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Glow Day lights up learning excitement

students holding balloons in blacklighted classroom

Who said that getting ready for state testing had to be boring?

As children across the state have been preparing for the NYS ELA assessments that will take place this week, the students in Mrs. Amy Bartholomew’s 6th grade English Language Arts classes have been doing the same . . . sort of.

Students spent all last week in her class reading incredibly challenging text passages and then analyzing and answering multiple choice questions. But since she was asking for so much effort and focus from them, Mrs. Bartholomew decided to reward her students and their hard work by making the experience as fun as possible.

They call these days “Glow Day,” and students spend their ELA class in complete darkness with blacklights, glowsticks, glow in the dark balloons, and highlighters to light their way as they work. When students completed test questions accurately, they were allowed to play glow-in-the-dark bowling, ring toss, tic-tac-toe, and basketball as a reward.

It is one of the most fun weeks in 6th grade ELA and students were actually THANKING her for their week of test prep! Mrs. Bartholomew shared that she is incredibly proud of her 6th graders and all of the hard work they’ve put in this past week, as well as throughout this entire school year.

teacher and students in blacklighted classroom

students working at desks in blacklighted classroom

Student-crafted Kachina Masks display learning, creativity

group of students and teacher holding their Kachina Masks in front of their faces

While some masks obscure things, those crafted by students in Patrick Hanifin’s 5th grade social studies class at Harry Hoag School provide a big, bright display – of learning, knowledge and creativity.

The students recently studied the Pueblo people. Then, each of the students created a Kachina Mask.

“The Hopi tribe used Kachina Masks in dance ceremonies to become the spirit their mask represents,” Mr. Hanifin said. “The students were very creative with their mask designs.”

He added, “The Hopi, native to Arizona, look to the Kachina spirits to renew the land each year and guarantee water for another season. Ceremonies honoring the Kachina take place from the winter solstice until July.”

Prekindergarten & kindergarten registration

Harry Hoag School is very excited to offer full-day primary-age programs for all eligible children.

Children who turn 4 years old on or before December 1, 2021, are eligible to attend prekindergarten next year.

Children who turn 5 years old on or before December 1, 2021, are eligible to attend kindergarten next year.

To register a child for prekindergarten or kindergarten for next fall, please fill out the following form to sign up for a registration appointment*:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1YmT05dAi1-wwPoJfzI0GCz-1u-OBtGF6nTybJEYjIIg/edit?ts=603cf2bf&gxids=7628

*Please note that students currently enrolled in prekindergarten at Harry Hoag Elementary School will be automatically enrolled into kindergarten. No further action required.

If you have any questions, please call Mrs. Fowler at (518) 993-4000, ext. #3072.

“Our Kindergarten and Prekindergarten programs aim to support young learners to develop school readiness skills and foundational academic skills,” Principal Lauren Crisman said. “While in attendance, your child will get to experience a classroom environment that is nurturing and supportive. Our primary teachers focus on providing young learners with many hands on learning experiences and positive social interactions.”

Harry Hoag 2nd Q Honor Roll, Principal’s List announced

Harry Hoag School is proud to announce the 2020-21 second quarter Honor Roll, to which 20 students were named, and Principal’s List, to which 28 students were named. The Honor Roll and Principal’s List recognize outstanding achievement and effort. The students received signed certificates from Principal Lauren Crisman and Superintendent John Bishop.

Congratulations to the following students:

Honor Roll

Grade 5

Alexis Bowley
Alexa Conley
Brianne Gallt
Violet Handy
Paige Lochner
George Mang
Sean McGuire
E’nyjah Oldick
Sawyer Raymond

Grade 6

Jordyn Best
Tyler Cotton
Lyllie Handy
Brooke Jones
Madison Lewis
Christopher Manchester
Morgan Prime
Silas Smith
Brady Spaulding
Riley Spraker
Landon VanGorde

Principal’s List

Grade 5

Joseph Barr
Caleigh Bartholomew
Eliyahna Brackett
Dio Callan
Jordan Gallt
Lincoln Kretser
Elijah Muha
Cristopher Quiroz-Romero
Xavier Rodriguez
Elijah Smith
Daija Suits
Dorian Tracki
Evan Weaver

Grade 6

Trinity Belliveau
Gamliel Brackett
Kala Clapper
Josiah Darrow
Aaliyah Delgado
Mason Gray
Hailey Hayes
Levi Hext
Lilly Lapi
Elle Nare
Faith Narzymski
Alexis Palmeri
Zionna Robarge
Larry Sanders III
Cheyanne Wall

Harry Hoag grades 1-6 to move to full-day, in-person instruction March 8; half-days on Feb. 23 & March 2 will allow school to prepare

At their meeting on February 10, the Fort Plain Board of Education approved plans to resume full-day, in-person instruction for grades 1-6 at Harry Hoag School, beginning on March 8. A remote-only option will remain available for families who need it.

