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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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Lyndonville celebrates becoming a Tree City USA

Staff Reports Posted 4 May 2019 at 9:43 am

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – The newly formed Tree Committee of the Village of Lyndonville celebrated being named as a Tree City USA by planting a tree in the front of the Lyndonville Central School on Friday. Several students, members of the Tree Committee and DPW were there to celebrate.

People in the photo include Sawyer Wilson, Savannah Poler, Shantel Benedict, Faith Chaffee, Allyson Deslatte, Tamara Huzair, Tyler Coyle, Mason Boyd, Elizabeth Whipple, Dustin Solomon, Patrick Hargrave, Amber Grabowski, Jenahlee Reimer, RitaJane Isaacson, Mayor John Belson (far left), Ginny Hughes, Keith McKinney, Aimee Chaffee, Carla Woodworth and Teri Woodworth.

The tree was planted near the Main Street side of the school. Future plantings in the village are being planned. Tree Committee members were assisted by Robert Bow, head groundskeeper for the school; Mayor John Belson; and Terry Woodworth, superintendent of the Department of Public Works. Residents are encouraged to contact the village office if they would like to be involved in future plans.

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Lyndonville school district recognized with school safety excellence award

Posted 30 April 2019 at 9:27 am

Press Release, Utica National Insurance Group

LYNDONVILLE – Lyndonville Central School District is one of 156 school districts and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York State to receive the Utica National Insurance Group’s School Safety Excellence Award for 2018 at the Titanium with Honors level.

The honor is presented annually and recognizes school districts’ safety efforts as they work to help keep students, staff and visitors safe. Lyndonville Central School District received its award at Utica National’s 39th annual school safety seminar at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel in Batavia, one of seven such seminars the company hosts in the state.

Lyndonville officials accepted a certificate to commemorate the district’s safety efforts and a $500 award for use in furthering those efforts from Utica National representatives.

Utica National’s School Safety Excellence Award Program has three levels (titanium, platinum, and gold) in which schools can earn a meritorious distinction by meeting specific criteria to enhance overall safety. Through the program, schools with their own transportation, schools with contract transportation, and BOCES are evaluated. Categories covered include bullying prevention programs, playground safety and other areas, and are measured using specific, quantifiable surveys.

“Safety and health concerns continue to be a priority in our school districts,” said Brian Saville, Resident Senior Vice President in Utica National’s Educational Institutions Unit. “Districts that go ‘above and beyond’ to provide a safe, healthy and focused culture for learning are to be applauded, and we’re pleased to count Lyndonville Central School District among them.”

Saville noted that, beyond the recognition itself, an added benefit of following the safety program is the chance to pinpoint specific threats to safety. “The time to address those threats is before a loss happens, which really helps contribute to the safety culture that districts are working toward.”

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Lyndonville starts work on bigger parking lot behind school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2019 at 9:16 am

Photos by Cheryl Wertman

LYNDONVILLE – Construction has started on expanding the parking lot behind Lyndonville Central School. This work is part of a $10.7 million capitol project which includes a new roof, air-conditioning in 95 percent of the school campus, upgraded kitchen and dining area, major improvements to the locker rooms, and conversion of the elementary school library into two classrooms.

The parking lot will be expanded and the soccer field will also get new drainage and other improvements.

The expanded parking lot will allow for more efficient pickup and drop off of students.

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Apex won’t be submitting application for Lighthouse Wind this year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 April 2019 at 2:39 pm

Yates, Somerset town officials call on company to abandon project

YATES – Apex Clean Energy announced today it won’t be submitting an application this year to build 47 wind turbines in the towns of Yates and Somerset.

The company isn’t giving up on the project, which Apex says “has the potential to provide significant economic development investment to the Somerset and Yates communities.”

The company also is closing its office in Barker and consolidating its Western New York operations in Albion at 49 North Main St. Apex also will continue to keep its website active for Lighthouse Wind.

“Though we are not able to offer a more specific application timeline, we will provide stakeholders with updated information regarding permitting actions, adjustments in design, and anticipated scheduling as that information becomes available,” said Cat Mosely, Apex’s public engagement manager. “We look forward to identifying the proper time to advance those benefits to the region.”

