A capital project update
With spring sun and warmer weather comes the return of school budget season. As the school district budget vote approaches, some of you may be wondering about the status of our capital project, made possible by faithful community members who cast their vote last year.
Once the project is passed by voters, a lot happens behind the scenes before work can begin. The final hurdle is for the Board of Education to approve the bids for phase one work to begin. That means they compare estimates from different companies and choose the best option for the District.
Phase one of the project is scheduled to begin this summer. That includes work at both the Transportation Center and the Jr.-Sr. High School. At the Transportation center, the furnace will be replaced. At the Jr.-Sr. High School, portions of the roof and sanitary piping will be replaced. The auditorium sound system will also be completely renovated, which is exciting for our musical theater department as shows for next school year are planned.
Phase two will begin one year from now, in the spring of 2023. That includes the upgrades to our athletic facility at the high school, with a reconstruction of the track and the installation of a new multipurpose turf field and bleachers. An emergency generator will also be installed, along with additional bathrooms for public use. Phase two also includes work at the Elementary School. The floor at the Tope Gymnasium will be resurfaced and the wall pads and the divider wall in the gym will be replaced. The Tope Gymnasium foyer flooring area will be upgraded as well.
As excitement builds for these much-needed renovations, I thank our supportive Weedsport community for helping make this happen. We will keep you updated every step of the way as work begins. Be sure to follow our social media accounts and check our website regularly to see the progress.
Posted April 1, 2022
A thank you to the community
As we enter the second half of the school year, I have been reflecting on the incredible support and patience our community has shown amid a confusing and frustrating time. This message is to say thank you. We understand how you are feeling, and we appreciate you sticking with us through all the changes the past few weeks have brought.
Getting through the wave of this latest variant has felt like climbing a mountain. We think we’re getting to the top, and can soon start our descent, but we keep reaching false peaks. With each turn, we think we’ll see that clear, beautiful view from the top, but instead we find ourselves facing yet another hill to traverse.
Through it all, our top priority will always be keeping our students and staff safe. The District continues to require all students and staff to wear masks for the health and safety of our community and in accordance with the recommendation of the New York State and County Departments of Health and Centers for Disease Control. It remains important to keep your student(s) home if they feel sick, and remember that at-home tests continue to be available for families who request them.
With these precautions in place, our trek is gradually becoming less steep. As we reach the final few days of the month of January, 97-percent of students district-wide are eligible to be in school, not isolated, or quarantined. We can confidently say we are approaching the summit of our climb.
Creating a safe environment for our students would not be possible without the cooperation and care of the Weedsport community. Once again, thank you for continuing to cheer us on through each new obstacle.
Posted Jan. 28, 2022
Compensating for lost opportunities
As we close out this fifth week of the 2021-22 school year, the strength and resiliency of our school community continues to shine brightly. Over the past few months, the term “learning loss” has been used often when describing the student experience throughout the pandemic. To paint a more accurate picture, I think it’s better to say students had an incomplete experience last school year. This year, we are striving to compensate for those lost opportunities.
We understand the importance of keeping students in school, which is why we have extra measures in place to lower the number of potential student quarantines. Teachers have made seating adjustments so that students are at least 3 feet apart in class, and 6 feet apart when eating. The transportation department has also adjusted where students sit on the bus, and has been enforcing assigned seating.
Recapturing lost opportunities is a priority District wide. At the Jr.-Sr. High School, students have the chance to recover course credit in our new learning lab. At the elementary school, we are offering more art classes to ensure students have a creative outlet during their day. There is also an additional school counselor on staff, and more targeted academic intervention for students thanks to an additional AIS teacher. With more than a dozen new teachers, aides and other staff members hired this school year, Weedsport students have the support they need to be successful.
Additionally, our goal is to keep a clear line of communication with you, the Weedsport community, who has offered so much support and encouragement throughout the difficult times we’ve faced. Beginning today, the Weedsport website will display the number of students out on mandatory isolation/quarantine orders across the district. These numbers will be updated weekly, under the COVID-19 section of the website.
As we continue to do all we can to provide the best education for all Weedsport students, we want to share one resounding message with you all – we will recover.
posted Oct. 8, 2021
Finding balance during a shifting tide
Spring is starting to show itself in Central New York, and with this final push of the school season comes newly updated guidelines regarding social distancing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Cayuga County Health Board. As we navigate the ever-shifting waters of guidance surrounding in-person learning, our priorities are changing with the tide.
The entire Weedsport Community has been incredibly flexible this year, and as the school year has progressed, our goal has been to get students back into the classroom as often as possible. Returning to some sense of normalcy while keeping on top of the latest guidelines has been a bit like trying to keep your balance on a small ship while waves crash around you.
