Monday, January 29, 2018

Wildcat Pride

On Friday, I sent out a "tweet" to the seniors reminding them that today marks the beginning of the last 20 weeks of their high school careers. The message was for them to enjoy the time, finish strong, and prepare for what comes next. What ensued was a string of "likes", some from seniors, but many more from graduates who have "crossed the bridge" to use a Scout term. I feel that there are many former students out there (and parents) who were happy to graduate and go to that next level, but also have really good memories of their time here and are proud of their roots. That is what it is all about!

We do see this pride all over the place, like paw prints on the backs of cars, and seemingly every type of Wildcat clothing that one can imagine. It is our brand. It identifies us as being a part of something special. Senior Brianna Orendorf was at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo recently and snapped this picture of a real "Wildcat". How cool is it that the portrait of this magnificent animal really lines up to how we identify ourselves?!? Great job Bri, and let's keep that #Wildcatpride alive!

Athletic Pride: Speaking of pride, I would like to introduce you to senior Sangu Mbekelu. Sangu was recognized over the weekend at the CNY National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner. Was it for the most tackles? No. Maybe the most yards from scrimmage? No. How about the most number of receptions or interceptions? No and No. Sangu was recognized for his academics, and for being an outstanding and selfless teammate.

He fulfilled many roles on the team and worked relentlessly to be the best player and teammate he could be. His academic schedule was rigorous and challenging; he is in many advanced and college level courses, and he has achieved high 90's in all of them. He set an example for our younger players to take pride in their roles and work at them to ultimately impact the people around them in a positive way. The man in the picture with him is Mark Ferrante, head football coach at Villanova. Congratulations Sangu!

Changes in Administration: We do have a Wildcat who will be moving on from our family. Executive Principal Geoff Morton will be realizing a career-long dream of being a district-level administrator by taking on the Director of Pupil Personnel Services position for the Hamilton Central School District. I have never been one to hold someone back from doing what they want to do in their career, and we wish Mr. Morton well.

We are fortunate to have an Executive Principal in waiting at the high school. Her name is Shannon Coholan and she has been our 12th grade Principal for two and a half years. She is a product of the Le Moyne College Teacher Leader Program and is also a recent graduate of the SUNY Oswego Superintendent Development Program (a program not just for people who want to be Superintendents, but for people who want to be the best all-around leaders they can be). You may have also seen her featured as the "Educator of  Excellence" on CBS5 ( after being recommended by many of her peers and students. She is also the co-leader of the West Side Support Network (formerly known as the Community Coalition on Substance Abuse).

If you or your children have been in involved in the Halloween Carnival, Respect and Responsibility Club, Culture Fair, Race for Respect, or any of the recent speakers at the high school, then you have been a part of her work. She is well respected by parents, staff, and most importantly, the students. How do I know how the students feel about her? When I was sitting with the Wildcat Nation at the basketball game on Thursday, word was starting to spread about the change, and I was made to promise repeatedly that "yes, Ms. Coholan will still work with you as seniors right through graduation." We are in good hands.

This change actually begins today so that Ms. Coholan can sit on the Strategic Planning team which meets for 2 days this week and helps to set our course for next year.

Mr. Morton also wore two other hats. He was our 504 Coordinator (504 plans are developed for students who have long-term education and life-altering medical conditions) and was also our Director of Secondary Education (a role to help us properly transition students from 5th to 6th grade and from 8th to 9th grade).

We have tapped our current Director of Staff Relations, Dave Cirillo, to take on the 504 piece; and West Genesee Middle School Principal, Steve Dunham, will be the Director of Secondary Education. This breakout of duties will help us to operate and deliver services in all areas in a much more efficient manner and plays to everyone's strengths. We have advertised for a replacement 12th grade principal and hope to have that process completed by March. Congratulations to all!

I was hoping for a weekend weather extension, but my wish was not granted. Oh well. At least we are headed into February!

Thanks and enjoy the week!