Fort Plain wins $2,500 literacy grant

The Fort Plain Central School District has won a $2,500 Dollar General Youth Literacy grant.

The grant will benefit 40 readers in the Jr./Sr. High School in grades 8-9 who will participate in “LEGOS for Literacy.”

Instruction will take place during reading class and in the library, using LEGO WeDo 2.0 coding kits. The goal is for students to increase competency in reading fiction and functional passages. It is expected that participants will increase these reading skills by one grade level from September 2017 to May 2018.

Heroes and Sweethearts come to Harry Hoag

Facebook Gallery of the Heroes and Sweethearts Presentation

Students throughout Fort Plain’s Harry Hoag Elementary School donned capes and masks and stood up for what was right in the gymnasium on Friday.

A Fort Plain student roleplays as a superhero during an assembly at Harry hoag Elementary school.
A hero rises.

They stood up to play-acting bullies and conquered fears with self-confidence with the help of Tom Murphy, Rick Yarosh, and Amos (Yarosh’s black labrador assistant) from the Sweethearts and Heroes motivational speaking program.

“We aim to educate student not just in the traditional academics, but also in social and emotional settings. We want to help our student continue to grow into great people,” said Harry Hoag principal Lauren Chrisman. “Having Sweethearts and Heroes come in to speak with our students gives them a different perspective on the world and also the tools to be advocates for themselves and one another.”

The speaking duo and four-legged assistant are part of a group that bring a message to students around the country about the impact bullying has on schools, neighborhoods, and individuals. On Friday, they spoke about bystander empowerment, empathy and leadership to all of the elementary audiences.

A pair of Fort Plain students role play in the Heroes and Sweethearts presentation.
A hero stands up.

“Through knowledge and communication, we are committed to bringing our message to communities — not only to help the victims, but especially to empower bystanders to make a difference,” the group’s website sweetheartsandheroes.com says. “We all have the potential to be someone’s hero. The message is so universal that it can help create climates of empathy, kindness and leadership in all settings.”

A Fort Plain student talks to Amos the dog during the presentation on Friday.Murphy, who graduated from Cooperstown High School, was an academic and athletic star at the State University of New York at Brockport. With a variety of professional interests – he is a railroad control specialist, martial artist, and restaurateur – he brought passion and comedy along with his message of heroes having empathy and compassion for others.

Yarosh, who was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2006, delivered his own message about sweethearts giving him self-confidence and how Fort Plain students can do that for each other. He told a story about a five-year old girl accepting him despite the fact that he looks different due to his injuries.

“Sweethearts like her are unforgettable. A five-year old girl changed a 24-year old guy’s life,” he said. “You can do that too. You can do that everyday. You can help make another person’s life better.”

Embedded YouTube video of Sweethearts and Heroes anti-bullying organization

Three new teachers join Harry Hoag faculty

The school year isn’t new for just the students at the Fort Plain Central School District’s Harry Hoag Elementary School.

Four new teachers are entering their first year with the district across the school and they all come from a variety of backgrounds.

Ashley Smith

Photo of new teacher Ashley SmithSmith will teach kindergarten this year.

After getting her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the State University of New York at Cobleskill she earned her master’s from the College of St. Rose (Albany) also in Early Childhood Education.

“My favorite kind of ice cream is chocolate peanut butter cup from Stewarts,” she said. “I like to hang out with friends, go fishing, and spend time with my family. I am looking forward to working with my fellow kindergarten teachers, meeting all of my new students and their families, and fulfilling my dream of being a teacher.”

Smith grew up in Fort Plain and has always wanted to be a teacher in her hometown.

Denis DeRider

Photo of new teacher Denis DeRiderDeRider will be a 15:1 Special Education teacher this year.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Cortland where he majored in Sports Management and Marketing. He stayed on at Cortland to get his master’s degree.

“I am looking forward to meeting all of my new students,” Rider said. “I really enjoy coaching soccer, hiking, kayaking, and anything else outside.”

Incidentally, his favorite kind of ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.

Elizabeth Bauer

Photo of new teacher Elizabeth BauerBauer joins the Harry Hoag team as a new speech and language teacher.

“I’m looking forward to helping students learn and grow their vocabulary and improve their verbal and written communication skills while doing things that are fun and interesting,” Bauer said.