Through it all, we have never forgotten how important it is to provide a well-rounded education for each student within the Weedsport Central School District, and that includes offering fine arts programs for all. We understand how vital art is in association with mental health, and that it can be a necessary outlet for many students, especially while wading through this pandemic.
While considering classroom structures and schedules for the 2021-22 school year, our goal is to offer art classes back into the school day for every student. As we continue to work through the budget for the year ahead, this remains a top priority. Calmer waters are ahead.
posted March 25, 2021
Piecing together a complex puzzle
It’s no surprise that this school year has brought many challenges with it, but with each problem solved it’s as if we come one step closer to completing a complex puzzle, like a Rubik’s cube.
As we are presented with twists and turns, patterns emerge and eventually colors begin to align. We have a tendency to want to wave a magic wand when confronted with hardships, but often the answer only shows itself after some trial and error.
The days are becoming longer and the weather is getting warmer, pointing us in the direction of spring. We’re not just looking ahead to brighter days outdoors, but also within our school hallways. Right now, we are on track to have nearly 100% of all of our staff fully vaccinated. Guidelines at the state and local level are adapting in an ongoing fashion to allow for less interruption to in-person learning due to quarantining.
There is a lot of excitement on the horizon. The school musical is around the corner, prom planning is in the works, and graduation day will be here before we know it. With each school event we are able to safely execute, a new wall of color reveals itself on our Rubik’s cube.
As long as we continue to take things one step at a time, we are well on our way to solving this puzzle.
posted Feb. 26, 2021
A reflection: We’re a month into the school year
If you would have told me in early June that on Oct. 9 we’d be a month into the new school year and that kids would be attending in person, I may have not believed you.
But here we are, five weeks into the new year.
If you watch or read the local and national news, you know that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made it easy for us or anyone for that matter. We’ve had our share of bumps on the road, but we approach each day as an opportunity to listen and learn. Every day, we take numerous precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We clean and sanitize our buildings and strictly adhere to mask and social distancing guidelines.
Still, in late September, we registered our first COVID-19 case, but with the help of our entire learning community, we got through it. While we all endured that together, our focus remains creating a safe environment for our students and staff while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Life during the pandemic might qualify as “the new normal,” for the time being, but there are still wonderful examples that reflect the fabric of our learning community.
Students at the Jr.-Sr. High School are outside on science hill conducting experiments, we’re getting ready for our annual Spirit Week, and our field hockey team just won their season opener 3-0. We even have students in physical education trying to best each other in a round of park golf, which takes place all around our campus.
I hate to sound cliché, but the one thing COVID hasn’t taken away is our Warrior spirit and the smiles off the faces of our students. Since we discussed reopening, we’ve stressed how important that person-to-person interaction is and that everyone benefits from being together socially. While some may have trepidation, I can see that many of our students are genuinely happy to be back on campus and learning together.
And during this new normal, I think that’s one of the best things we can ask for.
posted Oct. 9, 2020
School reopening is a lot like pick-up sticks
I think a lot of us remember the game pick-up sticks from when we were kids. And when I think of the game, there’s a certain metaphor between that and the reopening of our schools.
Now that we’re at the end of the first week (and it’s amazing how fast it flew by), I’m reflecting on how much planning went into reopening our schools and how much we continue to plan. Just like in pick-up sticks, we’ve been strategic and slow in our preparation, knowing that one move can easily lead to multiple outcomes.
Every decision we’ve made and continue to make can influence so many different variables, and we approach each day knowing that.
On the flip side, our students have been amazing this week as they’ve adhered to our mask and social distancing policies, and seeing that makes me recognize all the planning was worth it. There’s a tangible energy in our buildings because I’m realizing our students and staff are truly happy to be back and interacting with each other.
But our planning isn’t done yet.
We continue to evaluate our decisions and try to improve the plan that has already gotten us this far. It’s important that we didn’t just work to reopen schools, but we continue to make efforts and give our best so that they stay open.
We know that any move we make can easily influence 10 different things. That’s why district leaders have not and will not let their guard down as we move strategically and methodically through the school year.
The payoff has already been astronomical.
Because we were all lucky enough to see the faces of our students on Sept. 8. You could see the smiles; even with their masks on.
posted Sep. 11, 2020
I’m thankful for a staff who takes the initiative to improve themselves professionally and personally
I don’t know of many places where a music teacher also coaches bowling, but in places like Weedsport, that doesn’t surprise me. High school music teacher Alex Veiga recently agreed to take on a totally new venture where there is no blueprint and coach our new varsity bowling team.
