Albion celebrates school spirit during homecoming week

Posted 20 September 2021 at 2:58 pm

Photos courtesy of ACS: The Homecoming Court consisted of from left: King Jahmeek Riley and Queen Leah Pritchard, Prince Pom Siebert (missing from photo) and Princess Hannah Moyer, Duchess Sophia Albanese and Duke Finn McCue, and Lady Mackenzie Snook and Lord Seth Krenning.

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – Homecoming week was back in full force last week at Albion Central School District. Students in the high school participated in dress up days, hall decorating and pep rally games all week while the Purple Eagle athletes were busy in action on the court and the field.

Monday’s character day winner was Emily Graham. Throwback Trends on Tuesday was done best by Adrian Kingdollar while Camryn London won best dressed for Wednesday’s Holiday Day. On Thursday, each class was assigned a color to wear. Freshman Julia Knight, Sophomore Autumn Flugel, Junior Alexis Hess and Senior Leah Kania donned their colors the best. Friday’s Spirit Day winner was Kira Zambito while the all-around winner of the week was Ethan Ferchen.

The Hall Decorating competition went strictly by class: Seniors in first, juniors in second, sophomores in third and freshmen in fourth. Seniors also won the musical spots competition while juniors provided the upset in hungry hippos. Faculty prevailed over the seniors in both male and female tug of war.

The Purple Eagles battled in volleyball Friday night while football capped off an exciting spirit day with a 42-16 victory. Super Soccer Saturday featured a raucous crowd to cap off a successful 2021 homecoming week.

Hall Decorating:

  1. Seniors (Disney) (video)
  2. Juniors (Survivor) (video)
  3. Sophomores (Candy) (video)
  4. Freshmen (Jungle) (video)


Musical Spots – Seniors

Hungry Hippos – Juniors

Female Tug of War – Faculty

Male Tug of War – Faculty

Spirit Stick:

  1. Seniors
  2. Juniors
  3. Sophomores
  4. Freshmen

Seniors captured the spirit stick title while juniors came in second, sophomores in third and freshmen in fourth.

Investigator with Sheriff’s Office opens new fitness studio in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2021 at 4:08 pm

Shannon Brett, a certified personal trainer, offers many classes from beginner to advanced

Photo by Tom Rivers: Shannon Brett has opened Project: U in the second floor of 116 North Main St., Albion. Some of the classes include spin, Tabata (high-intensity interval training), Silver Sneakers, boot camp, strength workout, Barre (combining ballet, yoga and Pilates), yoga and TRX suspension training.

ALBION – It was about a decade ago when Shannon Brett was inside the Orleans County Courthouse when a teen bolted from the building.

Brett, an investigator with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, took off running after the person. She didn’t have to go far before the teen was apprehended. Brett was gasping for air.

“I could barely breathe,” she said. “I was coughing and hacking. I realized how out of shape I was.”

Brett signed up for a gym membership in Brockport, and the beginning was “horrible.” Her body didn’t like the exercise and she didn’t like the atmosphere, with lots of tough guys and not a lot of instruction on how to use the machines.

Brett learned how to use the different exercise machines, and found herself helping a lot of new people at the gym. She got in better shape and took that experience to help others embrace a more active lifestyle.

Brett became a certified personal trainer and an instructor at The Whole Approach in Holley. On Sept. 7, she opened her own fitness studio – Project: U – in Albion at 116 North Main St., in the second floor of what was once a dance studio.

The floor mat from that studio works well for the group exercises at Project: U. Brett also has 7 stationary bikes for spin classes and TRX suspension straps.

Brett, 44, expects to retire next year from a law enforcement career. She started 19 ½ years ago with the Sheriff’s Office. She said fitness is a passion and she wants to share that with others.

“The project is you and your project starts here,” she said today in the studio. “I want to bring in people to work on their fitness journey.”

She and her two instructors offer classes at beginning, intermediate and more advanced levels. As a certified personal trainer, Brett also can work one on one with people to develop a plan for fitness goals whether building strength, cardio or losing some weight.

Her classes are welcoming and nonjudgmental, with the members offering encouragement to each other. Most of the classes are smaller with up to 10 people. But she also will work with people individually.

“Not everyone feels comfortable walking into a gym or a fitness studio,” Brett said. “With some one-on-one training, they can build that confidence.”

