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Students’ video published on Smithsonian website

It was also featured at one of the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibits in Syracuse.

a high school student uses a video camera while another conducts an interview in a high school science classroom
Sarah Paradiso runs the camera while Grace Hoffman conducts an interview.

Fort Plain is on the map! A video created by Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School students has been published on the Smithsonian Institution’s website. It was also featured at one of the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibits in Syracuse.

Students Grace Hoffman, Sarah Paradiso, Sophia Rogers and Willow MaGinnis created a video about the Erie Canal. They completed the project as members of the high school’s Environmental Study Team. It’s an extracurricular activity under the advisement of science teacher Lance Elliot.

Elliot brought the students to Syracuse this summer so they could see the exhibit and watch the video they created. It was most recently published on the Smithsonian website.

“It was so rewarding and mind-blowing to see our exhibit in Syracuse, and knowing it’s on the Smithsonian website is so cool!” Paradiso said. “I mean, come on, it’s the SMITHSONIAN!”

a high school student uses a video camera while another conducts an interview with a third student in a high school science classroom
Sophia Rogers, left, Grace Hoffman and Sarah Paradiso practice interview techniques, and filming angles before video production.

The Smithsonian has a traveling exhibit known as the Museum on Main Street. The program has a digital component known as Stories on Main Street. Together, they aim to “empower people to embrace their history and uncover their community’s stories,” according to its website.

Community members can submit audio stories, photos, text and videos about life in small-town America. To date, more than 1,200 people have saved their stories through the project. “These digital assets are preserved for future generations in a searchable Smithsonian database,” its website says.

The Fort Plain video was submitted for the Water/Ways exhibit. The video explores the significance of the Erie Canal in the Fort Plain community. Students also highlight what they’ve learned by participating in the program.

“Every single waterway that we have here is part of the town history,” Hoffman says in the video. “Anything to do with water has to do with Fort Plain.”

The Environmental Study Team partners with the Schoharie River Center and annually conducts research on local waterways. Elliot described the team’s work as citizen science, as the students gather data to help the research of professional scientists. The team creates a display and presents its findings at the Mohawk Watershed Symposium at Union College every year.

Elliot said the video project showed students an alternative way of sharing information.

“They learned how to get a point across in today’s day and age,” he said. “It showed them how to reach a wider audience.”

Both Paradiso and Hoffman said the project helped them learn about video editing and how to use new software.

“I never thought the video would get this much attention, but I did put a lot of work into it so it’s nice to know that it’s going places,” Hoffman said. “I don’t think I’ve really basked in my accomplishment yet. I’m not sure when that will happen, but for right now I’m feeling generally pleased about the whole thing.”

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Sign up for the Pacers Program

The Fort Plain Central School is inviting district residents to participate in its Pacers Program. Participants may walk inside the elementary school from Nov. 4 through April 30 on days when school is in session from 4:30-7:30 p.m. If you would like to sign up for the Pacers Program, please contact Becky in the district office at 518-993-4000 ext. #1000. The cost is $5.

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Students of the Month for September at Harry Hoag Elementary School

Congratulations to the Students of the Month for September at the Harry Hoag Elementary School!

Seven students and an elementary school principal stand in two rows in a school library
Front row: Kindergartner Noah Clark, third grader Lainie McDuffee, first grader Elaena Minarich and second grader Sienna Dean. 
Second row: Sixth grader Bailie Richardson, Principal Lauren Crisman, fifth grader Landon Kretser and fourth grader Elijah Smith.
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22 Push-Up Challenge: High school joins awareness campaign in advance of Veterans Day

It’s a national campaign aimed at bringing awareness to veteran and service member suicide prevention.

A group of faculty, staff and students at the Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School is participating in the 22 Push-Up Challenge. This is a national campaign aimed at bringing awareness to veteran and service member suicide prevention.

“With Veterans Day right around the corner, we wanted to do something special to honor our veterans and active service men and women in the military,” teacher George Snyder said. He spearheaded the initiative. “We also want to bring attention to the terrible statistic of 22 veterans and service members committing suicide every single day.”