“Our plan to resume full-day, in-person instruction at Harry Hoag aligns with our district’s Reopening Schools Guiding Principles,” said Superintendent of Schools John Bishop. “Those principles are to: Keep health & safety as a top priority. Maximize student – teacher contact time. Collect feedback from stakeholder groups. Use data to inform decisions.

“The revised reopening plan follows the guiding principles to: Engage through outreach to stakeholder groups, Inform by sharing current data and collected information, and Evolve by revising our instructional plan.”

The district has scheduled half-days of school at Harry Hoag for February 23, an A day, and March 2, a B day, to provide time for teacher and building preparation. The superintendent noted that the half-days were scheduled on an A and a B day to have the least impact on Harry Hoag families. Buses will depart at 12 p.m. on these days.

Fort Plain engaged Harry Hoag stakeholders by reaching out through a building survey, a hybrid learning feedback form, and faculty workshops and stakeholder meetings, all for the purpose of listening, learning, soliciting perspective and targeting areas for growth.

“We value and appreciate the partnership of our parents, families, faculty, staff and the community in our decision-making process, allowing us to provide this opportunity now that COVID-19 positivity rates are declining in our region,” said Bishop. “We look forward to bringing our Harry Hoag grades 1-6 students back together for the second half of the school year.”

The district informed stakeholders by sharing feedback about remote learning, both what has been working well for children, and challenges such as internet connectivity and parent schedules; data related to COVID-19 infection rates and concerns; and how to maintain a safe school environment that also maximizes the time students spend with teachers.

“When we examine our Reopening Plan and how we will educate our students for the balance of this school year and into the future, the decisions are guided by the Board-adopted improvement levers,” Bishop said. “They include safety and student social-emotional developmental health; family and community engagement; curriculum development and support; use of data to inform and improve instruction; and fiscal resources.

“We do this all to fulfill our mission: To prepare every student for success beyond graduation.”

Fort Plain bids farewell to retirees

Dawn Surnear opens gifts at retirement event

Fort Plain Central School bid farewell to three long-time employees who are retiring this week from decades of serving the district. Staff and students alike extended their congratulations and best wishes to John Fureno, Dawn Surnear and Philip Thibodeau.

John Fureno is retiring from teaching fifth grade math at Harry Hoag School. He has served Fort Plain for several decades as a general education teacher for multiple grades and as an athletic coach.

“John is a role model for us all, always smiling, always embracing the day with a positive, can-do attitude,” said Lauren Crisman, Harry Hoag principal. “In addition to teaching, John has been a valuable member of the FPCSD athletics department. He has served as a multi-season coach, investing in our young athletes by coaching the sports of golf, bowling and baseball.

“Colleagues and students alike regard John as one of the most kind, endearing and caring faculty members to ever walk the hallways of Harry Hoag Elementary School. He will be deeply missed by all.”

In bidding goodbye to a dedicated teacher, coach and colleague, Fort Plain wishes John all the best in his retirement.

Proud dad: John is at left in the photo below, taken at his son’s graduation from Fort Plain.

John Fureno at his son's graduation


Dawn Surnear
is retiring from her position as head cook in the Harry Hoag School kitchen. She began working for the district in 1999, and has served more than 21 dedicated years in the food service department. Dawn joined the Fort Plain staff because the school hours worked well with her own children’s schedules, and because she enjoys cooking and working with children. She worked her way up from a part-time position to full time and then to head cook.

“Throughout her career, Dawn has enjoyed trying new recipes and helping kids to try new things,” said Lauri Broady, school nutrition director. “She is known for her creativity and the kitchen decorations that have brought joy to students for many years. Dawn has always been a person to step up in a time of crisis, helping in the district in times of everything from floods to COVID. Her dedication to our school community has been admirable, and she will be missed by all.

“Please join us in wishing Dawn well in her well-deserved retirement and her plans to do more traveling, enjoy projects around the house, and continue her love of creating painting, crafts and gifts of all kinds,” Broady added. “Congratulations, Dawn!”

In the photo below, Dawn on the job and at a retirement celebration. Note her shirt: Lunch Ladies Rock!