Project: U will celebrate its grand opening on Sept. 25 and the public is welcome to stop by and try a mini session of the classes. The schedule that day includes: Tabata at 10 a.m., Pound at 10:30, Yoga at 11, Spin at 11:30, Barre at noon and TRX at 12:30. Click here for more information or email

$4,500 from golf tournament goes to transportation program for seniors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2021 at 8:46 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Becky Karls (left), one of the organizers of a July 15 golf tournament for the Albion Rotary Club, presents a $4,500 ceremonial check to Melissa Blanar, director of the Orleans County Office for the Aging on Thursday at the OFA office.

The funds will support a volunteer transportation program that was started in 2019 by the OFA. That program is seeing more demand since Community Action ended a transportation program on Sept. 1 for senior citizens citing a deficit with CATS. Communtiy Action would take local seniors to appointments, including to see doctors out of county.

CATS provided 5,388 rides for seniors in 2020, and transported 2,759 seniors this year through July 31, according to data from the Office for the Aging.

Blanar said the local seniors are “facing a transportation crisis.” She has reached out to other providers and they are much more costly than CATS.

She said the volunteer program is seeing more demand, but there aren’t enough drivers. That program helps adults over age 60.

“The demand we are seeing now is more than we can handle,” Blanar said.

Those drivers, who receive a mileage reimbursement, will take people to medical appointments, grocery stores, nursing homes to visit loved ones and other appointments.

The volunteer program peaked with 18 drivers and currently has 12. Blanar said all drivers must be 18. There is a strong need for drivers will to take seniors to appointments in Monroe, Erie and Genesee counties.

Last year, the volunteers did 252 rides for 12 months. This year, in the first six months of 2021, the volunteers were already up to 236 rides, Blanar said.

The agency suggests riders make a $5 donation for trips within the county and $15 outside Orleans, but that isn’t required. The Office for the Aging also is encouraging seniors to try the RTS public transportation but that agency is often locked into a schedule and it can be difficult to link up with other buses for trips out of county.

For more information about the volunteer program, either as a driver or rider, contact the OFA at (585) 589-3191.

The Rotary Club also shared $1,000 for the July 15 tournament with the leadership Orleans program.

Bridge closure for repairs on Allens Bridge Road over canal

Posted 14 September 2021 at 5:04 pm

Press Release, NYS Department of Transportation

ALBION – The New York State Department of Transportation is advising motorists that the bridge carrying Allens Bridge Road over the Erie Canal in the town of Albion near Eagle Harbor will be closed starting Wednesday, September 15, to facilitate bridge repairs on the structure.

Alternate routes to cross over the Erie Canal can be found at Presbyterian Road and Eagle Harbor Road.

Motorists are urged to slow down and drive responsibly in work zones. Fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone. Convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual’s driver license.

Albion district awaiting details on Covid testing mandate for unvaccinated staff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 September 2021 at 9:12 am

ALBION – The school district is awaiting guidance from the Department of Health about a new state mandate requiring unvaccinated staff to be tested weekly for Covid-19.

Mickey Edwards, the district superintendent, said 83.8 percent of Albion Central School staff are vaccinated and don’t need to be tested weekly.

The other 46 employees will need to be tested for Covid. Edwards said the district is waiting on guidance from the DOH on how the tests should be administered, whether at the district and if employees could get tested on their own and then submit the results.

“It is working out the logistics of it,” Edwards said this morning. “It is determining when and who is doing the testing.”

The unvaccinated staff will need to do the tests weekly “or they can’t come to work,” Edwards told the Board of Education on Monday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Aug. 31 announced the testing requirement for school employees statewide.

In other action during the Board of Education meeting,

 The board accepted a $5,000 donation from the Albion Alumni Foundation to be used as the “Superintendent’s Discretionary Fund,” which assists students in need during the school year.

The estate of Kathryn Mahany Kerrigan provides the funding. Kerrigan was a certified primary care nurse practitioner and nurse midwife.

The board accepted 2,150 masks in adult and youth sizes at a value of $1,309.35 from BMP America in Medina.

Albion school district eyes $26.7 million capital project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 September 2021 at 7:55 am

Synthetic turf at football field, host of security improvements, other projects at 3 school buildings and bus garage

File photo by Tom Rivers: The project would replace the 9-inch wide lockers in the high school with ones that are either 12 or 15 inches wide. The lockers are considered too small by many students to fit in a backpack full of books and often clothes for an after-school practice. The district’s declining enrollment means fewer lockers are now needed and could be replaced with ones that are wider.