The group will do 22 seconds of push-ups for the next 22 school days. They started Oct. 9. Local schools, organizations and community members are challenged to join them.

Follow the group on Instagram @FP22Challenge to see daily progress.

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Fire Truck Day: Students learn about fire safety and prevention

Oct. 8 was an unofficial holiday for the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and Head Start classes at Harry Hoag Elementary School — Fire Truck Day!


a firefighter helps a pre-k student spray a fire hose as the classmates hold up the hose behind them outside of an elementary school
Fort Plain firefighter Dawson Nare, left, helps pre-k student Sterling VanAlstyne spray a fire hose, while his classmates hold it up. From the left are Nare, VanAlstyne, Dawson Dean, Carmella Calhoun, Aleena Crouse, Raylynn Jones, Tessa McFee, Julianna Delgado, Jackson Dolly, and Brantley Downes. Firefighter Trevor Brownell is in the back.
firefighter helps a pre-k student spray a fire hose outside of a school transportation building
Fort Plain Central School District school board member and firefighter Jeff Jones helps pre-k student Mieke Hallstein spray a fire hose.

Oct. 8 was an unofficial holiday for the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and Head Start classes at Harry Hoag Elementary School — Fire Truck Day!

It’s better known as Fire Prevention Day among the adults, but the students’ enthusiasm for the event takes over. Some of the young learners couldn’t help but press their noses to the classroom windows as they excitedly watched members of the Fort Plain Fire Department roll up in two engines.

“The trucks are big and the sirens are loud, but this event helps eliminate the fear factor some children might have,” Chief Bill Ehrenreich said.

The importance of having smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the home was impressed upon the children. They were also urged to go home and talk to their parents about having a plan for an emergency, such as identifying a gathering spot in case they ever need to evacuate.

And, of course, they needed to have a little fun. Students got to spray a fire hose and ride in a truck.

Ehrenreich was joined by department President Joe Hanifin and firefighters Jeff Jones of the Fort Plain school board, Dawson Nare, Trevor Brownell and Bud Waner.

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Brunch, baseball, blastoff: Class helps students develop life skills

The special education program focuses on helping students develop the skills they need to succeed in every day life.

six students in yankees hats stand before a whiteboard in a classroom
From the left are Jordan Waner, Raul Rivera, Dustin Welch, Zachary Hayner, Jose Papero and Nicholas Blowers

All in a week’s time, the students in Lisa Petty’s Life Skills class learned how to launch rockets, to prepare a brunch for the entire staff of the Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School, and to write thank you cards to the New York Yankees after receiving free goodies from the organization.

The special education program focuses on helping students develop the skills they need to succeed in every day life, such as cooking, doing laundry and managing money.

two students place batter from a bowl into a muffin pan at a table in a school classroom
Zachary Hayner, left, and Raul Rivera make muffins.

Preparing a brunch for almost 50 people isn’t a simple feat. It ranges from grocery shopping, creating and mailing invitations and completing food prep, to learning about food allergies, cooking terminology, and hygiene, sanitation and safety. And that just scratches the surface.

“They develop their fine motor skills, work on teamwork and learn about the importance of following directions,” Petty said.

Student Jose Papero joked that the project brought him to tears.

“I didn’t like cutting the onions because it made me cry,” he said, smiling.

For the brunch, the class made eight crust-less quiches, a French toast bake, yogurt parfaits, muffins and more.

“My belly is still full,” student Raul Rivera said the next day.

Some of the students have asked for recipes so they can cook for their family at home, Petty said.

“Some of them have never zested a lemon before or measured baking powder, but now that they’ve done it, they can try making some of these recipes at home,” she said.

five students and a teacher hold rockets outside while wearing safety goggles
Teacher Patrick Petty, second from left, taught the students how to launch rockets.

Students bring other lessons home, too, like the science lesson they learned from teacher Patrick Petty. The class went outside to learn how to launch rockets.

