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Fort Plain schools reopened on Monday, Sept. 14 under the hybrid instruction model. View our Back-to-School Information Guides: Harry Hoag Elementary SchoolJr./Sr. High School

FPHS science teacher blasts off into new career

Patrick wearing a space suit, holding helmet

Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School science teacher Patrick Petty will blast off into a new career later this month, after accepting a position as an education specialist with NASA. Petty, a Fort Plain Class of 2007 alumnus who’s taught Hilltoppers since fall 2018, will help develop projects in NASA’s NSPACE program. He’ll work remotely at first, due to the pandemic, and in time will relocate to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Petty’s new position is a dream job for an individual who is as much a dedicated, lifelong learner as an energetic and innovative educator. “I’ve always been interested in learning new things, in what’s on the cutting edge in research and knowledge at NASA,” he said.

“I’ve attended a number of NSPACE curriculum conferences in Houston, and last February, I was a presenter at a Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) through NASA and Space Center Houston (the Johnson Space Center Visitor’s Center).” In June 2019, Petty was one 50 educators nationwide to attended the LiftOff Summer Institute.

“As an education specialist with NASA’s NSPACE program,” Petty said, “I’ll work with college and high school students to develop real-world projects with real-world applications that can ultimately be used on the International Space Station.”

Past NSPACE projects have included the design and testing of hardware to be used on the Space Station, such as tools, and fabric that could be used for seat covers.

Petty speaks highly of his Fort Plain education. “My teachers instilled in us the power of dreams and the belief that with hard work and a dream, you can accomplish anything,” he said. “Fort Plain truly is a special place; the community and the educators are top-notch.

“The passion, dedication and belief in their students create a learning environment where students can dare mighty things and accomplish even greater things,” Petty continued. “For such a small town, we have had numerous individuals go on to accomplish amazing feats. There is talent in every zip code, and it is the job of educators to harness the talent and let it shine. In my mind, Fort Plain Central School does a wonderful job with that!”

“While we are sad to see him leave, we could not be more thrilled for Patrick,” said Fort Plain High School Principal Dr. Deborah Larrabee. “He has brought back so much information from conferences and infused it into our classrooms. I am incredibly proud of him for securing his dream job!”

“What a great opportunity for Patrick!” said Fort Plain Superintendent of Schools John Bishop. “We are grateful for the years he spent serving the students of the Fort Plain school community. NASA is lucky to have him. Congratulations!”

During his time at Fort Plain, Petty frequently shared his experiences and knowledge with students beyond those in his own classroom. After attending the LiftOff Summer Institute, he arranged a video chat for 8th grade students with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill. He also taught students in Lisa Petty’s Life Skills class how to launch rockets outdoors as part of a science lesson.

“Patrick has always included my class in lessons, and he really connects with students at all levels,” said Lisa Petty (who is also Patrick’s mother). “I have gone to conferences with him, and he is so passionate about what he does. Our students definitely want to keep in touch!”

Judging from the past, space won’t be the final frontier for NASA-related learning for Fort Plain students. Patrick Petty does indeed plan to stay connected with his alma mater to share learning opportunities and inspire local students. When asked for parting advice for them, Petty said, “Dream big, and don’t be afraid to take a big leap. The world doesn’t end at the four corners of town.”

In the photo at top of page: Patrick Petty donned a space suit during a NASA conference for educators. His last day at Fort Plain is Jan. 15, but he’ll continue to educate and inspire students in his new position with NASA’s NSPACE program.  

Living Environment students work on an asteroid project

In the photo above, students in Patrick Petty and Dorene Goodwin’s Living Environment class were challenged to design a shield to protect Earth from an asteroid. They are working with students in Indiana on the project.

In the photo below, Patrick Petty teaches Living Environment students  about the anatomy of a sheep’s eye.