ALBION — The school district is looking to put a $26,690,000 million capital project before voters on Dec. 14. The project would be 97 percent funded by state aid, and would include improvements at all three schools, the bus garage and synthetic turf at the football field, varsity soccer and softball fields.

The Board of Education on Oct. 4 expects to vote on the project, and finalize the scope of work and the financing. It expects to put the $26,690,000 project before district voters on Dec. 14.

King & King Architects of Syracuse went over the project with the Board of Education on Monday. Kirk Narburgh, King & King CEO, is an Albion graduate and led the presentation from King & King.

If the project is approved by district voters, King & King would work on the design and construction documents for about eight months, with a four-month approval process then expected by the State Education Department. Bidding would be in January-February 2023, according to a timeline present by Narburgh.

Construction would be April 2023 through December 2024, with two summers of construction phased in. The project’s final punch list and close out would be January through March 2025, according to a timeline presented by Narburgh.

The project includes many improvements, but does not include new air conditioning throughout the school buildings, which Narburgh said would be a $10 million expense per building or $30 million total. (Editor’s Note: The original article said air conditioning would be $10 million throughout the three school buildings, but district officials said this morning it would be $10 million per school or $30 million total.)

“It’s been on the list and it will continue to be on the list, but it fell below the priority list,” Narburgh said about district-wide AC.

The project addresses the most critical and prioritized infrastructure issues identified during the 2020 building condition survey and building tours. It addresses safety and security building systems (such as access controls) identified in the Armored One security assessment of all buildings.

It would provide year-round accessibility through the installation of synthetic turf surfaces for the soccer/softball complex and the football stadium.

Mickey Edwards, the district superintendent, said the synthetic fields could be used by gym classes, and also the baseball team, allowing baseball to get outside earlier in the spring for drills when the grass field is often too wet. The synthetic fields also have much less maintenance costs for the district.

“We don’t have to water, fertilize or cut,” Edwards said.

The synthetic fields last about 15 years, Narburgh said.

The capital project also will modify the drop-off area at the middle school to allow more vehicles on the district’s driving lanes. Right now there is often a long line of vehicles in the morning and afternoon that stretches out on Route 31.

The project also meets a district goal of having no additional tax impact on the community, Narburgh said.

A breakdown of the project includes:

Middle School ($9,990,000)

  • Security enhancements to include security films, access controls, exterior/interior door replacements/hardware, communication/notification systems
  • Refinish gym floor, replace gym HC lift, new wall pads, ceiling and lighting
  • Replace auditorium air conditioning
  • Provide parallel pool pump and replace hot water heaters and storage tank
  • Miscellaneous mechanical upgrades including original building wing unit ventilators
  • Integrate carbon monoxide monitoring, upgrade building system controls to digital (from pneumatic) and miscellaneous panel board and switchgear upgrades
  • Miscellaneous site work to include parent drop-off loop, renovate playground at east side, and multi-purpose surface at soccer/softball complex

High School ($9,975,000)

  • Security enhancements to include security films, access controls, exterior/interior door replacements/hardware, communication/notification systems
  • Replace gym floor, resurface folding partitions, replace bleachers, ceiling/lighting, ventilation system and new wall-mounted scoreboards. The main center scoreboard would be removed.
  • Renovate locker rooms and replace recessed corridor locker with wider 12-inch (or possibly 15-inch). The current hallway lockers are 9 inches wide.
  • Replace hot water heaters, add redundant boiler, and replace heating line
  • Integrate CO monitoring, upgrade building system controls to digital (from pneumatic) and miscellaneous panel board and switchgear upgrades
  • Miscellaneous site work to include new accessible sidewalks, tennis court reconstruction, and multi-purpose surface at football stadium complex, etc.

Elementary School ($6,025,000)

  • Security enhancements to include security films, access controls, exterior/interior door replacements/hardware, communication/notification systems
  • Refinish main gym floor and replace folding partitions and divider curtains
  • Reconfigure entry vestibule and finish renovations to district office
  • Replace some plumbing fixtures that have aged out and domestic cold water/hot water, sanitary and storm piping in 1955 building
  • Miscellaneous mechanical upgrades including original building wing unit ventilators
  • Integrate CO monitoring, upgrade building system controls to digital (from pneumatic) and miscellaneous panel board and switchgear upgrades
  • Miscellaneous site work to include sidewalk replacement, east side loop drop-off loop

Bus Garage ($700,000)

  • Security enhancements to include security films, access controls, exterior/interior door replacements/hardware, communication/notification systems
  • Replace large overhead doors at 1997 maintenance bay addition
  • Replace roof on 1997 maintenance bay addition
  • Integrate CO monitoring and miscellaneous panel board upgrades
  • Miscellaneous site work to include extension of paving at bus parking and dumpster pad

The district also plans to use $1,995,000 from the State Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014 for a new public address and visual notification system, which includes $780,000 in elementary school, $645,000 in the middle school and $570,000 in the high school.

