SARATOGA SPRINGS – There might not be any records left to break in the near future if Kelsey Chmiel continues at her current pace.
Competing in the 77th Annual William F. Eddy Meet at Schenectady High School on May 20 alongside 11 other Saratoga athletes, Chmiel, a sophomore, competed in the 3,000-meter race event, finishing with a dominant 9 minutes and 18.09 seconds, putting up the best time in the country for the spring 2017 season so far as well as setting the sophomore girls national record in the event. As one might expect, a performance that put national records to shame also left her competition on the day in the dust, as her closest competitor, Burnt Hills senior Eva Scott, finished the race close to a minute and a whole lap behind her at 10 minutes and 9.66 seconds. This was Chmiel’s third year competing at the Eddy Meet.
This performance continues Chmiel’s recent streak of standout performances and broken records. Back in March, at the 2017 New Balance Nationals Indoor national-level track & field event, Chmiel competed in the 2-mile event and ended up with a time of 10 minutes and 12.94 seconds, besting the state record and narrowly edging out the national record as well. Just a little before that, at the NYSPHSAA State Championships, Chmiel set the previous record in the 3,000-meter event for sophomores. At least year’s Eddy Meet, she set the all-time record for the 1,500-meter event in Section II with a time of 4 minutes 23.81 seconds, and also put up a time of 9 minutes and 48.25 seconds in the 3,000-meter race, a time she would best by over 30 seconds just one year later.
“It makes me excited,” Chmiel said about her collection of record-breaking runs. “But I think it also makes me work harder... I’m just gonna keep working at practice and hopefully lower my times.”
“She’s very competitive, she’s very analytical,” assistant coach Linda Kranick said of Chmiel’s consistently excellent performance. “I think this is the fourth national sophomore record she’s broken this school year... Kelsey has high aspirations, and works very hard.”
Kranick, who has been coaching track & field for 37 years and has coached with husband Art Kranick at Saratoga Springs High School since 1985, reckons that Chmiel is one of the best runners she has worked with in her career, if not the best, given her consistent record-breaking performances. Some of this she attributes to the advances in coaching techniques over the years that have allowed them to train faster and faster athletes, but it mostly comes down to Chmiel’s hard work and innate talents.
“Kelsey is very humble, very modest,” Kranick said. “And she understands that she has even farther to go.”
Elsewhere at the meet, senior Mimi Liebers bested the competition to finish first in the 100-meter hurdles event. Liebers will be competing in track and field at the College of the Holy Cross in the fall.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The upcoming Golf Classic and Par-Tee fundraiser event on June 5 is more than just a good deed for a good cause for some of those involved with it. For them, it is also a deeply personal endeavor.
Gathered in the back of a local coffee shop for their usual meeting, several women involved in organizing the upcoming golf fundraiser talked about how the event’s mission to help find a cure for Type-1 diabetes has touched their lives, whether it be that they have lived with the disease themselves, have children with it, or both. Funds raised from the event will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, which helps to fund research into the treatment of Type-1 diabetes.
Type-1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder that hinders the production of insulin in the body. Its causes are unknown, although a family history of the disease is known to increase one’s risk of developing it. It is important to note its differences from Type-2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. Due to the fact that Type-2 accounts for around 90-percent of diabetes cases, public perception can often be that it is the only form of the disease, which is a source of great frustration for those who develop Type-1 through no fault of their dietary or lifestyle choices.
For Joyce Ure, Denise Nicastro, and Karen Larkin, the attachment is through their children, who all live with the disease. When Ure’s son began exhibiting symptoms consistent with Type-1 when he was eight, she thought it could not be true due the lack of history with the disease, but after he was taken to Albany Medical and found to have a blood sugar of 680, the diagnosis was clear. For Ure, the hope for the event is that it will also help spread awareness for the symptoms of the disease. Nicastro’s daughter was diagnosed early in life and is now a student in college. With her daughter so far away most times of the year, it leaves her with a lot of anxiety.
Larkin’s son was diagnosed when he was six, and has lived with the disease for the last four years. Over those years, she has noticed definite improvements in the technology for treating and monitoring diabetic symptoms, a sentiment supported by everyone at the table. A few of them mentioned apps on their phones and watches that allow them to monitor their children’s blood sugar levels at all times anywhere. These technologies were not around only a few years ago, they said, and developments like these show the benefits of raising money for organizations like the JDRF.
