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Albion honor grads urged to wade into deep waters

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2019 at 9:02 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Bryce Pritchard, one of 39 Albion seniors with a GPA at 90 or above, is presented his honor cords from his parents Lisa and Brad Pritchard. The Albion academic honors convocation dinner was held at Hickory Ridge Country Club.

Elissa Good Smith, a 1998 Albion graduate, addresses this year’s honor grads. She has earned a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy from Niagara University and works as the Pre-K to 6 grade principal at Lyndonville.

ALBION – The top-ranked students in Albion’s Class of 2019 were recognized on Monday during the 11th annual academic honors convocation dinner.

The school district invites students and their families to the annual dinner for seniors with cumulative grade point averages at 90.0 or above. This year’s class has 39 students at that level. They were all presented certificates and honor cords.

The dinner’s tradition includes welcoming back a recent honors graduate who has attained professional success.

Elissa Good Smith, a 1998 Albion grad, addressed the group. She works as the PreK-6 principal at Lyndonville. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish at the University of Mount Vernon, master’s degrees in Educational Leadership from St. Bonaventure University and Communications from SUNY Brockport. She then earned her Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy from Niagara University.

Smith said she dabbled in many activities at Albion, from running track to cheerleading to being in the band, changing her instrument in ninth grade from flute to bassoon.

She thought she would be a minister. But Smith has a love for languages and made that her focus in college.

She told students to go from the shallow waters to a deep lake, and really immerse themselves in something they are passionate about.

She didn’t intend on a career in education, but Albion needed a Spanish teacher when she was right out of college. Ron Sodoma was the superintendent at the time and he urged her to apply.

She loved the job.

Jeff Evoy, the late Medina school district superintendent, was one of her teachers at Albion. When she was comfortable in her role as a teacher, Evoy urged her to pursue school administration.

That prompted her to “swim a little deeper” into her career as an educator.

She thanked her “Purple Eagle family” for their encouragement. That network will be there for the new Albion grads, too, Smith said.

She urged students to reach out to their Albion teachers, coaches, school counselors, even after graduation when they are at a crossroads or a time of doubt in college or their careers.

They offer buckets of water, helping the new grads to turn puddles into lakes, and wade deeper into their career and life paths, Smith said.

The Albion students graduating with a cumulative weighted GPA of 90.0 percent or higher include: Alexa Adams, Malory Adams, Evan Allen, Trinity Allen, Haylie Allis, Jocelyn Bedard, McKenna Boyer, Morgan Brower, Harrison Brown, Addison Christ, Jace Conn, Jessy Cruz, Kirk Ellison, Jacob Ettinger, Delaney Ford, Anna Geldard, Angelica Genno, Avalina Hand, Brylie Hapeman, Susan He, April Henchen, Kaylyn Holman, Arella Ives, Kate Krieger, Matthew Kovaleski, Natalie Lathrop, Enoch Martin, Emma Mathes, Madison Narburgh, Sierra Newton, Devin Olles, Emma Papponetti, Tess Pettit, Bryce Pritchard, Marie Reynolds, Jessica Schleede, Kirsten Struble, Chantel VanDeGenachte, and Hannah VanEpps.

Jacob Ettinger was among the 39 students recognized at the academic honors convocation dinner.

Trinity Allen is congratulated by the Board of Education for her academic success.

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National Night Out planned for Bullard on Aug. 6

Photo by Tom Rivers: Robert Wagner, an Albion police officer, did a demonstration with Rex, the department’s K9, during National Night Out on Aug. 7, 2018. Wagner had Rex sit and show other obedience. Rex also found a ball that one of the children hid in the field as part of the demonstration. Bullard will be under construction for much of the summer, but that work is expected to be done in time for National Night Out. If it isn’t, the event may shift to the elementary school parking lot.

Posted 20 May 2019 at 11:51 am

Press Release, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni

ALBION – The Albion Police Department and Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition are co-organizers of the Orleans County National Night Out and are proud to give an update on this year’s event that will take place on Aug. 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Bullard Park on East Avenue. This is the fifth year of our event and it is going to be largest so far.

National Night Out started in the 1980s as a way to bring law enforcement and citizens together on the same night each year. We have expanded on that principle and put together an event that focuses on bringing many agencies and organizations together on the annual National Night Out date each year. Participants in the event will include law enforcement, fire agencies, EMS responders, civic organizations and other groups that will be providing activities, demonstrations and giveaways.

