get outdoors and connect with nature. She sees bike rides as a great way to meet that goal.

Last year she was able to raise $12,000 for a new tri-shaw, a 3-wheeled bike with cushions for two passengers. She has formed a non-profit organizations, Cycling Without Age in Orleans County, with a board of directors.

The bike arrived in late August and Walders took it to The Villages of Orleans on Sept. 27 for the first bike rides, taking residents on a path behind the nursing home. She and her group of volunteers expect to be busy this year going to nursing homes and other care facilities for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

• Scott “Spanky” Christ brought back the Murray Tractor Pull last year after a four-year absence. There was a record-setting crowd of about 1,600 that watched the pulls on July 22, and raised $8,500 for the Ronald McDonald House, which provides hospitality for families with children fighting a serious illness.

Christ is part of a three-generation family that competes in tractor pulling. Christ drives “Just For Fun” in the Super Farm Class and is regularly among the points leaders in that class for the Empire State Pullers. His father Lloyd drives his Heavy Super Stock tractor, “It’s Only Money,” and Scott son’s Travis also competes in the Super Farm Class with “No Expectations.”

• Brett Sobieraski ran a marathon every day for 50 straight days, honoring the memory of Rochester police officer Anthony “Maz” Mazurkiewicz, who was killed in the line of duty on July 21, 2022.

Sobieraski, a retired Rochester police sergeant, lives in Kent. He started his “8 States for Maz” jounrey in Florida and worked his way up to Rochester, going 26.2 miles a day.

Sobieraski sought to raise $100,000 for Mazurkiewicz’s family and topped that goal. Along the way he inspired people in the eight states.

Sobieraski said he wanted the officer’s family to feel love and respect from the community, and know Maz’s life of service is deeply appreciated. The response was far more than Sobieraski could have imagined. In the last 5K of the final marathon, 850 people joined him in Rochester.

Graphics student from Albion wins poster contest for Taste of Buffalo

Posted 3 May 2024 at 7:55 am

Provided photo: Kelli Dingle of Albion holds her winning design.

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

ALBION – Congratulations to Kelli Dingle, an Albion junior in the Graphic Communications program at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center.

She was recently informed that her submission for the 2024 Taste of Buffalo Tops Poster Art Contest not only was selected for the First Prize winner for the 13 to 17-year-old age category, but also the Overall Grand Prize winner.

She will receive $1,000 for her prize money and her artwork will be used in the creation of the official Taste of Buffalo poster!

“I am so proud of Kelli,” says her Graphic Communications teacher Karen Krull.  “She is an amazing artist, extremely talented and has so much potential. This is very exciting.”

Lyndonville team wins Niagara-Orleans Envirothon

Posted 2 May 2024 at 10:18 am

Photos and information courtesy of Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District: A team from Lyndonville won the Niagara-Orleans Envirothon on Wednesday. The team was from Mrs. Wronski’s class, and students included Maddie Baker, James Giarla, Molly Ingersoll and Jocelyn Mack.

LEWISTON – A team from Lyndonville Central School was first among 12 schools and won the Niagara-Orleans Envirothon on Wednesday at the Bond Lake Park Nature Center in Lewiston.

The team was from Mrs. Wronski’s class, and students included Maddie Baker, James Giarla, Molly Ingersoll and Jocelyn Mack.

The team from Lyndonville also won the Oral Presentation, Current Issue, and Soils portions of Envirothon.

Twelve teams of high school students competed from Albion, Brockport, Christian Academy, Lewiston-Porter, Lockport, Lyndonville, Medina, Newfane, Niagara Academy, Niagara Falls, Niagara Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, Royalton Hartland, Starpoint, Wilson, Niagara Career & Technical Education Center, and Orleans Career & Technical Education Center.

Teams of four to six students in grades 9-12 were tested on wildlife, aquatics, forestry, soils/land use, and a current environmental issue.

This year’s current issue is Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Future.  Students had to develop a theoretical plan for a school district to help reach renewable energy goals and present for a panel of judges to grade.