I have great faith he will succeed, and this is just one of the reasons I’m thankful this year. We have a staff at Weedsport who constantly takes it upon themselves to grow both personally and professionally, and continue to prepare our students for success in the 21st century.
This Monday, a group of our teachers plan to attend a New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education (NYSCATE) conference in Rochester. Our director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, Mindy Ervay, and our BOCES technology integration coach, Nina Baker, will attend along members of our STEM, technology and library departments. That includes Lisa Mabbett, Brian Gates, Alicia Flinn, Tammy Whidden, and Aja Hahn. Our team members will be networking with other districts who are on the cutting edge of technology, interacting with the latest products and services available to educators, and collaborating with each other to further develop meaningful technology integration into our classrooms.
This speaks volumes to the forward thinking of our teachers and willingness to continue to infuse technology into our educational programs.
Our staff isn’t just content to seek improvement professionally either.
I’m also thankful for their continued empathy and constant displays of care for our local community.
Our staff will once again partner with the Weedsport CCYO for a winter apparel drive, and we will have a holiday gift giveaway for students in need. Meanwhile, a group of staff members at the Jr.-Sr. High School also participated in No Shave November and raised more than $1,000 for different charities.
All of these examples and even more that I haven’t mentioned conjure great feelings of pride and thankfulness in me as I wish everyone in our district a very Happy Thanksgiving.
posted Nov 22, 2019 2:44 PM EST
New furniture and Chromebooks at the elementary school
Our last capital project in Weedsport had a lot to do with renovating our buildings and installing new heating and ventilation. While that’s a necessity for all school districts, there’s nothing very flashy about it. So naturally, I get excited when we can use our resources directly on our students.
We’ve recently used some of our funds to purchase new classroom furniture at Weedsport Elementary and to put Chromebooks (laptops that use the Google Chrome operating system) in the hands of all of our students in grades 1-6.
We included money in our current operating budget for new desks and tables for select grades at the elementary, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The current furniture is decades old – with some pieces about 30 years old. I’ve always loved seeing the look of excitement on a student when he/she receives a new desk. And who doesn’t like the smell of new furniture?
Our second purchase comes courtesy of the Smart Schools Bond Act. It was passed as part of the 2014-15 state budget and authorized the issuance of $2 billion to finance educational technology and infrastructure to improve learning opportunities for students throughout the state.
We decided to use the money we were allocated on classroom technology.
That means we’re continuing our 1:1 initiative, which provides all the students in grades 1-6 with Chromebooks that utilizes the platform, Google Classroom. Google Classroom allows teachers to create, distribute, and grade assignments.
I’ve always talked about how we continually strive to strategically use our funds to benefit students, and I’m happy that our youngest learners will benefit from these two purchases. It’s important that we use technology to supplement learning at Weedsport and continue to prepare our students to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
posted Oct 31, 2019 2:44 PM EST
Fitness Center drawing great reviews
“I like this better than the gym I go to in Auburn.” “This has a great community feel to it.” “I love the equipment. There’s lots of Warrior pride here, too.”
Those are just some of the fantastic comments we’ve received about our Fitness Center that opened in the Jr.-Sr. High School in July.
As administrators, we often throw around the phrase “return on investment,” and this is one of the shining examples that comes to mind. When our voters approved the 2015 capital project, the Fitness Center – and numerous other upgrades around the district – was included in the total cost. And since it opened, the Fitness Center has been a hit with our community members.
In about eight months, it’s seen more than 8,000 visitors. Those numbers don’t include our athletes, students, and staff either. The center has hosted about 20 boot camps (held by Swagler Strength and Performance), which have been very well attended, along with other exercise challenges, Zumba, and more.
Speaking of capital projects, our pool has hosted community swim nights on Mondays and Wednesdays and we’ve been pleased with the attendance.
I’m very happy that our community has been able to see and enjoy what they’ve invested in, and in the coming months, they’ll be able to see some changes to the bottom floor of the elementary school (which was also a part of the capital project). So if you haven’t seen our fitness center yet, I encourage you to stop by. The hours are listed on our website.
posted Mar 22, 2019 2:44 PM EST
Hopes for the New Year
As the new year has recently dawned, hope lies before us at Weedsport. My family and I often make a few resolutions for the new year, but this year, I also have a few hopes.
Now that our fitness center is in full swing, my hope is that even more community members will utilize this excellent facility. The fitness center not only features state-of-the-art equipment, but numerous programs such as boot camp and Zumba. The comments I’ve heard from community members have been very positive and I’m excited to continue to grow our membership.