Our mission is simple. We want an event where families can come for a night and be entertained at no cost and eat for free in an environment that is free of violence, alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Our goal is to have those that attend walk away with a positive contact that can assist with any needs a person may need. We strive to make this event a one-day event that lasts all year long.

This year we have been very fortunate to have had many organizations not only willing to participate in the event but we have received donations and support from many local organizations and businesses. This year’s event features free hot dogs and water, child seat inspections with free replacements, a bike rodeo with bikes on hand, helmet giveaways, and much more.

We are very excited to doing a “Battle of Belts” competition again this year to promote vehicle passenger safety. The competition entails teams of 4 who compete to see who is the fastest getting into car and fastening their seatbelts. Each contestant then must switch seats and again fasten their seat belts. The time ends when each person has sat in each seat in the car. This event is fun to participate in and even more fun to watch. There is still time to enter and details can be found on the event Facebook Page (click here).

We are always looking for organizations that wish to be a part of the event or those who wish to donate. Any group that wants to be a part of this great community event is asked to contact us for more details.

For more information contact Chief Nenni at the Albion Police Department 585-589-5627, or Pat Crowley at 585-331-8732,

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Lots of recognition for Albion, Lyndonville-Medina school musicals at Stars of Tomorrow

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kate Krieger starred as Cinderella in Albion High School’s production of Into the Woods, which was named an outstanding musical in the annual Stars of Tomorrow competition.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2019 at 4:02 pm

ROCHESTER – Two musical productions by schools in Orleans County received lots of accolades Thursday night at the Stars of Tomorrow competition in Rochester, which recognizes the top school musicals in the Rochester area.

Albion and Lyndonville-Medina both won several awards. Albion, which competes with many large suburban schools in Division B, performed Into the Woods on March 29-30 and Lyndonville-Medina, in Division D, performed Sister Act from March 22-24.

Albion was recognized with the following awards:

• Outstanding Overall Musical

• Outstanding Production Crew

• Outstanding Orchestra

Laiken Ricker, left, as Milky Way and Nate Grammatico as Jack were both recognized by Stars of Tomorrow.

• Outstanding supporting actor for Nate Grammatico as Jack

• Outstanding supporting actress with Myleigh Miller as Little Red Riding Hood

Myleigh Miller was named an outstanding supporting actress in her role as Little Red Riding Hood, shown here in a scene with the Wolf, played by Zach Kilner.

• Adjudicator’s Tip of the Hat award to Laiken Ricker for her portrayal of Milky White

• Special Recognition to April Henchen (actress), Morgan Brower (costume design) and stage crew/production team members Dan Grabowski, Ashley Ames, Aisha Drisdom and Kyle Sidari.

Enoch Martin performed the role of the Baker for Albion. He is featured in round 2 of Stars of Tomorrow next week.

• In addition, Enoch Martin, who had the lead role as the Baker, advances to round 2 of the Stars at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are free and available at the door. Martin is hoping to earn a spot competing at the NYC Jimmy Awards. He also has the opportunity to be chosen as “Fan Favorite” earning him 4 box seat tickets to the National Tour premiere of the new Donna Summer musical. To vote for him, text SOT12 to 75327. People can vote every 24 hours in that contest. Nate Grammatico also was nominated but decided not to be in that competition.

Layna Viloria, second from right in front, portrays Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act. Deloris is a nightclub singer who is sent to a convent in hiding after she witnesses someone being killed. She takes over the choir and the nuns respond to her high-energy style.

Lyndonville-Medina won the following awards for Sister Act:

• Outstanding student pit orchestra

• Outstanding acting ensemble

• Tip of the hat for Qasim Huzair, Sawyer Wilson, Anna Lewis and Sarah Cochrane

• Rising star awards to Layne Hodgins and Elizabeth Whipple

Sawyer Wilson, who played the role of a dancing custodian, was recognized for his efforts on the stage.

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Albion students recognized for Strawberry Festival poster designs

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2019 at 7:39 am

Photo courtesy of Deb Boyer

ALBION – The Albion Rotary Club on Thursday recognized three Albion students for their poster designs for the upcoming Strawberry Festival, which this year has a theme celebrating the lift bridges in the community.

Evan Allen had the winning design, which will be featured in posters and other promotions for the festival on June 7-8.

Pictured from left include Nicolina Creasey, second place; Evan Allen, first place; Leonel Rosario, third place; Don Bishop, chairman of the Strawberry Festival planning committee; and Richard Remley, Rotary president.

The Strawberry Festival is in its 33rd year and includes music, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, a big parade on June 8, a 5K and 8K race, and many other events. For more on the festival, click here.