The overall winners for Niagara County are from Niagara Orleans County Career and Technical Center. They are from Mr. Kaplewicz’s class, and students include Alex Achtziger-Hughes, Samantha Maciejewski, Miles Manns and Alyssa Nagel.

Roy-Hart’s team from Mr. Sweeney’s class won the Aquatics portion, students included Cayla Burch, Mackenzie Diamond, Vanessa Grant, Joshua Kennedy, Clara Wojciechowski and Adam Yanicki.

A second team from Niagara Orleans Career and Technical Center won the Forestry and Wildlife portions. Students included Shane Beaton, Devin Carney, Cole Handrich, Dakota Ward and Ava Vanoni.

The overall county winners will move on to represent their county at the NYS Envirothon later this month at SUNY Cortland.

A special thank you to this year’s event sponsors M&T Bank, NewRoyal Orchards, and the NYS Forest Owners Association – Niagara Frontier Chapter for providing breakfast, lunch, and Envirothon shirts for the students.

Exams and proctoring were provided by the Aquarium of Niagara, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, and both Soil and Water Conservation Districts from Orleans and Niagara counties.

Vic DiGiacomo of the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee came to discuss future conservation careers and opportunities with students.

The Niagara-Orleans Envirothon is a yearly event for county high school students presented by Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District and Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Envirothon is an environmental competition on different aspects of natural resources.  It gives students hands-on experience and knowledge of the environment to understand how to protect and manage the natural resources around them.

For more information about Envirothon visit or

To participate next year please reach out to the Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District at (716) 434-4949 ext. 4 or email

O/N BOCES students take gold at state skills championship

Photos courtesy of Orleans/Niagara BOCES: These students won the gold award for crime scene investigation. Pictured includes, from left: teacher Gene Newman, Gabrielle Rosenbeck (Newfane), Shianne Beauman (Royalton-Hartland) and Sahara Holland (Barker).

Staff Reports Posted 30 April 2024 at 3:35 pm

MEDINA – Orleans/Niagara BOCES students brought home many medals at the New York State SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Championships last week in Syracuse.

It was an incredible opportunity for students to showcase their talents and skills as they competed against other career and technical education students from across the state and participated in leadership workshops.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Their mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. Gold medalists have the option of competing at the national level at the world’s largest gathering of America’s future skilled workforce in Atlanta, Georgia at the end of June.

The four students in center won first place in the Health Knowledge Bowl. They include Layne Hodgins – Medina, Brookelyn Nawotka – Medina, Kiran Lennox – Albion and Grace Walker – Roy-Hart.

Students at the Orleans Career Technical Education Center in Medina who placed in the top three include:

  • Austin Gardner of Lyndonville, Gold, Electronics Technology in the Electricity/Electronics program
  • Dakota Gilhousen of Lockport, Gold, CNC 3-Axis Milling Programmer in the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering program
  • Madison Davis of Lyndonville, Gold, Health Occupations Professional Portfolio in the Allied Health program
  • Grace Walker of Roy-Hart, Layne Hodgins of Medina, Kiran Lennox of Albion and Brooklyn Nawotka of Medina, Gold, Health Knowledge Bowl in Allied Health program
  • Gabrielle Rosenbeck of Newfane, Sahara Holland of Barker, and Shianne Beauman of Roy-Hart, Gold, Crime Scene Investigation in Security & Law Enforcement program

  • Javier Hamilton of Lockport, Silver, Technical Drafting in Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering program
  • Caleb Joseph of Newfane, Silver, Technical Computer Applications in Computer Technology program
  • Kelsey Lemoi of Medina, Silver in Basic Health Care Skills in Allied Health program
  • Garrett Armenia of Roy-Hart, Silver, Internet of Things in Computer Technology program
  • Charlie LaGreca of Barker, Silver,  HVAC and Refrigeration. He is in the HVAC and Refrigeration program which is held at the Niagara site for BOCES.