Lions Club sausage is a sell-out for scholarship in honor of John Keding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2021 at 5:38 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jake Stinson, right, and Mark Johnson cook sausage today outside the former Keding Automotive, 309 East  Ave. The sausage sales went towards a memorial scholarship in honor of John Keding, who owned the auto repair shop for 46 years at the location and also was a long-time member of the Lions Club.

Today’s event also was an opportunity for people to share memories of Keding, who passed away at age 85 on January 18, 2021.

The Lions Club members, friends and family wore buttons with Keding’s photo.

The sausage sold out, and Lions also cooked many hot dogs for customers. Many people stopped by to make donations for the scholarship that will go to someone pursuing a career as a mechanic or in the trades.

Dan Conrad, left, and Kevin Howard take a turn on the grill. Keding was a member of the Lions Club for 52 years.

Car show at Bullard returns with nearly 100 much-loved vehicles

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2021 at 5:08 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – An 8th annual car show was held today at Bullard Park in a benefit for Supportive Care of Orleans County, formerly known as Hospice of Orleans County. The top photo shows at 1971 Chevelle with a skunk theme.

There were 77 cars, many of them vintage models, in the car show which also included live music, a 50/50 raffle, food and a cash cactus.

Becky Karls organized the event, which include Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes  as a major sponsor.

This 1981 Delorean had a “Back to the Future” theme, including a life-size model of Dr. E. Brown or “Doc” from the famous movie series. Doc was the inventor of the first time machine, built out of a 1981 DeLorean sports car.

Ed Doran of Medina brought a 1968 Chevy Pickup that he has painted and decorated as a tribute to the 343 firefighters who were killed during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Doran used to be a firefighter for Medina, Shelby and East Shelby. Mark Weld, an Middleport artist, did the artwork on the truck.

The older cars were shined up for the car show, and many included whimsical stuffed animals or other decorations, including this panther resting on an engine.

Many of the vehicles also displayed American flags on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.

Lions Club selling sausage on Sept. 11 in benefit for Keding scholarship

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 September 2021 at 9:23 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: John Keding is shown outside Keding Automotive in Albion when he celebrated his 80th birthday on Sept. 2, 2015.

ALBION – The Albion Lions Club will be serving sausage on Sept. 11 at the former Keding Automotive at 309 East  Ave. with the proceeds going towards a new scholarship in memory of John Keding.

The scholarship will go to a graduating senior pursuing a career in the trades. Keding worked for 70 years a mechanic and owned Keding Automotive for 46 of those years.

He passed away at age 85 on January 18, 2021. He retired in August 2020.

Keding also was a member of the Albion Lions Club for 52 years. He enjoyed cooking sausage with the Lions at many community events, including the Strawberry Festival. Many of the Lions will be tending the grill from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, outside the former auto repair business on Route 31.

The event will also be a chance to celebrate Keding’s life. His daughter, Christine Buongiorne, encourages the community to “bring your appetites and your stories!”

The Lions Club expects the scholarship will become an annual award for a graduating senior.

Albion FD awarded $37,190 grant from FEMA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 September 2021 at 11:31 am

Department will purchase thermal imaging cameras and combination spreader/cutter rescue tool

ALBION – The Albion Fire Department has been approved for a $37,150 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The department plans to use the money to purchase three thermal imaging cameras and one combination spreader/cutter rescue tool.

The funding was announced by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and was among $11,499,044 in federal funding for fire departments across New York State.

The funding will be used to provide protective gear, training, and supplies to emergency personnel across more than 90 fire departments. This federal funding was administered through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).

“From the peak of the pandemic to now, our brave firefighters have always been on the front lines, risking their lives to protect their communities,” Schumer said in a news release. “These courageous first responders deserve all the federal support possible to help them do their jobs. I will always fight to bring more federal resources to support our heroic firefighters, and I’m proud to deliver this funding so New York’s fire departments have essential support they need as they keep New Yorkers safe in emergencies.”