Apex last October presented a layout for the turbines with 39 in Somerset and eight in Yates.

Paul Williamson, an Apex project manager, in January said at an Albion meeting the company expected to submit its application to the state for Lighthouse Wind this summer. The company also is working on a project for 33 turbines in Barre.

The company’s Lighthouse Wind project has been bitterly opposed by many in Yates and Somerset, who said turbines over 600 feet in height were way out of scale with a rural community by the lake. Residents also have concerns the turbines would affect public health with noise and shadow flicker, and also negatively impact wildlife and property values.

‘We lived under the dark cloud of this Virginia-based company’s ill-sited industrial wind proposal for five years,’ – Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon

Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon issued a statement today, calling on Apex to remove the proposal from the Article 10 process, where projects are reviewed by a state Siting Board.

“We lived under the dark cloud of this Virginia-based company’s ill-sited industrial wind proposal for five years,” Simon said. “By announcing they are closing their Lighthouse Wind office in Barker, Apex is signaling their confirmation of rumors flying across the Town of Yates the past seven days that they are no longer pursuing this disruptive project.”

Dan Engert, Somerset town supervisor, also has been vocal opponent of the project, saying Apex has caused “extreme division and turmoil” in the community.

Engert wants Apex to abandon the project, and is asking Gov. Cuomo and the Siting Board to tell Apex “enough is enough.”

Simon echoed Engert’s call for Apex to “step away once and for all.” Simon said Mark Goodwin, Apex CEO, should “do the right thing out of professional courtesy — cancel Lighthouse Wind.”

Save Ontario Shores, a group of local citizens, also has been steadfast in opposing the project. Save Ontario Shores issued this statement today:

“We renew our call for Apex to end this project immediately. Today’s announcement causes further havoc, anxiety and unrest among residents who have clearly said they oppose installation of these massive industrial wind turbines. The turmoil Apex has caused in our communities is despicable and is the absolute opposite of corporate responsibility. Apex is not saying they’re pulling this project; once again, they’re simply pushing it back, as they’ve been doing for years. Apex refuses to admit this project is done. It’s time to end it, once and for all.”

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Lyndonville has App with school events, news

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 April 2019 at 8:19 am

LYNDONVILLE – The school district is urging the community to download a free App that has information on school programs.

The district’s App has a live feed of news, events, athletics and a staff directory.

The district also runs active Facebook and Twitter pages to try to keep the community informed about activities at the district.

The district debuted the new App in August. It can be downloaded at the App Store or Google Play.

Click here for more information. (Check lower right corner)

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Lyndonville, Medina will have June 17 shared sports open house

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2019 at 10:40 am

Medina welcomes more Lyndonville students in Mustang band

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Medina Mustang Band performs Sept. 22 during its home show at the Fall Festival of Bands.

LYNDONVILLE – Medina and Lyndonville have set June 17 for an open house on the shared sports programs, given students and parents from both school districts a chance to meet coaches, athletic directors and other school leaders from both districts.

Lyndonville will host the open house in the evening on June 17. The time hasn’t been set yet.

The two districts starting sharing some programs six years ago, first with boys varsity soccer.

That has expanded to eight shared programs. Lyndonville hosts the boys volleyball, girls varsity soccer and the musical program.

Medina hosts a merged boys varsity soccer, varsity football, cross country, the marching band and swimming.

Both school districts in February approved new four-year agreements for the shared programs.

District leaders met last week to discuss an increased outreach for the shared programs. They decided to have an open house on June 17. Besides coaches and athletic directors, the open house will include the district superintendents, leaders of the Board of Education, and the Sports Boosters from both districts, said Jason Smith, Lyndonville district superintendent.

He would like there to be an annual open house, with the districts rotating as the host site.

Smith discussed the shared sports open house during Monday’s Board of Education meeting in Lyndonville.

He also said Jim Steele, leader of the Medina marching band, would be meeting with Lyndonville students this week to welcome them to be part of the band this fall. Lyndonville usually has had two to five students in the Medina band. Steele would be happy to welcome more Lyndonville students in the program, Smith said.