  • Sam Bruning of Roy-Hart, Riley Bloomingdale of Roy-Hart & Andrew Kimball of Newfane, Bronze, Advanced Manufacturing Technology in Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering program.

  • Abigayle Wright from Medina also will represent OCTEC as a New York State SkillsUSA Officer. Her position will be determined at National SkillsUSA Championship.

These students from Lyndonville won gold at the New York State SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Championships. Austin Gardner, left, took first in Electronics Technology while Madison Davis was tops for Health Occupations Professional Portfolio.

31 inducted into honor society at Albion Middle School

Provided photo: The new inductees of the National Junior Honor Society are pictured at the middle school on Thursday evening.

Posted 26 April 2024 at 3:29 pm

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – Carl I. Bergerson Middle School inducted 31 students into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) on Thursday.

The current members of NJHS led the ceremony, explaining that the organization is built on the four pillars of scholarship, service, leadership and character and that inductees must exhibit all four qualities and be recommended by a faculty member in order to be eligible. The current member of NJHS include Aubrielle Barry, Sophia Bouchey, Maliyah Carithers, Makenzie Cook, Peyton Dimatteo, Alivia Dumrese, Lillian Fisher, Anna Gillette, Julia Graham, Sadie Money, Dakota Palmer, Adelaide Pettit, Drake Schomske, Keira Sidari, Katelyn Viza, Tra’Monie Walker, Nathan Wehling and Aniela Wilson.

Some of the current members were recognized with the Service Pin for completing 25 hours of service. Those members include Sophia Bouchey, Makenzie Cook, Julia Graham, Dakota Palmer, Adelaide Pettit, Drake Schomske, Tra’Monie Walker, Nathan Wehling and Aniela Wilson.

Once the Service Pins were awarded, Mrs. Robin Bower addressed both current and new members of NJHS as the night’s guest speaker. In her speech, she highlighted students’ perseverance and love of learning, commending them on their hard work and their well deserved success.

The soon-to-be new inductees were then asked to stand and recite the NJHS pledge before crossing the stage to receive their certificates and sign the registry book. The newly inducted members of NJHS include Madison Blount, Colson Braley, Stryker Braley, Aubrey Bruning, Kelsey Crawford, Blake Coty, Jax Gotte, Lena Grillo, Rianne Hand, Sophie Kozody, Carter Krull, Maddax Krull, Noah Latz, Nicole Loney, Adele Mathes, Logan Mayes, Mary McCormick, Brooklynn Miens, Tatiana Morales, Jane Nesbitt, Hannah Olles, Kamryn Peruzzini, Kendall Peruzzini, Brooklyn Pisano, Parker Roberts, Thailer Seibert, Scarlett Stambach, Oliver Stoffa, Caden Woolston, Chloe Mosele, and Kasia Robinson.

Congratulations everyone!

County Mental Health Department recognized for ‘best overall quality performance’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 April 2024 at 8:40 am

Team at county named tops in Finger Lakes Region for connecting youth and families to services

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Danielle Figura (speaking at right), director of Mental Health and Community Services for Orleans County, accepts a recognition award on Tuesday from the Orleans County Legislature after the County Mental Health Department received the “Best Overall Quality Performance” of the Finger Lake Region for Children’s Health Homes of Upstate New York.

At left are Karen Krug and Alan Girangaya, both care managers for the County Mental Health Department. Melinda Rhim (not pictured) also is coordinator of Care Management Services for the department. (In back from left are County Legislature Vice Chairman Bill Eick; Lisa Stenshorn, clerk of the legislature; Kim DeFrank, county treasurer; and Legislator Skip Draper.)

The Mental Health Department serves youth and their families in Orleans County as part of the Children’s Health Homes of Upstate New York. Health Home Care Management programs under the state Department of Mental Health. The county serves youth and their families by connecting them to additional supports and resources in the community to improve their overall physical and emotional health, Figura said.