Patrick Petty teaches Living Environment students about a sheep eye


Challenges inspire creativity and thrift in the kitchen

They’re getting creative in the kitchen, dining on a dime and working on wellness-worthy meals. Students in Cory Cooley’s 7th grade, Food and Nutrition, and Life On Your Own classes have been meeting their teacher’s challenges with tasty results.

For their Eating on a Dime lesson, 7th grade students were challenged to use ingredients limited to what’s already at home, or using just a few ingredients, to make a breakfast egg bake.

Starting with just biscuits and eggs, the students generated many tasty recipes. They added bacon, ham, sausage, spinach and cheese. Some students scrambled the eggs, while others left them whole. Others added various spices, and some added leftovers such as potatoes and roasted vegetables to their breakfast egg bakes.

The class was also challenged to create an apple pie dessert using a recipe with just two ingredients, plus what they found around the kitchen. The students then got to enjoy their sweet results.

For the Grilled Cheese Challenge, 7th grade and Food and Nutrition students were tasked with taking what they would ordinarily have at home and fit within their budget and making it a bit more healthful. They got creative and scored awards for the Best Plated, Most Creative and Best grilled cheese sandwiches.

Students in the Life On Your Own classes were not to be outdone. A three-day Holiday on a Dime challenge tasked them with making a gingerbread house -or something else – using minimal ingredients and what they had on hand in their classroom.

“Plan, paste and present!” Cory Cooley said about the challenge. “As you can see, the students are very hands-on and were comfortable in that arena. Jose created a peppermint roof house, Briana a blue icing house, Cam a jacked-up pickup and Tyler a truck with green trim and gifts in its bed. Spirits were high!”

View the students creations below and more photos of the recent challenges on our Facebook  page.

Teacher showing student how to use pastry bag, graham cracker gingerbread creations, student holding grilled cheese sandwich


Celebrating Pythagorean Theorem Day 21st Century

four math teachers wearing t-shirts about Pythagorean Theorem Day

They were there: FPHS math teachers Mr. Santiago, Mrs. Capece, Mrs. Summerfield and Mrs. Waner recently sported bright pink Pythagorean Theorem Day 21st Century t-shirts. 12/16/20 was a Pythagorean Triple, which means that 12 squared + 16 squared = 20 squared.

The next two Pythagorean Theorem Days will be 7/24/25 and 10/24/26. Their shirts also show the dates of previous such days. Math is cool and so are our teachers.

Kristy’s Closet thanks community donors

hoodies and shirts folded on a table makeup bags on a table

Kristy’s Closet, which helps Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School students in need of clothing and personal care items, recently received some generous donations from the community.

Thank you to Curtis and Carrie Smith, who donated 30 makeup bags; to Brenda Hill of the Tilted Cone, who donated 100 shampoos, conditioners, body wash and soaps; and to Bev Dingmon, who donated hoodies, long sleeve t-shirts and hats for boys and girls.

For anyone who wishes to add to the closet: More hoodies would be appreciated (size M-XL in any color), as well as long-sleeve graphic t-shirts. Contact

Talented athletes Troy Butler and Sarah Paradiso celebrating signing

Sarah hitting volleyball, Sarah and Troy standing together, Troy at bat during baseball game

They practiced, they competed, they shared their hard work on the baseball diamond and volleyball court with college representatives, and it all paid off. Talented Fort Plain senior athletes Troy Butler and Sarah Paradiso celebrated signing with Binghamton University and Keuka College at a December 15 ceremony at their high school.

The signing ceremony was postponed from its original date in early November due to Fort Plain’s temporary transition to remote learning. Troy and Sarah decided to wait to have their ceremony until school reopened, rather than celebrate virtually.

At the afternoon event, which was covered by the Daily Gazette, Troy and Sarah talked about how they connected with college recruiters despite a pandemic and attending a relatively small high school.