That weekend, student Dustin Welch practiced the project with his parents at home. They sent Lisa Petty a video.

“They didn’t go very far like the ones at school, but it was fun,” Welch said.

The class was inadvertently awarded for all its recent hard work. Classroom aide Lori Shults surprised the students by writing to the New York Yankees and sharing how the students are huge fans (well, Nicholas Blowers is a Mets fan, but he was still a good sport). The Yankees organization in turn sent each student a hat, pencil, stickers, baseball card, tech gear and more.

Petty is turning that into another opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson.

“We’re going to learn how to write thank you cards this week so they can express their appreciation,” Petty said.

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Eighth graders video chat with NASA engineer

video chat with an engineer is projected on a screen in a high school auditoriumIt’s not every day you get to learn from a renowned NASA engineer in your science class, but the prestigious opportunity was bestowed upon the eighth graders of Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School last week.

Students video chatted with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill, who has been employed by NASA for over 50 years and designed the emergency alarm system for the Apollo Spacecraft. Woodfill shared his experiences about working on the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions, particularly his efforts in successfully rescuing the crew of Apollo 13. He was one of the team members who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts.

Science teacher Patrick Petty, who attended a highly-competitive NASA institute for educators this summer, said classes have been learning about NASA, astronauts and the science skills that astronauts use, and how students can use them in their every day lives.

“We watched Apollo 13 in class last week and this week wrote letters to current astronauts,” Petty said.

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Students share impact of EPIC program

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For senior Hayley Hart, the caretaker role comes naturally.

“I have four other siblings I take care of,” she said. 

It puts her in the perfect position as the upperclassman in her EPIC group at the Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School. The Every Person is Connected Program groups about 10 students from each grade level 7-12 with a staff member who is a mentor. The program aims to help students build relationships with the staff and their peers.

“If a student is not connected otherwise to the school, either through a sport or an extracurricular activity, everyone has EPIC in common,” school counselor Kayla Mahoney said.

This is EPIC’s second year at the high school. Kickoff for the program was celebrated on Friday, Sept. 20. Groups met and welcomed the new seventh graders who moved up from the Harry Hoag Elementary School this year. 

Eighth grader Delana Tracki said EPIC helped her transition between buildings as she moved up last year from the elementary school to the high school.

“Our group is a place to open up,” she said.

“The older kids are more mature, and they are easier to talk to, so we can trust them more,” eighth grader Scerenity LaValley said. 

Junior Cameron Tamsett said Mahoney, his group’s mentor, is someone he feels comfortable asking for help. He says she helps him stay on track with his school work.

“She makes sure we’re taken care of,” Tamsett said.

The teams will stay together year after year. They meet about once a month on a rotating basis. A typical session might include a team-building exercise to build trust, an artistic activity to spur creativity, or a discussion aimed at exposing the students to new ideas, new activities and new people.

Friday’s events featured lunch in groups, an ice cream social, outdoor team-building exercises, and an assembly with the group Sweethearts and Heroes. Students heard from motivational speakers Tom Murphy and Rick Yarosh about the impacts of bullying and messages of bystander empowerment, empathy and leadership.

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Students exposed to 70+ institutions at College Fair

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Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School students were exposed to more than 70+ institutions at a College Fair held at Fulton-Montgomery Community College on Tuesday, Sept. 17. This event is held annually by the Tri-County Counselor’s Association.

“This is a great event because it’s important for our students to see what opportunities are available to them after graduation, ” School Counselor Colleen Cushing said. “They also benefited from being exposed to a collegiate setting.”

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Harry Hoag Elementary School Open House is Oct. 3

Open House at the Harry Hoag Elementary School is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 3 from 5-6 p.m. The evening is designed to be an informal way for parents and guardians to meet teachers, see displays of academic work and view the building layout. Parents and guardians are encouraged to show support of their children in their “home away from home” by attending.  The teachers will be in their classrooms until 6 p.m.

There will be a Title 1 Parent Information Session at 4:30 p.m. in the library.  This session is for any parent who wants to learn more about academic intervention services for students.

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