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Scouts put flags on veterans’ graves at Mount Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2019 at 9:22 am

Photo courtesy of Rick Merrill

ALBION – Scouts from the Albion area spent Wednesday evening putting American flags on the graves of soldiers at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Scouts in the Albion area every year place flags on veterans’ graves at Mount Albion and St. Joseph’s Cemetery, both on Route 31. The Scouts take care of the veterans at the two cemeteries before Memorial Day, which this year is May 27. The effort includes about 2,000 flags.

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Rain forces Albion to push back start of youth baseball season to June 1

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2019 at 10:53 pm

ALBION – Normally the Albion Midget League is well into its season but this year the six teams have only been on the field a few times for practice.

The season was scheduled to open on May 4 but was pushed back to May 18. Today, after a walk-through on the soggy Midget League Field behind the Albion Town Hall, opening day was pushed back two more weeks until June 1, nearly a month later than usual.

Dan Bartlett, coach of Sandstone Park, said the extra two weeks should ensure the six teams all get in enough practices to be ready for opening day.

After washouts on Monday and Tuesday, the teams hoped to practice today. But then the rains returned late this afternoon.

“Enough of this rain, enough,” Bartlett said.

Besides the muddy base paths, pitcher’s mound and batter’s box, the fields are so wet it’s hard to get a lawn mower out to cut the high grass.

The Albion Midget League, which started in 1956, will have an opening day ceremony at 11 a.m. on June 1, and all of the players – about 125 in the league – will be introduced at the Midget League Field. A ceremonial first pitch will be tossed and then it’s time to play ball.

June 1 also is the date for the annual chicken barbecue to benefit the league.

The season is slated to end with the championship game on July 20. The Barre Cubs have won the title the last four years. The other teams include Sandstone, St. Mary’s, the Vets, Rotary-Lions and Carlton.

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Albion plants a tree to celebrate its arbor commitment

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2019 at 3:34 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Village of Albion was joined by five seventh-graders today in planting a tree on South Clinton Street near McDonalds. Garric Winterkorn, left, and Willem DeRuysscher shovel dirt to plant the tree.

The seventh graders are pictured with Mayor Eileen Banker, who shared remarks during a tree-planting celebration.

Pictured from left include Willem DeRuysscher, Garric Winterkorn, Hannah Pahura, Julia Fuller, Mayor Eileen Banker and Mia Olles.

Hannah Pahura, one of the seventh-graders, also spoke about a tree’s worth, including offering shade, improving air quality, protecting topsoil, and providing shelter for many species of birds.

“When you plant a tree, you plant hope,” Pahura said.

Her father, Jay Pahura, is Albion’s DPW superintendent.

Tim Archer, the service learning teacher at Albion, helped organize today’s tree planting ceremony. The newly planted tree is a sugar maple.

The village is working to become a Tree City USA Community.

Albion is using a state grant to do a survey of all the village-owned trees. That initiative includes a tree management plan and will identify spots to plant new trees.

Julia Fuller shares a reflection about trees.

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Albion hires Jennifer Ashbery as new high school principal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2019 at 3:54 pm

Jennifer Ashbery

ALBION – The Board of Education has hired the next high school principal at Albion.

Jennifer Ashbery, the vice principal at the elementary school the past six years, will start as the high school leader on July 1.

She was one of two finalists interviewed by the Board of Education on Monday night.

Ashbery is a 1993 graduate of Albion. She worked as a fifth grade teacher for 14 years before shifting to administration six years ago.

“I’m just excited and honored,” she said today about her new position at the school district. “I see an opportunity to lead and be a positive influence.”

She said she will work with teachers and staff “where the overarching focus will be on students, helping them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.”

Ashbery said she has been fortunate to grow up and work at Albion Central School. She said her time as a student at the former Waterport Elementary School, from fourth to sixth grades, was particularly critical for her.

“That was really instrumental in developing a passion for education and teaching,” she said.

Ashbery has twin daughters who are currently sixth-graders at Albion.

The district currently has an interim principal following the resignation of Matthew Peterson. He left Albion in January to work as principal at Oakfield-Alabama Central School.

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Albion teachers press district for environmental assessment of elementary school

Photos by Tom Rivers: Albion elementary teacher Joyce Monacelli speaks during Monday’s Board of Education meeting and asks the district to be more open and cooperative with teachers as they seek answers whether staff have a high rate of breast cancer.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2019 at 9:56 am

Teachers concerned because many staff have been diagnosed with breast cancer

ALBION – The Albion Teachers Association told the Board of Education the district is moving too slowly in addressing teachers’ concerns whether there is a high incident of breast cancer in the elementary school and if the environment in the school is a culprit with the cancer.

