Monday, March 5, 2012


We had a very busy week in academics and athletics last week. Academically, we announced our Top Ten of the Class of 2012, seniors began to hear back from the colleges that they were accepted to, and many different students at Camillus Middle School competed for the honor of winning the Camillus Optimists Speech District contest.

The speech contest winners at CMS for the boys are Aren Burnside and Jack Barrett; and for the girls, Mackenzie Kittell and Haley Winks. The students from WGMS that competed on February 16, and who will also compete at the District Contest on March 14, are for the boys Mark Kopp and Nicholas Cantello; and for the girls, Helene Ferner and Hannah Humphreys. Congratulations to all.

In athletics, the Girls Basketball team took on a formidable team from Cicero-North Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. They fought valiantly against an incredibly strong opponent (one of their players will be playing for UConn next year) and came up short, but they definitely made us proud as they left it all on the court and represented our community very well.

Congratulations to the runners who earned their way to the podium at the NYS Championship in Cornell University’s Barton Hall on March 3. Kelly Powell (Section III Intersectional Relay-600) ran with two Cazenovia and one Skaneateles runner and came in 6th place. Martin Leff (1600m) came in 5th place for public schools and 8th place overall. Luke Potash (300m) also competed, placing 26th.

The NYS Swimming and Diving competition was also this past weekend. Congratulations to Joshua Byrne who competed in Diving. The Swimming team was also be represented at the competition with: 400 medly relay: Matthew O'Donnell, Collin Zapisek, Tyler Zapisek, Ian Bushnell; 200 medly relay: Matthew O'Donnell, Jacob Mullett, Tyler Zapisek, Ian Bushnell; 100 Butterfly: Matthew O'Donnell, Tyler Zapisek; and 200 individual medly: Tyler Zapisek. The swimmers all made it to the finals, and each relay made it into the top 20.

Our hockey team took on a pesky opponent in Niagara-Wheatfield on Saturday to a nearly full house at Shove Park. Defense and determination caused the Wildcats to wind up with the eventual upper hand and they will be returning to the "Frozen Four" next weekend at the Utica Auditorium to try and re-capture the state title.  Go 'Cats!

Martha Grener and the WGMS 8th Grade Band performed at the NYS Band Directors Symposium on March 3 and by all accounts did a great job representing our District.

Also last week I was invited by the District Leadership Institute (who also picked up the tab!) to attend a national think tank about issues in education.  I was one of 64 superintendents from across the country to have been invited to this event  in Phoenix, Arizona. Over the course of two days we interacted directly with the developers of textbooks, software programs, and pieces of hardware to let them know what we think students and teachers need to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. This is the first conference that I have walked away from in nearly thirteen years of being a superintendent where I actually felt smarter. Working with the actual developers of products like Google Chrome, Google Docs, The Discovery Channel, Pearson, and others was very inspirational because their products will now change based on OUR recommendations for children all across the country. Pretty cool.

We also conducted several round-tables where we discussed issues such as the Common Core Learning Standards, bullying, performance review systems, both local and state budgeting, wellness and nutrition in food service, special education, and English as a Second Language (ELL). It was very interesting to hear national perspectives on all of these issues and reassuring to hear that for the most part all of us are in the same boat except for one superintendent who I now consider a friend from a district located on an island in Maine (he takes an hour and a half ferry ride to get to the island).  He was the only one who mentioned that he did not have any cyber bullying issues in his district.  Shocked, we all asked what the key to his success was.  He said that there is no cell phone service and limited Internet access on the island so very few students have cell phones or Facebook accounts!

I also met another superintendent from California, another new friend, who has twenty percent of his students that do not speak English. Instead of having separate rooms and programs, as we do with our ELL students, every teacher is required to take two classes about teaching limited English speaking students and ALL of their ELL students are in regularly scheduled classes with all of the other students. The popular personal language learning program, Rosetta Stone, is also used.  Interesting concepts and enlightening to hear about what is happening in other states.  We all stole ideas from each other, and I am looking forward to trying some of the things that I learned from others in our District.

I also had a short period of down time, and I used that time to hike alone about three miles into the desert and climb to the top of a desert mountain that was about 2,000 feet above sea level.  At the top I spotted road runners, a desert rat (they weigh about 30 pounds and look like a cross between a rabbit and a kangaroo), many different types of cacti, tumble-weeds, and a border patrol helicopter. Considering that I was in my running shoes and shorts and did not stay on the marked paths, I am glad that I was not warned about the scorpions and rattle snakes until after I got back to the conference center!

Stay tuned this week for information about our first 2012-2013 budget presentation to be held on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in the high school library, as well as the fourth redistricting meeting that will be held at Split Rock Elementary at 6:30 p.m. in the "Cafetorium".

Have a wonderful and productive week.