Dawn Surnear in the kitchen and at the retirement event


Philip Thibodeau
is retiring from teaching health and physical education (PE) at the junior/senior high school. He has taught in the district for 24 years. In addition to teaching, Phil has coached the Hilltoppers in a variety of sports including varsity and modified girls basketball, junior varsity softball, modified soccer and modified, junior varsity and varsity baseball. In 2016, his coaching abilities helped the varsity baseball team become the Class D NYSPHSAA state champions.

“Phil is a quiet force, for good, as a teacher, a coach and a colleague,” said Dr. Deborah Larrabee, Jr./Sr. High School principal. “His uncommon empathy for his students makes him an educator who will long be remembered by those whose lives he has touched.

“He is witty, quick to laugh, and just as quick to say the thing that will get others laughing – often at their own behaviors,” Dr. Larrabee continued. “Phil graduated from Fort Plain in 1983, and returned to his alma mater to help the young people of the community he loves and dedicated himself to. He will be missed, but forever remembered. Thank you, Phil Thibodeau.”

Charlie Karker, athletic director, has known Phil as a Fort Plain student and a colleague. He said, “Phil was known to be very diligent and determined to accomplish what needed to be done in order to become what he wanted to be as an adult and a human being. The same can be said of Phil, the athlete. He was very coachable, did what was asked, and led by example – qualities every coach wants from their athletes.”

Karker quoted football coach, Lou Houltz, to summarize Phil’s philosophy of teaching and coaching. “Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Phil helped foster students’ abilities, attitudes and motivation to help them succeed in school, in sports and in life. Fort Plain will not be the same without him. Fort Plain wishes him a retirement filled with health, fun and happiness.

Phil Thibodeau posing for a photo
Farewell to Phil: Philip Thibodeau on the job at Fort Plain, photoed shortly before his retirement.

Online Parent Forum addresses future of hybrid learning at Harry Hoag

Thank you to all who participated in the January 27 online Parent Forum to share the results of the recent Hybrid Learning Feedback Form and discuss the evolving instructional program at Harry Hoag School.

At the forum, Superintendent of Schools John Bishop and Harry Hoag Principal Lauren Crisman discussed the feedback received, addressed concerns and questions from parents and guardians, and noted that any changes from the current hybrid learning program would not take effect until March at the earliest. Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for students and staff remains the district’s top goal.

The online Parent Forum was similar to those conducted in late August, and was broadcast and recorded on YouTube at https://youtu.be/xaJmskxbDA4.

“The purposes of the forum were to engage, inform and involve our stakeholders in the district’s goal of providing a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff,” said Superintendent Bishop. “We appreciate all who participated and will keep our school community apprised as we continue to develop our instructional plan for Harry Hoag.”

The instructional plan and schedules at the junior/senior high school will remain unchanged this school year.

Anyone who was unable to participate in the forum and has questions, may call or email the Superintendent’s office.

Canajoharie Moose Lodge donates $1,000 to Snack Bag program

Lisa Petty Lori Shults Doc Davis Dr. Deborah Larrabee at check presentation

Each week at Snack Bag time, Lisa Petty’s Life Skills classroom in Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School is a whir of activity as students organize and count, assemble and package, and decorate dozens of bags of meals and snacks to be sent home on Thursdays and Fridays with students in need.

Thanks to the generosity of the Canajoharie Loyal Order of Moose Lodge, the Snack Bags will continue to head home each weekend. On December 9, Doc Davis of the Moose Lodge visited the high school to present a $1,000 donation check to Principal Dr. Deborah Larrabee, Life Skills teacher Lisa Petty and Life Skills teacher assistant Lori Shults. The Moose Lodge is a charity organization, and their donation to the Snack Bag program is just one of the ways they have shown their commitment to the community.

“We are so grateful to Doc Davis and the Moose for their generous support of the Snack Bag program,” Dr. Larrabee said. “Their donation helps us continue a program that serves 19 high school students and 25 elementary school students, helping them with meals and snacks each weekend. The program is also an important instructional activity for our Life Skills class.”

“Our students enjoy getting the Snack Bags weekly,” said Harry Hoag Principal Lauren Crisman. “Each bag is decorated by a member of Mrs. Petty’s class. The students look forward to seeing the unique designs, and they always show appreciation for the delivery. We are grateful for the partnership.”

In addition to preparing the Snack Bags, the Life Skills class delivers them to the elementary school, walking them there when the weather permits.

Prior to the pandemic, the Life Skills students were assisted in preparing the Snack Bags in their classroom by visiting clients from Liberty ARC. Lori Shults, who previously worked with Liberty, praised the partnership. “Many of the clients formed friendships with the Life Skills students and would specifically ask for the Snack Bag assignment.”