For Ellen Brodie, Type-1 is just about her entire life, as both she and her two children are living with the disease.
“My personal attachment is my life, and its my kids’ lives,” Brodie said. “That’s about as personal as it gets.”
The Golf Classic and Par-Tee will be held at Saratoga National Golf Club on June 5, starting at 11:30 a.m. For the first time this year, the Golf Classic and Par-Tee events will be combined into one event, as opposed to years prior when they were separate affairs. The organizers estimated that the two separate events in the past have raised over $200,000 a year for the JDRF. More information about the event can be found online at www.jdrf.org/neny/events/hoffman-car-wash-hoffman-jiffy-lube-golf-classic-and-par-tee/#event-details.
BALLSTON SPA – The second annual Scotties Stampede was another success for the Ballston Spa Central School District. Held on May 20, the 5K race and fundraiser brought in over 200 participants. While an exact figure is not yet available, race director Madeleine Petraglia estimates that several thousand dollars were raised at the event.
Proceeds from the race will go to support the Ballston Spa Partnership for Innovation in Education Fund, a part of the larger Community Foundation for a Greater Capital Region. Some of the programs that the fund supports include Sponsor-A-Scholar, the robotics club, “Performing & Fine Arts” programs, STEM enrichment initiatives, and the Clean Technologies & Sustainable Industries Early College High School. Many of these programs are key reasons why Ballston Spa Central School District has recently been highlighted as featuring one of the best high schools in the nation, being ranked 1,374 out of 22,000 schools by the US News & World Report’s Best High Schools list.
This year’s top three male finishers were Joey Vesic, 16, of Malta – who finished first overall across the entire race – Tyson Evensen, 35, of Saratoga Springs, and Vincent Mascardi III, 15, of Malta. The top three female finishers were Gabby Schreffer, 23, of Betnal, Dana Wiwczar, 41, of Malta, and Katherine Quinn, 20, of Niskayuna. Full race results can be found online at www.albanyrunningexchange.org.
Additionally at the event, the Ballston Spa Teachers Association distributed over 1,200 free books to attendees through their Book Bonanza program. This brings the total number of books the group has distributed over the course of 2017 to over 9,500.
The third annual Scotties Stampede is tentatively scheduled for May 19, 2018.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – History came alive recently for students at Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS).
In the intimate setting of the SSHS teaching auditorium, a little over three classes worth of local students gathered for an assembly on May 24 where seven members of the Adirondack Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association came to share stories from their times serving their country. In attendance to share their stories were Bruce Blackie, Roger Calkins, Eugene Slavin, Paul O’Keefe, Edward Bushey, William Reid, and Robert Garland. After each speaker rose to give the audience a salute, Blackie spoke first, introducing the group’s intention to shed a light on what many have termed the “Forgotten War.”
“What we wanna do is put a personal face on what you read in the history books,” Blackie said. He continued, noting the historically significant facets of the Korean War: it was the first war in American history with no formal congressional declaration to mark the country’s entrance into it, and it ended not with a victory on either side, but with a ceasefire that holds to this day.
Calkins spoke next, first noting how each speaker had lived through WWII, which ended just five years before the start of the Korean War, and how at the time the feeling of peace was such that few thought that it would ever end, let alone so soon after. He then took students through the shape of the lands controlled by the North and the South over the course of three years, starting with the divisions of the country made by the United States and the Soviet Union after WWII, see-sawing back and forth from Northern to Southern control, before finally ending with the current dividing line at the 38th Parallel, currently known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
“It all happened very fast,” Calkins said.
O’Keefe spoke next, bringing a much more personal angle to his talk, telling the story of how he came to be involved in the war, and how things went for himself and his friends afterwards. O’Keefe graduated from Mechanicville High School only four days before the war began. Alongside himself, a good friend of his from school, Raymond Waldron, was also drafted, and he told the audience to remember that name, as he would be coming back to it. Before basic training, O’Keefe had never held any sort of weapon before.
“Not even a BB gun,” O’Keefe said.
Speaking of his time on the battlefield, he noted how the life of a soldier felt like being an animal.
“Your home is now a hole in the ground,” he said, telling the students about foxholes.