She majored in Communication Disorders and Sciences at the State University of New York at Geneseo as an undergraduate and then earned a masters in Speech/Language Pathology from the College of St. Rose.

Bauer enjoys chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, hiking, camping, skiing, and playing with her sons.

Backpacks delivered to Harry Hoag Elementary School for those in need

We would like to extend great thanks to the, “Smile Committee,” of Hill and Markes, Inc. who raised enough money to fund a donation of over 60 fully-stocked backpacks for students in Harry Hoag Elementary School this fall.

Also, specific thanks to Linda Vidulich and Yvonne Masi who dropped off the backpacks this morning to Principal Lauren Crisman.

Packs will be given to students in need at the start of the school year. However, even though supplies are limited, if you know a student that could benefit from the donation contact the Harry Hoag Elementary School Main Office at 518-993-4000 ext. #3013.

Harry Hoag Elementary School instructional day to start at 8:05 a.m., end at 2:45 p.m.

The start of the instructional day at Harry Hoag Elementary School in the Fort Plain Central School District will move back seven minutes to 8:05 a.m. with the start of the 2017-18 academic year. Dismissal will also move back seven minutes to 2:45 p.m.

The new times will allow for a smoother dismissal process.

All buses will be present at the dismissal of elementary school students. As in the past, parents picking up students can do so outside of the kindergarten wing.

The current Junior/Senior High School bell schedule – 8 a.m.-2:38 p.m. – will remain the same.

For more information contact the district office at (518) 993-4000.

Checkmate – The Harry Hoag Elementary Chess Club

Harry Hoag Chess Club had approximately 30 students in grades 3rd – 6th participate in Chess Club this year. They met on Tuesdays in the Elementary School library where they learned about the “Game of Kings” over the last three months. They were guided in their discovery by advisors Mr. and Mrs. Arndt. Several high school student volunteers, including Bradley Najdek (grade 10), Shawn Murphy, Chris Burgess and Cameron Tamsett (all grade 8) assisted the chess club.

Club members practiced fundamentals including board set-up and starting combinations and learned important skills. More advanced players studied beginning and intermediate level strategy.

According to ConnectionsAcademy.com, some benefits for elementary students who play chess are:

Chess playing improves concentration and memory. According to studies done at the University of Memphis, playing chess significantly improves children’s visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability.

Chess playing enhances reading and math skills. Researchers found that students who played chess showed more improvement in reading and/or math assessment scores than their non-chess-playing peers.

Chess playing fosters logic, critical thinking, and creativity. Chess favors the “if–then” thinker. “If I move here, then my opponent may move here, here, or even here.” That’s logic and critical thinking in action.

Playing chess also encourages and rewards hard work. Chess offers immediate feedback. Lose your focus, lose a piece.

Mosaic murals almost complete

Harry Hoag fourth-grade students are putting the finishing touches on mosaic murals they have been working on since September. This is the second year students have had the opportunity to work with visiting artist Linda Biggers, thanks to a $3,000 grant received from the Saratoga Arts Council. Saratoga Arts made this program possible with an Arts Education Grant funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

 In collaboration with their social studies unit, students are creating three murals (a triptych) of the Erie Canal. Historian Dave Brooks of Schoharie Crossing kicked off the unit in September with a presentation about the canal. Students then selected images from his presentation that they wanted to feature in their artwork.

Ms. Biggers visits the school a total of five times to instruct and guide students on working with glass to create the murals. She works alongside Fort Plain art teacher, Autumn Slawienski.

Last year’s classes created a mosaic mural featuring historical landmarks and architecture from around Fort Plain which now hangs outside the cafeteria at Harry Hoag. “This program has been so successful, we are hoping to continue next year with plans to depict the current and future projects along the river,” said art teacher Autumn Slawienski.

This year’s murals will be finished by the Christmas break and turned over to Ms. Biggers for grout and drying. They will then be returned to the school for display.

Harry Hoag receives 10 boxes of donated books

On Friday, Dec. 9, NYSUT LRS Kevin Grossman dropped off 10 boxes of books to SRP President Mark Hisert and FPTA President Pat Hanifin. NYSUT is putting first books in the hands of students with the help of the non-profit organization First Book Inc., and the American Federation of Teachers a NYSUT national affiliate. Books are made available at low to no cost to high-needs schools and nonprofit programs serving low-income families and kids in need.

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