We recently hired a new School Resource Officer (SRO) at Weedsport, and judging by the number of “likes” that announcement garnered on Facebook, I hope she continues to take off as a success here. She’ll work in both of our school buildings, and she’s already become a familiar face on campus. If you see her around, please introduce yourself.
Speaking of social media, our accounts have been very successful since we launched them a few years ago, so I’m hoping we can increase our Twitter followers this year. We’re up to almost 430 followers and we plan on adding more fun and informative content as the year progresses.
We love content about our academic and sports programs and also our students (both current and those who have graduated). We publish an annual alumni newsletter in order to connect with the folks who graduated from here. I hope that in the coming year we can engage and attract more alumni who follow what’s happening at their alma mater.
Since we are all in the business of public education, my last hope ties in with academics. Our staff and students are very dedicated to working hard to succeed here, and this year, I’m hoping our state assessment scores in math and English Language Arts (ELA) increase. These assessments are one of the tools we use to measure student progress, and in 2019, I’m hoping the scores reflect all the hard work everyone has put in.
posted Jan 11, 2019 2:34 PM EST
Excitement in the air over Weedsport football
If you take a stroll down the halls of Weedsport Jr.-Sr. High School, there’s a tangible excitement and energy in the air. For the first time since 2009, our undefeated varsity football team is going to the Carrier Dome (on Saturday) and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
For me, fall and football go hand-in-hand, and the fact our team is still playing this deep in the year says a lot.
We’re excited for multiple reasons, because this team has put together a fantastic season. As many of you know, it’s the team’s first season playing 8-man football since 1956.
There was a lot of input from our community about the switch, and I think this season has done a lot to put our football team back on the map. As I mentioned above, our team is undefeated, and that is hard to accomplish!
I couldn’t be more excited for seniors Max Horsford and Taino Follett who went through two tough years on teams that took their share of lumps. Max led our team in scoring this year with 68 points, and these two boys have also led by example. Also, coach Jon Sgarlata has coached this team up and it’s been fantastic to see their improvement from week-to-week.
I think this year has given the team a chance to carve out a new identity and establish new traditions. By switching to 8-man, we’ve still kept the “W” on our helmets, and I think our kids and community are proud of that. Win or lose the rest of the way, I’m proud of this team and this community for embracing the change and flourishing within it.
posted Nov 1, 2018 2:04 PM EST
New chapter of Weedsport football begins Friday
I’m excited to say that Friday, Sept. 14, marks an exciting new chapter in the history of Weedsport football. For the first time in more than 50 years, the team makes the transition to 8-man football at home against Morrisville-Eaton.
As you may know, we made the switch to 8-man football because Weedsport did not have enough players to safely compete at the varsity level. We also think that one of the biggest benefits of the switch is that Weedsport can preserve its identity without merging with another program.
Did you know this isn’t the first time we’ve played 8-man football?
This move represents a throwback of sorts, because in 1956, Weedsport played 8-man for the first time. But back then, they didn’t go down from 11 man, they went up from 6-man! A newspaper article from the time also says teams needed 15 yards for a first down. Ironically, the change to 8-man was made because of increasing enrollment in the schools around the county.
Now I know that sometimes change is met with trepidation, but the decision was made with the best interests of our students in mind. When you see the team, they’ll still sport the traditional Weedsport “W” on their helmets and still carry themselves with pride and poise.
This year also features a host of new opponents and that means opportunities to forge new and healthy rivalries. So please join me in ushering in an exciting new era of Weedsport football by wearing your green and white and cheering on our warriors!
posted Sep 13, 2018 2:09 PM EST
My driving force for this year is one word: now
My Image FileI’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I’m starting a new tradition. I recently read the book “One Word” by Jon Gordon and it basically says that instead of creating lists and numerous amounts of goals, you should pick one word that will be your theme for the entire year.
I picked the word “now.” What does that mean to me?
It essentially means that I’m not going to put off something until tomorrow if I can do it today. It means that if can finish a project, do a good deed, or positively affect someone’s life in this moment, I’m going to seize the opportunity.
I’ve always believed in the old adage that every journey begins with one step, and that’s how I’m going to approach my life this year. Since we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, I don’t want to look back at the end of 2018 and have any regrets. I don’t want my family to ever question how much I love them, and I don’t want all the people I work with and the students to ever wonder how grateful I am to be here.
So this year, if you’re not into making resolutions (or even if you are), I challenge you to pick a word that defines your journey for 2018.
posted Jan 8, 2018 10:43 AM EST