“Without the help from Liberty this year,” said Lisa Petty, “our class has risen to the challenge on their own, filling 44 bags each week with tasty fare such as ravioli, cereal, applesauce and pudding, and fun items like goldfish crackers and cookies. We are very grateful to the Moose Lodge for their donation to help us continue the Snack Bag program.”

In addition to recognizing the Canajoharie Moose, Dr. Larrabee noted that Fort Plain faculty and staff have also been very generous in assisting the Snack Bag program and thanked them for their ongoing support.

Photo information

In the photo at top: Doc Davis of the Canajoharie Moose Lodge (third from left) presents a $1,000 check to Life Skills teacher assistant Lori Shults, as Life Skills teacher Lisa Petty (far left) and Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School Principal Dr. Deborah Larrabee (far right) look on during a Dec. 9, 2020 donation ceremony at the school.

In the photo below, Life Skills students and their teacher Lisa Petty pack Snack Bags in their classroom. 

Life Skills students packing Snack Bags in their classroom with teacher Lisa Petty

Harry Hoag 1st Q Honor Roll, Principal’s List announced

Harry Hoag School is proud to announce the 2020-21 first quarter Honor Roll, to which 22 students were named, and Principal’s List, to which 32 students were named. The Honor Roll and Principal’s List recognize outstanding achievement and effort. Congratulations to the following students:

Honor Roll

Grade 5

Alexis Bowley
Sophia Brownell
Emma Dillenbeck
Sedona Horning
George Mang
Sean McGuire
Gabreilla Steinhauer

Grade 6

Ziva Barber
Gamliel Brackett
Kala Clapper
Aaliyah Delgado
Keagan Dodson
Jansheen Haider
Brayden Hakes
Nathalieann Hisert
Brooke Jones
Paige Lochner
Christopher Manchester
Jillian Ryerson
Riley Spraker
Caitlyn Stephens
Jordan Thackrah

Principal’s List

Grade 5

Joseph Barr
Caleigh Bartholomew
Eliyahna Brackett
Dio Callan
Kileigh Cotton
Brianne Gallt
Jordan Gallt
Lincoln Kretser
Elijah Muha
Cristopher Quiroz-Romero
Sawyer Raymond
Elijah Smith
Daija Suits
Dorian Tracki
Evan Weaver

Grade 6

Josiah Darrow
Mason Gray
Lyllie Handy
Hailey Hayes
Levi Hext
Lilly Lapi
Madison Lewis
Elle Nare
Alexis Palmeri
Zionna Robarge
Daniel Robbins
Kendra Sackett
Larry Sanders III
Silas Smith
Brady Spaulding
Landon VanGorder
Cheyanne Wall

Superintendent’s message: Staying safe during the spread of COVID-19

Dear Members of the Fort Plain School Community:

I hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Given the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in our state and region, it is important that we reconnect about how we can work together to keep our schools open and our students learning and growing.

Schools have been recognized by Governor Cuomo and nationally for successfully taking precautions to help control the spread of the virus, and your partnership in these efforts is most appreciated. Thank you.

State and local guidance
I’d like to share information about new guidance from the state on tracking and slowing COVID-19 infection that could potentially impact our school community.

As part of its Micro-Cluster Initiative  and Cluster Action Initiative to slow the spread of the virus, New York State is designating certain geographic areas as Yellow, Orange or Red zones. The zones are based on the prevalence of COVID-19 and take into account multiple factors including numbers of positive tests, hospital capacity, etc. The zones come with certain restrictions and protocols aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, including school-based COVID testing.

While our community is not currently within one of these zones, it is helpful to be aware of this information should it be designated in the future. Our school district continues to work with the Montgomery County Public Health Department and HFM BOCES to stay informed of the guidance and how it affects our students, staff and community.

A proactive partnership
We also continue to work proactively to prevent and limit exposure to the virus in our schools. As I noted earlier, your partnership in this effort is invaluable.

We can all help to promote health and safety in our schools and community by:

  • Wearing masks, practicing social distancing and frequently washing our hands.
  • Adhering to guidelines for sizes of family and social gatherings. (In his Nov. 30 news conference, Governor Cuomo noted that 65% of recent COVID-19 cases have been attributed to small gatherings).
  • Observing updated travel regulations, including quarantine and/or testing requirements.
  • Staying home when we don’t feel well or are having symptoms, and keeping our children home when they are experiencing the same.

Our number one goal in Fort Plain is to provide the safest possible environment for teaching and learning, in order to keep our schools open.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,
John Bishop
Superintendent of Schools

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