Coming back to his friend Waldron, O’Keefe told the story of how surprised he was to see a friend from home in the army with himself. Later on, he told students about how Waldron went on to attend Ithaca College, and eventually became a coach and respected athletic director at SSHS, despite at one time being among their bitter rivals on the sports team in Mechanicville. Waldron’s esteem within the community was so great that a street was named after him, Coach Waldron Way, just off of Washington Street in Saratoga Springs.
O’Keefe concluded his portion by highlighting the some of the graduating Blue Streaks who would be going on to attend military academies in the fall, including student athletes Hunter Choy and Will Navin, who were in attendance.
After each speaker had told their stories, they opened up the floor for student questions. Choy and Navin each came with the kinds of specific questions befitting soon-to-be members of the Armed Forces. Choy asked about the tactics employed by the forces they interacted with in Korea, to which many of the men recalled the overwhelming numbers mobilized by the Chinese, who fought on the side of North Korea alongside the Soviet Union. Navin wanted to know about the public’s perceptions of the war at the time, which according to the men was something like ignorance, as many people seemed unaware of the war. Upon returning home from combat, a few speakers recalled how many people at home were not aware that they had been gone for so long on account of the war.
Along with sharing stories from their times in the service, the speakers also stressed how important it is to honor those servicemen and women who were not lucky enough to come back, an appropriate message so close to Memorial Day.
“It is a day to remember those who never got to take their uniforms off,” O’Keefe said about the upcoming day of remembrance.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA COUNTY – Voters across New York State took to the polls at their local schools to vote on proposed budgets, board of education elections, and the odd proposition. Across the board in Saratoga County, budgets were passed and propositions were approved. Here are some of things that area voters decided to approve:
Saratoga Springs City School District:
-$122,712,342 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV: Passed
-Establishment of Capital Reserves Fund to ““finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations”: Passed
Ballston Spa Central School District:
-$90,340,742 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of buses and vehicles, $907,000: Passed
-Public library funding, $55,650: Passed
-Creation of Ballston Area Recreation Commission, $30,000: Passed
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District:
-$64,492,019 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Creation of student-held school board position: Authorized
Schuylerville Central School District:
-$34,849,537 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Bus leasing proposition: Passed
-Schuylerville Public Library funding: Passed
South Glens Falls Central School District: -$57,842,074 2017-18 budget: Passed -Purchase of five buses, one with wheelchair option, and one vehicle: Passed
Galway Central School District: -$21,058,918 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase four school buses: Passed
Mechanicville City School District: -$25,480,499 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase school bus: Passed -Sale of 0.44 acres of land on Elizabeth St. to Saratoga County for $1,000 for expansion of the Zim Smith trail: Approved
SCHUYLERVILLE – Continuing the trend of raising money to fight cancer last weekend, the Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse team hosted a benefit shootout to raise money for the family of community member Mike Podkladek, who is currently in treatment for a brain tumor. The event was held at Schuyler Park on May 13, and the team estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people were in attendance. In all, over $8,000 was raised for the Podkladek family.
Mike Podkladek, along with wife Beth, is a member of the Schuylerville community and the parent of three – Jordan, Callie, and Braden. In the past, he has frequently volunteered in his children’s sports, including softball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. In November of 2016, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required surgery. After having his initial tumor removed, pathology reports came back which said that he had Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an untreatable cancerous brain tumor. He has since been fortunate enough to be entered into a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, where he and his wife travel to for treatments every other Tuesday.
The event saw 14 5-6 grade youth lacrosse teams from across the area in attendance. During the scheduling meeting back in March, Schuylerville coach Wayne Durr asked the others teams if they would be willing to attend the event. Upon hearing that it would be a benefit, many local programs cancelled their round robins in order to attend. Teams from Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Columbia, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Scotia, and Stillwater made it to the event. Each team competed in three games and took part in a “Fastest Shot” competition.
The Podkladek family is still accepting donations from the public through a GoFundMe page. Any readers interested in donating to the family should go to www.gofundme.com/mike-podkladek-family-support-fund.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This year’s senior game carried extra importance for the Saratoga Varsity baseball team.