Medina band leaders also will have a parent meeting in May in Lyndonville.

Lyndonville has a marching band that performs in the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades. Medina’s band performs in many competitions during the fall and spring.

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Lyndonville school tax increase drops to 1%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2019 at 8:18 am

More state aid, joint bus contract help contain tax impact

Photo by Tom Rivers: Joe DiPassio Jr., Lyndonville school district business administrator, goes over the proposed $14.1 million budget on Monday.

LYNDONVILLE – The school district last month was projecting a 2 percent tax increase for the next school budget.

However, the district business administrator shared good news with the Board of Education on Monday. State aid came in higher than projected, and a joint busing contract also will save Lyndonville money.

Those factors are resulting in a budget with a 1 percent tax increase. Lyndonville also won’t have to use as much money from reserve funds, giving the district a bigger cushion in the future with those accounts.

The budget includes 5 new full-time positions, with 2 full-time special education teachers, a full-time elementary intervention teacher at $52,000; and two full-time aides at $50,000.

The Board of Education on Monday adopted a proposed $14,171,700 budget that will go before voters on May 21 from noon to 8 p.m. The budget increases spending by $165,000 or 1.2 percent.

The 2019-20 budget will rely on $4,352,341 in the tax levy, which is up 1 percent or $43,092 from this year’s budget.

The district is projected to get $9,290,748 in state aid, which is up $160,402 from the governor’s number in January.

District officials were concerned Lyndonville could be facing a $$250,000 to 300,000 increase in busing costs. But Lyndonville decided to do a joint bid with Roy-Hart and Barker for out-of-district transportation. Busing costs will be up, but the increase is $122,064 or 17.4 percent, from $701,300 to $823,364. The 5-year contract will then increase 2.6 percent annually from years 2 through 5.

Other highlights of the budget include:

• Instruction costs are up by $419,363 or 6 percent from $7,035,469 to $7,454,832. That includes contractual salary increases of $235,000; 2 more special education teachers, $90,000; $50,000 for two teacher aides; $45,000 for elementary intervention teacher; $35,000 for two classroom aides; $50,000 for BOCES support for in-service training, occupational education, technology and other services; $20,000 for equipment and $15,000 for grant writer to be shared with Medina.

• Lyndonville also is saving $193,000 in instruction with four teachers retiring to be replaced by new teachers at lower salary and benefits.

• Bond payments down from $1,407,000 to $840,700, a $566,300 reduction after the district paid off a serial bond last year.

• Health care rates are up $152,000

• Social Security and other benefits are up $59,000

• The teachers’ retirement system payments are down $62,000

The May 21 vote will include the following propositions:

• School budget

• 3 board seats

• Transportation purchases, not to exceed $260,000. That includes one new 64-seat passenger bus, not to exceed $125,000 (which will replace a 2007 bus with 137,000 miles); two new passenger vans, not to exceed $46,000 each (replacing one from 2010 with 167,000 miles and one from 2014 with 150,000 miles); a new vehicle with room for four or five people to transport staff and students, at a cost not to exceed $43,000.

• Allowing one student to serve as ex-officio, not-voting member of the Board of Education.

• $103,750 for Yates Community Library, up from $2,832 or 2.8 percent which is within the library’s allowable tax cap.

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Lyndonville students hear how drugs, alcohol derailed a former promising high school athlete

Photos by Tom Rivers: Stephen Hill says he plunged into drug addiction beginning when he was 14 and lasting until he was 24. Hill has now been sober for more than six years.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2019 at 2:42 pm

Ex-addict shares story of recovery after decade of drug abuse

LYNDONVILLE – Stephen Hill thought he could handle it. He was 14 and started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.

He was a freshman on the school’s hockey and lacrosse teams, playing with juniors and seniors. The older students introduced him to the party scene.

They all seemed to be having a good time. Hill wanted to fit in with that crowd.

“That first drink and first drug changed my life forever,” he told about 300 students this morning during an assembly at Lyndonville Central School. “Once you get into it, it’s so hard to get out of it.”