“New York’s firefighters have worked tirelessly throughout the Covid pandemic to protect our communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding will provide them with the equipment, training, and resources they need to stay safe as they respond to emergency situations. I will continue fighting to ensure that New York’s fire departments have what they need when they enter the line of duty.”

Hoag Library will extend hours with new school year starting next week

Posted 2 September 2021 at 10:47 am

Press Release, Hoag Library

ALBION – New school year, new library hours! Hoag Library is extending hours to accommodate the needs of Albion Central School and GCC students.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Library will offer the following hours:

  • Monday to Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Students can reserve meeting rooms for study space during and outside of building hours. Visit for reservation forms.

Computers and laptops with internet access are available for up to 90 minutes per day, and free Wi-Fi is available to use with your own device.

The library requests the use of masks by staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status. Children under two years old are exempt from this requirement.

Hoag Library looks forward to welcoming back students!

Lockstone owners recognized as Small Business of the Month

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 September 2021 at 9:49 am

Wedding and events site seen as draw to community

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – State Sen. Rob Ortt on Tuesday presented a “Senate District 62 Small Business of the Month” award to Natasha Wasuck and her husband John Hernandez. They are shown inside the Lockstone at North Main Street, next to the Erie Canal. Natasha and John’s daughter Ephy joined them.

Wasuck and Hernandez bought the site three years ago. It was a former auto repair business. They have transformed the site into a wedding and events center. They also use the front part of the building for Tinsel, an ice cream business that opened in June 2019. The site also includes “The Kitchen,” a private event room used for celebrations and community meetings.

The Lockstone has hosted eight weddings so far this year and has 16 more scheduled for 2021, and 30 next year. The 30 weddings next year are expected to draw at least 3,000 people to Albion.

Ortt first toured the site on July 16 to see some of the locations receiving funds in Main Street grant from the state. Ortt said he was impressed by the couple’s vision for the property and their work in giving the building from 1875 a new purpose.

“It’s really cool what you’ve done with this spot,” Ortt told Wasuck and Hernandez.

Ortt previously served as mayor of North Tonawanda where he said small business owners were the key to driving innovation to the downtown. He praised Wasuck and Hernandez, who are from Brockport, for seeing the potential in the Lockstone location. He said “fresh eyes” coming into a community sometimes see what long-time residents miss.

Photos courtesy of the Lockstone: A bride gets ready in the bridal suite at the Lockstone, which features an eyebrow window looking out on Main Street and the lift bridge over the Erie Canal.

Wasuck has been involved in the Albion Merchants Association, helping to plan community events. She sees Albion’s connection to the original Santa Claus School, led by the late Charles Howard from 1937 to 1966, as a way to distinguish the community from other canal towns.

She tapped into that Santa history by naming the ice cream business “Tinsel.” She also led the effort to have a Santa mural painted next to the Lockstone at the Pennysaver building at 170 North Main St. She also raised money for a soon-to-be planed Christmas tree on the Courthouse lawn.

Ortt sees the historic canal downtown like Albion as irreplaceable treasures.

‘I’ve always felt people want to be in these downtowns,” he said. “You can’t replicate this.”

But he acknowledged it can be tough to make money these days for small businesses. That’s why he started his monthly award in February, wanting to highlight a business in his district, which includes Niagara, Orleans and part of western Monroe.

“My whole district is along the Erie Canal, from North Tonawanda to Spencerport,” Ortt said. “The canal is your ticket to development.”

He said Covid-19 restrictions made it even more challenging for business owners. Many had to close to in-person sales or face reduced capacity. There have been supply-chain disruptions and a shortage of workers.

“Covid has really emphasized the challenge of running a small business,” Ortt said. “These businesses never had a playbook for how to operate in a pandemic and then to have to deal with the restrictions.”

The Lockstone owners also created a grove for outdoor weddings on Orchard Street, a short walk from the Lockstone.

Wasuck and Hernandez said they feel more convinced the weddings and events site in Albion was a good choice. Most of the weddings have been couples from either Rochester or Buffalo, who like the location between those two cities.

The couples like being by the Erie Canal for their wedding, and Wasuck and Hernandez give the couples free rein of the facility, allowing them to decorate however they want and to bring in bartenders, caterers, DJ’s and other vendors.

The couples also like the industrial vibe at the Lockstone.