In addition to honoring the team’s senior players, the May 13 non-league game against Schuylerville was also used to raise money for cancer research. To this end, the team raised money in a number of ways, including selling t-shirts. Saratoga Coach Andy Cuthbertson decided that the money should be raised in the name of Tracy Hogben, a long-time Saratoga Springs City School District substitute teacher, recent full-time employee at Lake Avenue Elementary, and parent of five children currently enrolled in the district alongside her husband, Gordon. Three of their children – Gordon Jr., Harrison, and Griffin – play baseball for Saratoga.
On Oct. 18 of last year, Hogben suffered a seizure at home, which led to her diagnosis on Oct. 25 of a Right Frontal Lobe Primary Brain Tumor. After 13 days at Albany Medical Center and a craniotomy, Hogben was found to have an Oligodendreglioma, a Grade 2 primary brain tumor.
Hogben attended the benefit game and threw out the first pitch in front of around 500 people in attendance. Both the Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville communities have taken part in raising money, and have, as of May 16, raised $4,989. Donations are still being collected, and once collection is finished, the money will be donated to the Albany Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.
“The community did a fantastic job of stepping up to support one of our own families in need,” Robin Chudy said. “The money raised will be a donation to Albany Medical Center as it will provide resources to continue to look for possible cures for cancer.”
According to Chudy, many parents got involved by setting up food tables for the game, as well as by creating a program for the game that included pages dedicated to the Hogben family, as well as pages for all seven senior players. Far from just working towards a noble cause, it was a great day all around for the Blue Streaks as they beat Schuylerville 6-0.
Al photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Officially known as MB 360, the Saratoga-Skidmore Consulting Partnership (SSCP) offers invaluable benefits to both Skidmore College students and local businesses. Headed by Colleen Burke, SSCP gives students from a variety of degree paths hands-on experience working as consultants for local businesses.
For the businesses themselves, they gain insights from a diverse and often international pool of young minds. Students in the program come from degree paths as varied as business management, English, psychology, and more, as well from countries all over the world, like Japan, Swaziland, Haiti, Germany, and Brazil.
As a manager in the program, Maya Reyes has been with SSCP for two semesters. During her time, she worked with Saratoga TODAY to help the publication stream-line its visual identity, as before, the design would vary significantly from page to page. Reyes and her team helped the paper develop its “blue box” strategy, making it cohesive across the whole publication.
“We undertake a lot of market research, including extensive focus groups and group surveys, so we learn how to do those things at a professional level,” Reyes said about the academic benefits of the program.
Robert Pierce is another student who has been with the program for the last two semesters. Among the projects he has been a part of, perhaps the biggest was with Death Wish Coffee. After the local extra-strength coffee company landed a commercial during Super Bowl L in 2016, the company’s national profile grew exponentially. Pierce and his group helped the company scale its practices to help meet higher demand while staying as efficient as before.
Pierce also worked with Battenkill Valley Creamery – run by Skidmore alum Seth McEachron – to help the company develop new growth strategies that focused on telling the company’s history.
“This course has been everything for me,” Pierce said. “It’s all I talk about in job interviews, it’s all employers ask about, and... I can talk about this course for hours on end. Professor Colleen Burke has been the most supportive figure in my life, in regards to job hunting, motivating me, and helping me find my true skills.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In a talk full of warmth, humanity, and disarming humor, Holocaust survivor Hedi McKinley spoke to an audience of Saratoga Springs High School students about the horrors she escaped and about the things she hoped people would take away from her story.
The school’s Loewenburg Auditorium was packed for the assembly on May 16. According to Ron Schorpp, a teacher who helped bring McKinley to the school, eight classes had confirmed that they would be coming beforehand, with an estimated 12 showing up in total. In addition, students had permission to leave their classes to attend if they wished.
McKinley was 18-years-old in Austria when she remembers the Nazis arriving in her hometown, noting that November 1938 had been the coldest month for the country in 20 years. Around 10 p.m. one night, she answered the door to find two boys, about 16, ordering them to get out. While they were told not to bring any of their possessions, McKinley managed to hide the house keys in her bra, which she credits with saving her life. With the help of her then-boyfriend Max – being half Jewish and half Catholic, he was permitted to wear a Nazi armband and stay safe on the streets – she fled to England, where she had been able to secure a travel visa by writing letters to names in a phone book asking for a job as a scullery maid. While she made it safely out of the country, she would lose at least 12 family members to the Holocaust.
In one of her moments of unexpected humor, McKinley noted how she had a rough time making it as a maid at first.