Troy chose to play baseball at Division I Binghamton over Siena, UAlbany,  Rutgers, UMass, Maine and University of Maryland. He said he increased his exposure to recruiters by participating in college showcases and playing near and far with the Capital Region Renegades baseball travel team.

“We were all over this side of the country, all summer,” he told the Gazette reporter at the signing ceremony. “I had to get out, had to get my name out there first before they could start coming to me. I went to as many showcases as I could. After that, the phone started ringing.”

Troy noted that Binghamton liked him and he liked Binghamton. The university met his goals of playing at a Division 1 school that offers strong academic and athletic programs. He encouraged other student-athletes to pursue their dreams by putting in hard work and effort.

Sarah Paradiso shines on the court

Sarah has been a standout player on Fort Plain’s volleyball team. She played at a number of college showcases last year, and her skill on the court caught the eye of Keuka College coach Quinn Wright. Keuka is a Division III College located southeast of Rochester, in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.

After that showcase, Sarah received an email from Wright and met with him via Zoom.  She told the Gazette reporter, “I did some research on my own, took a virtual tour, it had to be virtual my first time, and then I verbally committed our second or third meeting after talking to another player. It just felt right.”

Looking beyond college, perhaps Fort Plain’s hallways and volleyball court will see Sarah return to share her knowledge and experience: she plans to major in education at Keuka College.

“Sarah and Troy are outstanding students, outstanding athletes and true leaders,” said Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School Principal Dr. Deborah Larrabee. “I have watched them on the playing fields. They stand tall with their teammates and coaches. They never make excuses; they just play and they play hard.

“We share in their happiness as National Signing Day marks the end of one journey and the beginning of the next,” Dr. Larrabee added. “Keuka and Binghamton are so very fortunate to have these athletes, and we look forward to what the future holds for Sarah and Troy.”

Congratulations to Sarah and Troy. Go Hilltoppers!

Sarah seated at table with coaches, brother and parents
In the photo above: In the back row, Coach Brad Niles, Coach Lisa Trembley, Sarah’s brother, Anthony Paradiso, and Coach John Fureno. In the front row, Sarah and her parents.

Troy with his coaches and parents In the photo above: In the back row, Coach Craig Phillips, Coach John Fureno. In the front row, Troy and his parents.


Troy and Sarah seated at table signing commitment letters

HS picture retakes are Dec. 21 & 22

Lifetouch school picture retakes for Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School will be on Monday, Dec. 21 (grades 10, 11, 12) and Tuesday, Dec. 22 (Grades 7, 8, 9). Order envelopes are available in the high school main office. To order online, go to and use picture day ID: EVTGP423P

Please contact Mrs. Linda Cole in the high school with any questions at

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

Virtual HS Open House/Meet the Teachers – Part IV

What do you do when you can’t bring families into school for fall open house and meet the teachers night? You bring the event to them!

Presenting Part IV of Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School’s Fall 2020 Virtual Open House/Meet the Teachers. Our faculty and staff welcome you to virtually visit their classrooms and work spaces and share in their students’ experiences through videos they created just for this event.

We have been highlighting a few departments each week. For this final part of our series, view our videos from our Math, Spanish, Counseling and Academic Coaching Center departments.

Math Department Video (Laurie Capece, Sue Summerfield, Deb Waner, Lucas Santiago)

Spanish Department Video (Melanie Pombrio & Patti Jarabek)

Counseling with Kayla Mahoney

Academic Coaching Center
Denise Smith

View Mrs. Smith’s tour of the Academic Coaching Center
View a video about Apex Learning
Visit the Academic Coaching Center webpage

Academic Coaching Center
Kristy McFee

Winter sports sign-ups

Attention Fort Plain High School students:

Please complete the Google Form linked below if you are a student in grades 9 thru 12 and are interested in participating in a winter sport. Low and moderate risk sports (bowling and swimming) are scheduled to begin on December 14. High Risk sports are tentatively scheduled to begin on January 4.

Link to Google Form to sign up for a winter sport:

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