Hill as a freshman tried marijuana and one of his team’s captains encouraged him to sell marijuana to other students. Hill used that money to buy marijuana for himself. Then he tried cocaine. Then it was prescription painkillers that he took from a friend’s sister who had her wisdom teeth out.

By his sophomore year of high school, Hill said the drugs were taking over his life. He was failing classes. By his junior year he was kicked off the sports teams and was in drug treatment.

The programs didn’t help him break free from drugs. It wasn’t until he was 24, when he turned away from drugs and alcohol. That was about 6 ½ years ago.

“I was the one who was insane,” he said. “I was completely out of mind. I couldn’t see life without it.”

Dr. Aaron Slack, middle-high school principal at Lyndonville, introduces Stephen Hill to about 300 students in grades 6 to 12 during this morning’s assembly. Slack said the opioid epidemic is harming the local community and country.

Hill, while facing felony drug charges in two states, completed a year-long drug treatment program. When he finished the program, he was welcomed at the treatment program as an employee, helping others gain sobriety.

He also returned to college after flunking out when he was 18. He was successful in community college and then graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School.

Hill shared his experiences with Lyndonville students today, telling them he wasn’t trying to scare them straight or use fear to motivate them to stay away from drugs. He doesn’t think those approaches are very effective.

Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to fit in, or to cope with sadness and anxiety, he told students. These days when he feels anxious or sad, he goes for a walk or to the gym. He often will call a friend. The emotions are temporary. Before he would use drugs to cope, and then he would feel more anxious when withdrawals kicked in.

Stephen Hill is now a law school student who also speaks at schools about the dangers of drinking and using drugs.

He would then be desperate to get a drug, doing things he couldn’t imagine to feed his addiction.

He said addiction is often progressive and fatal. He sees marijuana and alcohol as precursors to harder drugs. He tried cocaine and heroin when his judgement was clouded by marijuana and alcohol. He was nearly killed in a 4-wheeler accident when he was under the influence.

Hill said there are lots of ways to have fun without using drugs or alcohol.

“Go out there and take those healthy risks,” he said. “Just don’t risk your life.”

He also urged students to get help for themselves or their friends if they are using drugs and other substances, including nicotine. Vaping has become popular among teens and young adults, and Hill said that vaping is highly addictive. He struggled with that while trying to break free from drugs.

Hill grew up in Rockland County, north of New York City. He didn’t use drugs to escape neglect or abuse. He was in a loving home with three brothers and doting parents. He excelled at sports. His three brothers didn’t get into drugs, but they suffered from his addiction as he destabilized the family, getting arrested and being so unpredictable.

Hill said he was derailed by his drug abuse, and he regrets the hell it put his family through. He missed his grandfather’s funeral because he couldn’t cope while fighting withdrawals. Hill developed a bad reputation at his high school, and that hurt the chances for his younger brother to make sports teams and have friends over to the family’s house.

He regrets the “collateral damage” to his family and friends, saying addiction is a family disease because it impacts more than just the addict.

He has made amends with family members, but he said many of his friends continue to keep their distance.

Hill urged students to accept themselves and others, and not include drugs and alcohol in their idea of fun.

Student leaders, especially, need to show a better way of socializing that doesn’t include drugs and alcohol.

“I was insecure and I wanted to fit in,” Hill said. “I should have been OK with who I was.”

Hill also is addressing Batavia students this afternoon. The Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse invited him to speak at the local schools today.

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Lyndonville debuts new baby grand piano

Provided photos: Mr. John Bailey, Mrs. Jennifer Trupo, and Mrs. Kristina Best perform a six-handed arrangement of Aram Khachaturian's "Saber Dance" during the "Music in our Schools" Prism concert at Lyndonville Central School last Tuesday.  The special performance inaugurated a new Yamaha baby grand piano purchased by the district and two community organizations: the Lyndonville Music Boosters and the Lyndonville Area Foundation.