“It’s a unique location,” Wasuck said. “It’s not a golf course or a rustic barn. The people like it here. They are having a good time.”

Wasuck has been successful marketing the site to couples and her husband has done much of the construction work himself.

“We see this as an opportunity to ‘create the community you want to be a part of’ here in Albion,” Wasuck said. “We recognize the importance of the Erie Canal for tourism and appreciate the unique history this village has to offer.”

Backpacks, school supplies available at Community Action

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 31 August 2021 at 7:42 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: From left, Katrina Chaffee, director of operations, reporting and community service at Community Action, case manager Michelle Figueroa and Annette Finch, director of public relations and fundraising, pose with school supplies and backpacks donated for their annual backpack giveaway. Deadline to register is 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

ALBION – Community Action in Orleans County will be taking applications for free school supplies through the end of business on Tuesday. The office closes at 3:30 p.m.

The giveaway is an annual event at Community Action, which normally provides free backpacks and school supplies to 50 to 60 families. This year, however, applications have been light, according to Michelle Figueroa, case manager.

She and Katrina Chaffee, director of operations, reporting and community service, think it is because families have been uncertain as to what the schools were going to require or even if there would be in-person school due to Covid. Local school districts will all have in-person education without a hybrid or remote schedule.

Community Action has received piles of backpacks and school supplies donated by the West Barre United Methodist Church. Others have been purchased through a grant from the Emma Reed Webster Foundation.

Applications will be accepted at the Albion office at 409 East State St. for students in the Lyndonville, Medina and Albion school districts. Students in the Holley and Kendall school districts may apply at the Eastern Orleans Community Center, 75 Public Square, Holley.

Supplies can be picked up Sept. 1, 2 and 3.

Applicants must bring proof of residence, proof of income and identification (Social Security card or birth certificate) for all children in the household. Income guidelines apply. More information is available by calling 589-5605 or 638-6395.

Albion grad follows dream to Harvard

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2021 at 9:34 pm

Nolberto Martinez Maya, son of farmworkers, wants to serve others as a physician

Provided photo: Nolberto Martinez Maya graduated from Albion in June and now is at Harvard University, where he is majoring in molecular genetics and sociology as part of a pre-med track.

ALBION – A 2021 Albion graduate is on campus at Harvard University, pursuing his goal of a career in medicine.

Nolberto Martinez Maya graduated from Albion on June 25. He was the class vice president. He also earned his associate’s degree from Genesee Community College in May, juggling an extra full load of courses the past year in high school and at GCC, taking all of them online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He took the GCC classes and earned a 4.0 GPA. At Albion, he didn’t want to coast through to the finish, even when many students backed off with their academics during the pandemic. He wanted tough classes, and completed AP (Advanced Placement) in biology, calculus and statistics, as well as the others at GCC.

“It was pretty challenging,” he said. “I’m not going to lie.”

Nolberto, 18, will be double majoring in molecular genetics and sociology at Harvard, and minoring in Spanish. He is on a pre-med path. He wants to be a surgeon or work as a physician.

He is the first Albion graduate to go directly to Harvard since Michael Patterson in 2013.

“I know it is uncommon for someone from Orleans County to go to Harvard,” Nolberto said. “I wanted to go medical and shoot for the best medical colleges.”

On April 6 it was “Ivy Day” when the elite colleges and universities notify applicants if they have been accepted. The schools send out the acceptance – or rejection – notifications at 7 p.m. that day. Sometimes the applicants are waitlisted, and still have a chance of being accepted.

Nolberto applied at eight colleges and universities. He already knew he had been accepted by the University of Rochester. But he also tried for several others.

He opened up the messages from Yale, Cornell and Columbia – they all were rejections. Johns Hopkins had him waitlisted.

Nolberto checked the application portal from Harvard, the private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Mass.

Nolberto took a deep breath and opened the applicant portal. He was greeted with computer-generated confetti on his screen and a message, “You have been accepted into the Class of 2025.”

He felt immediate elation.

“I screamed,” he said. “I was so happy.”

Nolberto will be part of an exclusive Class of 2025. Harvard had its lowest admissions rate ever – accepting only 3.43 percent or 1,968 students out of the 57,435 who applied.

He contacted his close friends in a group call and they joined in the celebration. He will be attending on a full ride scholarship.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Nolberto Martinez Maya accepts his diploma from Albion Central School during commencement on June 25.