Lyndonville resident in nursing program earns award at NCCC

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 19 April 2024 at 1:09 pm

Provided photo: Brooke Wells of Lyndonville, a student at Niagara County Community College, is recognized with SUNY’s highest honor for Academic Excellence by John B. King Jr. (left), chancellor; and William Murabito, president of NCCC.

LYNDONVILLE – A local resident has received the State University of New York’s highest honor for academic excellence.

Brooke Wells, daughter-in-law of Jim and Valerie Wells of Lyndonville and a nursing student at Niagara County Community College, was recognized April 11 for her outstanding traits of leadership, campus involvement and community service.

Brooke will complete her registered nurse degree at NCCC in May. While a student in the rigorous registered nurse program, she has served as vice president of the Student Nurses’ Association. She also organized collection drives for Niagara Falls Gospel Mission, Caroline House, Oishei Children’s Hospital and Niagara County Sheriff’s office’s domestic violence unit. In addition, she has facilitated guest speakers and fundraisers with bake sales at the college.

“This was such a wonderful surprise,” Valerie said.

Dr. Julie Woodworth, professor of nursing at NCCC, said, “Brooke has dedicated many hours to her studies in pursuit of her RN degree. She has exemplified the traits of compassion, clinical judgement and empathy in her clinical practice. In addition, she has immersed herself in the NCCC community and has organized those activities and dedicated her time the community. Brooke’s recognition with the SUNY Academic Excellence honor is well deserved.”

Outside of school, Brooke completed an internship program, getting real life experience in healthcare. As a result, she received an EXCEL Certificate of Excellence award from Rochester Regional Health.

After graduating from NCCC, Brooke will be entering the Nursing Residency Program at Strong Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department.

O/N BOCES receives national award for corrections literacy and job skills program

Posted 16 April 2024 at 3:07 pm

Provided photo: Dr. Michael Weyrauch (Orleans/Niagara BOCES Director of Continuing Education, Career and Technical Education and Instructional Services), Susan Diemert (Literacy Specialist) and Colleen Osborn (Board of Education President) accept the Magna Award in New Orleans.

Press Release/Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – The Orleans/Niagara BOCES was one of the grand prize winners in the 29th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal.

This year, the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders for their innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to address district challenges. Members of the NSBA Board of Directors Awards Committee selected the winners from district submissions.

“The Magna Awards spotlight innovative programs that are making a difference for students and the communities where they live,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs. “From providing incarcerated individuals with essential job readiness training and hope for the future to preparing students for the ever-evolving landscape of careers through specialized programs, each of our grand prize-winning programs exemplifies the transformative power of education. These award winners serve as shining examples of what can be achieved when creativity and dedication intersect in the pursuit of excellence.”

There were three grand prize-winning programs and Orleans/Niagara BOCES won in the Under 5,000 enrollment.  The local BOCES was recognized for their Corrections Literacy and Job Skills: A Second Chance program provides incarcerated students and adults the opportunity to take classes and training to increase their chance of employment after release at Niagara County Jail. (You can view a movie about the jail program at this link:

Representatives Orleans/Niagara BOCES Board of Education – President Colleen Osborn, Literacy Specialist Susan Diemert and Director of Continuing Education, Career and Technical Education and Instructional Services Dr. Michael Weyrauch – were presenters at NSBA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans in April and were featured in the 2024 Magna Awards video. All winners will be highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ at

Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) purpose is to ensure each student everywhere has access to excellent and equitable public education governed by high-performing school board leaders and supported by the community.

With members spread across the United States, the Virgin Islands, and Canada, NSBA is the only national organization representing school boards. Along with its member state associations and member public school districts representing locally elected school board officials serving millions of public school students, NSBA believes that public education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people and that each child, regardless of their ability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, identity, or citizenship, deserves equitable access to an education that maximizes their individual potential.