“I couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I couldn’t even boil and egg.”
Later, thanks to an American uncle, McKinley was able to come to America, albeit without Max, who deemed the country “fascist.”
After finishing her story, McKinley took questions from the audience, most of which were about her life since making it to America as a refugee. She talked about returning to Austria and her hometown, a painful trip which she nonetheless makes frequently. Since she now receives sums of money from the Austrian government as recompense, she prefers to give the money back to the people of Austria. On these return trips, she spends the money on “whipped cream and chocolate cake,” as well as Austrian white wine, which she recommended heartily. She also told her story of visiting Max years after leaving him to go to America, humorously noting that he married a woman who “looked just like” her. Ultimately, she was glad not to have married him. One of the biggest eruptions of laughter from the assembly came when she recounted first seeing Adolf Hitler in a procession through her hometown.
“He was not a very good looking man,” she said.
Photo header by Thomas Kika.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A handful of senior athletes from Saratoga Springs will be embarking on an exciting new journey next fall.
Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS) seniors Matthew Chmiel, Hunter Choy, Dane Feldhaus, Will Navin, and Gregory Polmatier will each be attending military academies this coming fall after graduation. Chmiel, a member of the Varsity Tennis team, will be attending the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Choy, a member of both the Soccer and Track & Field teams, will be attending The United States Military Academy in West Point, New York; Feldhaus, a member of the Varsity Football team, will be attending the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York; Navin, a runner with both the Cross Country and Track & Field teams, will also be attending West Point; and Polmatier, a member of both the Varsity Lacrosse and Boys Volleyball teams, will be attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Chmiel is a three-year veteran of the Varsity Tennis team at SSHS. Last year, he and the rest of the team made it all the way to claim sectional titles. He currently plays doubles. He first started considering pursuing a military career after high school only a few years ago while witnessing a friend go through the application process. Not having any military history in his family, it was not something he ever thought about in his youth. He attributes his decision to apply to the Air Force Academy to his interest in studying aeronautical engineering, as well as to a general interest in military aircraft.
“I’m very excited,” Chmiel said. “I’m humbled to have the opportunity. It was such a competitive process. I know that there’s gonna be a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m ready to put in whatever it takes.
As a member of the Varsity Soccer team, Choy made it to the position of Captain after serving as the starting goalkeeper. He has also competed in Track & Field events. Attending the Military Academy at West Point has been an almost life-long dream for Choy, ever since he read a biography of General George S. Patton in second grade that inspired him to serve his country.
“I’m super excited. It’s been a long time coming,” Choy said. “It’s been a very long process and I’m extremely humbled to be able to pursue this career in the army.”
Feldhaus’s athletic history at SSHS began on the freshman baseball and football teams in ninth grade, and since then he as played on both the JV and Varsity football teams. For a long time, he knew that he wanted to get involved with either the Navy or the Marine Corps, but was never sure in what way. Having been urged to study engineering by his mother, he found the Merchant Marine Academy at a college fair, and found that it satisfied both goals, to serve his country and to study engineering.
“It’s been a long process, maybe like a 13-month application. It just never really seems to end,” Feldhaus said. “So, I’m really excited to get there and get it going.”
Navin has been involved with the track team since his freshman year at SSHS. Over the course of his varsity career, he has been the Captain of the Track & Field team, competed in the Suburban Council All-Stars team two years in a row, and set a school record in the 4x800 meter relay. West Point has been his goal since elementary school, having always wanted to serve his country from a young age.
“It’s hard to believe it’s still true,” Navin said. “I really can’t believe it, and I’m really excited.”
Polmatier has been involved in athletics since seventh grade. His varsity career began in his sophomore year when he joined the Varsity Lacrosse team. He has since served as the Captain of that team in both his junior and senior years. He also played on the Varsity Volleyball team in his junior and senior years, serving as Captain for the team as a senior. He believes that his love of sports and his desire to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis are tied up in the same principles.
“When I’m having the most fun ever is when I’m competing with a group and working hard,” Polmatier said. “And that’s kinda the core of what the military is, just teamwork and relying on that person next to you, which is why I have a fondness for sports, and what’s led me to my interest in the military academies.”
Each of the student athletes said that they intend to continue on with athletics while attending their respective schools.
All photos by Thomas Kika.