Nolberto is the son of his father Honorato and mother Inocencia. They work trimming fruit trees and grafting them. Nolberto is the youngest of his siblings, who include Everardo, Lorena and Honorato.

Nolberto was born at the former Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport. He attended Pre-K at the ABCD Agri-Business Child Development center in Holley. He then went to Albion from kindergarten through grade 12.

He helped his parents often at fruit farms, especially with grafting trees, where branches from two types of apple trees are cut and tied together to produce a different variety. He helped plant many of the trees and said he feels pride when he goes by them a few years later and sees fruit on the trees.

There is lots of biology involved in grafting trees and working on farms. Biology is a passion for Nolberto. In 8th grade, he realized math and science were his strongest subjects. Near the end of that school year, he also was notified he was excelling academically. That’s when he found out he was ranked among the top 10 of his classmates.

When he was in eighth grade, a teacher had him and his classmates write a letter to their future selves. Nolberto, in his letter, urged his future self to “get the best grades possible and the be the best person possible.”

He made a list of elite universities and put Harvard on the list for his future education. He hadn’t thought of that letter until it was given back to the students near the end of their senior year.

Nolberto said some of his close friends pushed each other to apply to superior schools. That trio of friends encouraged him to aim very high. Nolberto said he is proud of his friends for also getting into top-ranked colleges. That includes Aisha Drisdom, the class salutatorian who is at Carnegie Mellon University; Ashley Ames, the class valedictorian who is at Geneseo State College; and Claire Squicciarini, who is at Alfred University.

Nolberto knows he has his work cut out for him at Harvard. It will be a steady journey, with years of effort to reach his goal. That is fine with him, a diploma that won’t come easy.

He credited his Albion biology teacher Sandy Climenhaga for instilling a love of the sciences, and for emphasizing students should try “hard things” even if it might knock down their GPA.

Climenhaga is encouraging, but also offers feedback on where students missed the mark, and what they need to do to improve.

Not all students want to hear that, or to see the teacher’s red ink on their papers. Nolberto welcomed the input from Climenhaga.

When he was accepted from Harvard, she was the first teacher he contacted with the news.

“In order to achieve at this type of level, it has to be innate,” Climenhaga said in an interview. “There has to be internally a drive to learn and I have seen that in Nolberto.”

Nolberto Martinez Maya (left), vice president of the Class of 2021, is near the front of the processional from the high school to the football stadium during commencement on June 25. He is followed by Olivia Morrison, class secretary; and Annalise Steier, class treasurer.

Climenhaga has her students in AP biology read two books, and Nolberto said both were influential in him wanting to pursue science. Despite a very busy courseload, Climenhaga had her students read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book about a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951 and were used to develop the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization. The book highlights bioethics, race and medicine. Nolberto wrote about this book in his essay to Harvard.

He and his classmates also read The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story, a nonfiction book in 1994 about Ebola and other viruses.

Climenhaga said the two books are “real stories about real people.”

She praised Nolberto for an appetite for learning, and for wanting to educate himself and be of service to others.

“He is such a sweet, mild mannered kid,” Climenhaga said. “He is very selfless and always has been. He really wants to do good. He is a student who makes his community better and wants to pursue a career to make his community better.”

She would like to see more students take the more challenging AP classes at Albion and GCC courses while in high school.

“Hopefully it will encourage kids to get out of their comfort zone and try something hard,” she said about Nolberto’s enrollment at Harvard. “He had a goal and he put everything into it. You have to give him high marks for that. It wasn’t easy.”

Scaled-down music fest draws a crowd to Bullard

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2021 at 4:12 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The “Rock the Park” festival returned in a scaled-down format today at Bullard Psrk. The event, renamed “Albion Summer Festival 6.5,” featured two bands today and they performed at the new amphitheater at Bullard Park.

The top photo shows the band, Vette, performing “Nothin’ But A Good Time” by Poison. Vette includes, front, from left: Travis Mackie, Kole Moore and Alex Fitzak. Shelby Starr is the drummer.

There were 18 different food and craft vendors, including Pamela Jenks of Pretty Sweet Bakery in far back. The spot in foreground is Red Check Rustic.

The festival was cancelled last year due to Covid-19 restrictions, but returned today when Albion and Medina played youth football games.

Kyle Webb, right, and Matt Hollenbeck cook hamburgers at the Masonic Lodge’s food stand. The Masons will be at all of the Albion home football games this year at Bullard Park.

The splash park at Bullard was a busy place on a hot summer day today.