Rakonczay of O/N BOCES recognized as a ‘Champion of Change’

Posted 11 April 2024 at 11:41 am

Provided photo: from left include Colleen Osborn (Orleans/Niagara BOCES Board of Education President), Tricia Andrews (NYSSBA Area 1 Ambassador), Bill Rakonczay and Nicole Goyette (Orleans Career and Technical Education Center Principal).

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Orleans Career and Technical Education Center’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering teacher Bill Rakonczay was recognized by the New York State School Boards Association at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES’ Board of Education meeting on April 10.

Mr. Rakonczay was presented with the prestigious award: Champions of Change. The award was created by NYSSBA to highlight the positive programming that brings change to students, communities and the school districts of New York.

Mr. Rakonczay was brought to their attention through E-Clips and an article that was written about him and his program. A committee chose Mr. Rakonczay’s program and Clarence School District Board of Education member, Awards and Recognition Committee member and NYSSBA Area 1 Ambassador Tricia Andrews came to the board of education meeting to present a recognition banner to Mr. Rakonczay.

Over a two-year period in his class, students are exposed to Computer Numerical Machining, Computer Aided Design and Welding Technologies.  Students experience how technology interacts in a real manufacturing environment in labs and local industries.  His students have manufactured parts for the International Space Station with NASA’s HUNCH program.

“I am so honored to have received this award,” said Mr. Rakonczay.  “I love what I do and this recognition means the world to me. I am looking forward to many more years of teaching at BOCES.”

Velocitii again named a top workplace in the Rochester region

Provided photo: Velocitii leaders celebrate the company being recognize for a top workplace award during a ceremony in Rochester. Pictured from left include Bryan Orr, director of finance; Brian O'Neill, VP of Sales; Kristine Hughes, director of operations; Heather Smith, CEO; and Jeff Brandt, VP of information technology. The top workplace awards are presented by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2024 at 1:46 pm

MEDINA – Velocitii for the second straight year has been named a top workplace in the Rochester region.

Velocitii just celebrated its 10th anniversary. It operates out of the Olde Pickle Factory on Park Avenue in Medina.

Velocitii is a business process outsourcing company. It provides support for other businesses, handling calls for customers about plans, billing and troubleshooting. Velocitii works with companies in healthcare, waste management, hospitality, e-commerce, auto insurance and technology.

It is one of 68 companies recognized with a “Top Workplaces 2024 award.” Velocitii placed 2nd in the mid-size company category (125 to 300 employees).

Velocitii also won the “Managers” Specialty Award. Company leaders say the recognition show Velocitii’s commitment to cultivating a culture of excellence, fostering employee development, and “fostering unparalleled engagement within our organization.”

“At Velocitii, the employee-centric culture we have cultivated is central to our growth strategy and our continued success,” said Heather Smith, CEO of Velocitii. “I could not be more excited that we, once again, have been recognized by external sources for our efforts in creating an environment where our employees feel valued and their professional development is a priority. Being recognized as a Top Workplace is an honor and will keep us focused on our continuous improvement process to remain an employer of choice.”

Throughout the past year, the company has spearheaded various initiatives aimed at enhancing its workplace environment. These initiatives include the establishment of a Diversity Council, the introduction of the innovative “What’s on Your Mind” suggestion box, the implementation of a robust Work Anniversary Program, and the introduction of merit-based increases.

Medina school district gets national music honor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2024 at 5:53 pm

Albion makes it 17 straight years recognized by NAMM Foundation

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Medina Marching Band enters Vets Park on Sept. 23 for a performance at home during the Fall Festival of Bands. Medina is one of the smaller schools that competes in the field band competition and has won the New York State Field Band Conference Championship several times.

Two school districts in Orleans County has been recognized as a “Best Communities for Music Education,” two of the 975 in the country to receive the designation from the North American Music Merchants.

Medina made the list for the first time. The school district last year started doing its own musical in the junior-senior high school after about a decade of a shared program with Lyndonville. Medina has long had a stellar marching band program.

Albion was recognized for the 17th straight year. Like Medina, Albion offers vocal and instrumental music programs from elementary, middle and high schools, with many performances in the schools and out in the community.