“We’ve been stonewalled,” Chris Keller, ATA president, told the board during its meeting on Monday. “We’re not going away until this building is inspected by an impartial third party.”

The Teachers Association said the district needs to have an independent environmental assessment of the school to ensure that it is safe for staff and students.

That assessment is scheduled to happen on Sept. 23 by Nellie Brown, director of the Workplace Health and Safety Program for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She was at a Jan. 31 meeting at Albion, and spoke for more than an hour, outlining numerous chemicals that can be potential causes of breast cancer or endocrine disrupters.

She met with district custodial and maintenance staff on April 12 for a “Tools for Schools” training and will be back on June 10 for a similar training that will be available for teachers and other staff. That training includes some air sampling but isn’t an extensive building investigation.

Keller, the ATA president, said teachers were upset they weren’t notified or welcome to be part of the April 12 training. Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said Brown wants to do the training with small groups of up to six people at a time. The district first wanted to focus on custodial and maintenance staff for the training.

James Bowers, an epidemiologist who studies diseases for the state Department of Health, will likely be back in the fall to study if the elementary school shows a high rate of breast cancer. If the study shows that, Bowers said the report wouldn’t determine a “smoking gun” that would be the cause of the cancer.

Bonnewell was faulted by two board members, Elissa Nesbitt and Kathy Harling, for not at least letting the ATA know that Brown would be at the district on April 12 for the training.

Bonnewell apologized and said he would strive for better communication going forward. He said he has been pushing for the building investigation by Nellie Brown.

The district superintendent also has brought in James Bowers, an epidemiologist who studies diseases for the state Department of Health. He attended Monday’s board meeting and said he expects to start a study in the fall, looking at the history of people who have worked in the elementary school who were diagnosed with breast cancer or other serious health issues.

If that report shows a high incidence of breast cancer, Bowers cautioned the study wouldn’t be able to pinpoint a specific cause. He has completed many of these studies at other schools and communities.

“We can’t ever find a smoking gun,” he said.

His focus will be determining if there is a higher, lower or average rate of breast cancer at the elementary school compared to the rate in the community’s population.

Angie Wolfe, a kindergarten teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, said the preliminary data gathered by teachers shows there is a high incidence. The ATA has counted 25 teachers and staff who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. That includes cafeteria workers, clerical staff and teacher aides, as well as teachers.

The 25 cases is up from the 22 that were presented to the Board in January. Wolfe said more people have stepped forward.

The diagnosed cases include nine in the past five years and 16 in the past 10 years.

Wolfe said she is “disheartened and very discouraged” at the pace in finding answers about why there seems to be a high incidence of breast cancer.

“In presenting the information to the district office I was hoping compassion would be shown and action would be taken,” she told the board.

Margy Brown, the board president, said the district is committing to the environmental study and ensuring a safe school for students and staff. She said the board and administration want a good working relationship with the ATA as they pursue answers.

Keller wants to see the timeframe speeded up.

“We don’t have several years to wait to identify if we have a serious problem in the elementary school,” Keller told the board.

He would like to see the building assessment done before Sept. 23, the date scheduled with Nellie Brown.

Nesbitt and Harling, two of the board members, agreed the process “is taking a long time.”

“I am for doing whatever it takes to make this right,” Nesbitt said. “We owe it to our staff and our people.”

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Albion Board of Education vice president resigns

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2019 at 9:02 am

ALBION – The vice president of the Albion Board of Education has resigned, citing a busy schedule that makes it difficult to devote time to the board.

Steve LaLonde

Steven LaLonde was elected three years ago. He leaves with two years remaining on the term.

“I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve on the board of this fine organization for the past three years, and I offer my best wishes for its continued success,” LaLonde wrote in a  May 8 resignation letter.

LaLonde was viewed as a likely successor to Margy Brown as president of the board.

LaLonde has a doctoral degree in statistics, measurement and evaluation from Syracuse University. He is retired as a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. He and his late wife, Kathy, raised three children who graduated from Albion.

LaLonde has been busy in his retirement.

“I find myself traveling more and more often, and am less able to devote the proper attention and focus to the very important matters of the school board,” he wrote in his letter.

LaLonde’s resignation comes too late for the position to be on the ballot in the May 21 election.

There are four candidates – David Sidari, Joyce Riley, Gregg Boose Sr. and Linda Weller – running for two five-year seats on the board.

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