Posted 1 April 2019 at 10:26 am

Courtesy of Lyndonville Music Boosters

LYNDONVILLE – March is recognized nationally as “Music In Our Schools” month.  In recognition of this, the Lyndonville Music Department hosts an annual “Prism” concert showcasing its top musical talent through a variety of small ensemble performances. Only select musicians are invited to participate from grades 5-12.  The concert is fast paced, with one performance beginning as soon as another ends, featuring both instrumental and vocal groups.  It is normally a solid 1 ½ to 2 hours of fantastic music with no interruption, however last Tuesday night was an exception.

Tamara Huzair, a senior at LCS who intends to pursue a career in music, took to the microphone half way through the concert.

“As a special part of tonight’s concert, we are unveiling the new baby grand piano you see before you,” Tamara told the audience.

With joint financial support from the Lyndonville Music Boosters, Lyndonville Central School and the Lyndonville Area Foundation, the funds were secured for this instrument. This piano truly represents all the hard work, dedication and collaboration from every facet of the community that helps create the wonderful music program we have here, Tamara said.

She then introduced music teachers John Bailey, Jennifer Trupo and Kristina Best who performed a six-handed arrangement of Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance.” Tamara joked that the teachers wanted to “show you as many keys as possible at the same time.” Lyndonville Music Boosters president Michelle Dillenbeck said, “the performance was the perfect way to christen the new piano… the audience loved it.”

Click here to see a video of the teachers playing “Sabre Dance.”

Pictured with the new piano include from left: Jennifer Neroni-Trupo, vocal music instructor; John Bailey, elementary instrumental instructor; Darren Wilson and Rita Wolfe, President and Vice President of the Lyndonville Area Foundation; Jason Smith, Superintendent of Lyndonville Central School; Tamara Huzair, senior music student; Patrick Whipple, Vice President of the Lyndonville Music Boosters; and Kristina Best, high school instrumental instructor.

Dillenbeck, while helping to set up for a Christmas concert last December, joked with elementary instrumental instructor John Bailey that the piano currently used in performances was showing significant signs of wear and age.

Darren Wilson, president of the Lyndonville Area Foundation who attended the concert that night, also mentioned that the piano had perhaps reached the end of its useful life. Ironically, late that evening, after the concert had concluded, vocal music instructor Jennifer Trupo noticed an important post on Facebook.

“Tom Miller of Miller Piano Service posted some photos on Facebook of this beautiful Yamaha piano for a great price,” Trupo said. “There was immediately interest from other potential buyers, so I knew we had to jump at it right away before it was purchased by somebody else!” The next day, Music Boosters officers set out to acquire the instrument. They immediately approved a non-refundable down payment, and sought to partner with other organizations to secure full funding before the deadline to purchase passed. They applied for a grant from the Lyndonville Area Foundation, and asked for a matching donation from the district. Thankfully, both the district and Foundation jumped at the opportunity to be involved, and the piano was purchased with equal contributions from all.

The Lyndonville high school jazz band, directed by Kristina Best, was the final performance of this year’s “Music In Our Schools” PRISM concert which involved vocal and instrumental music students in grades 5-12.

“The District was honored to partner with the Lyndonville Music Boosters and Lyndonville Area Foundation to provide this beautiful piano to enhance our already outstanding music program,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. “Every year our concerts are a major event in the community, and this piano will be enjoyed and appreciated for generations!”

Wilson expressed similar sentiments. “The Foundation recognizes the central role that Lyndonville Central School occupies within the community. The Foundation also recognizes that, like many other communities, overall funding for arts and music programs has been diminishing, requiring greater outside support for their continuation. As the school and the Music Boosters stepped up to provide a major portion of the purchase price of the new piano – a much-needed, long overdue but expensive asset to the school’s music department – the Foundation’s Board of Directors were unanimous in their decision to contribute the remaining amount needed for the piano’s purchase. The piano will be a centerpiece for the music department for many years to come. The instrument’s longevity was a contributing factor in the Foundation’s decision to assist in its funding.”

All three organizations hope that the procurement of this beautiful piano will increase the quality of events they host in the future. The Boosters and district are excited to show off the piano for the whole county next year as they host one of the two high school All-County music festivals scheduled.

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