NAMM has been recognized school districts for 25 years. The award recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education, NAMM said.

Mike Thaine, the Albion High School band director, leads the band during a holiday concert on Dec. 20, 2023.

The NAMM Foundation’s list shows only these school districts in New York have matched or surpassed Albion for longevity on the list: Bayshore, 21 years; Clarence, 19; Fayetteville-Manlius, 19; Great Neck, 18; Jericho Union, 20; Johnson City, 19; Le Roy, 17; Monroe-Woodbury, 18; Monticello, 17; Nanuet Union, 17; North Babylon, 18; Northport Union, 17; Ossining Union, 17; Pittsford, 19; Port Jefferson, 19; Rush-Henrietta, 19; Syosset, 22; Webster, 18; West Genesee, 18; and West Irondequoit, 22.

Other nearby districts also were recognized including Batavia for the first time, Roy-Hart for the second year, Brockport for the seventh year, Pembroke for the fifth year and Lockport for the ninth year.

“Our unwavering commitment is steadfast in embracing and rewarding educators, administrators, parents and community leaders who applaud and support comprehensive music instruction as a fundamental part of core learning opportunities,” said John Mlynczak, NAMM president and CEO. “These leaders offer an extraordinary model of teaching that ignites a foundation of success we can all honor and celebrate.”

For more on the NAMM Foundation, click here.

3 from Job Corps earn high school diplomas, set plans for the future

Provided photos from Ashtin Fiegel, Iroquois Job Corps Recreation Department manager: Three students at the Iroquois Job Corps in Shelby recently celebrated earning their high school diplomas, including from left Quintin Mitchell, Javen Feliciano and Keyonia Pompey.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 1 April 2024 at 8:31 am

SHELBY – Three students at the Iroquois Job Corps center have recently received their high school diplomas. They are Javen Feliciano, Quintin Mitchell and Keyonia Pompey.

“Javen has been at Iroquois Job Corps Center since January 2023,” said Stephanie Kellogg, academic manager at IJCC. “He has completed the carpentry program, been active in student leadership and is a positive impact on center culture. He is preparing to begin work-based learning as he comes to the end of his Job Corps journey. After completing the program, he plans on joining the Air Force.”

“Quintin, 17, is from Rochester and is looking forward to completing the brick-laying trade and getting his driver’s license,” Kellogg said. “He will tell you that he struggled a bit in academics until he got the motivation to help him focus and finish his credits. We are very excited to see Quintin continue to succeed and complete his Job Corps program.”

The third student, Keyonia Pompey, came to Iroquois Job Corps Center from Buffalo in August 2023.

“While at IJCC, Keyonia got her driver’s permit and is nearing completion of the Certified Nursing Assistant program,” Kellogg said. “Upon completion of CNA, she is planning on doing work-based learning in a long-term care facility and then returning to the Buffalo area to work as a CNA.”

2 from Orleans selected for Girls State program

Staff Reports Posted 14 March 2024 at 8:16 am

Mallory Kozody, left, and MacKenzie Fiorito will represent Orleans County at the Empire Girls State program.

Two high school juniors in Orleans County have been selected for the Empire Gurls State program from June 30 to July 6 at SUNY Brockport.

Mallory Kozody of Albion and MacKenzie Fiorito of Holley have been picked for the program, which is run by the American Legion Auxiliary. Anna Hess from Lyndonville has been named an alternate.

Classified as an “Action Program,” Empire Girls State focuses on providing students with the opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops highlighting the process of government, running campaigns, writing bills and other political activities.

As part of the program, participants become citizens of a fictional 51st state where they are in charge of building and establishing their own government.

According to the American Legion Auxiliary, the program “endeavors in one week to instruct the young women attending about the privileges of the vote, how political parties are formed and how leaders are chosen and elected to fill the various offices – it serves to instill in them the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of the American Citizenship as they actually participate in the process.”