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Displaying items by tag: Ballston Spa High School
Valedictorian: Sabrina Hu
Sabrina Hu is the Class of 2021 Valedictorian of Ballston Spa High School. She has excelled in a rigorous course load and will receive a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Mathematics and Science. By starting high school level courses in middle school, Sabrina has taken 8 AP classes, 2, 2 year IB classes, 4 CHS courses. Sabrina’s cumulative GPA is a remarkable 98.967.
Sabrina is a College Board’s National Merit Scholarship Commended Student and is a AP Scholar with Honors. She has been a three season athlete participating in indoor and outdoor track and also cross country where she has received her first varsity letter as a freshman. She is a varsity member and Co-President of the Science Olympiad team which the team has qualified for states the past 2 consecutive years. Sabrina has personally placed in the top 6 at Science Olympiad regionals in every event that she has participated in. Additionally, Sabrina has volunteered over 200 hours in the community, many of her recent volunteer efforts have been at the Saratoga EOC soup kitchen.
Sabrina is a well-rounded individual who will be pursuing a degree in biology in college. Ballston Spa knows Sabrina will be successful in her future, due to her work ethic, perseverance and personal drive.
Salutatorian: Chloe Reisinger
Chloe Reisinger is the Class of 2021 Salutatorian of Ballston Spa High School. She has excelled in a rigorous course load and will receive a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Honors with Mastery in Mathematics and Science. By starting high school level courses in middle school, Chloe was able to enroll in 8 AP classes, 4 IB classes, and 4 CHS/UHS classes. Chloe’s cumulative GPA is a remarkable 98.852.
Chloe has a love for learning and last summer studied biology at the Harvard Summer Program. She is also a very talented writer and was published in the Young Writers of America “Scary Sagas” book and was chosen as the local winner for the Voice of Democracy Essay Scholarship from the VFW Post 385. Additionally, she shines as a theatrical performer and has been able to share her talents in many musical theater shows, including staring as Sophie in Mamma Mia. Chloe is also a dedicated athlete and has been a member of our girls’ lacrosse team since her freshmen year.
Chloe is a very bright and ambitious individual who plans to pursue a career in medicine and will be pursuing a degree in Biochemistry or Cellular and Molecular Biology. Ballston Spa knows Chloe will be successful in her future endeavors due to her work ethic, personal drive, and caring personality.
Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.
BALLSTON SPA — The Ballston Spa High School (BSHS) varsity girl’s tennis team is kicking this season into high gear as they enter their first year competing in the Section AA league.
“Last year we were section finalist in the A’s and we move up to AA’s this year so it’s gonna change a little bit as far as our goals,” said Coach Mark Rabideau.
Coach Rabideau has coached the BSHS varsity tennis teams for eight years after volunteering for the job. This is their first year the team’s moved up to become a Section double A team, and they are excited to begin playing new schools including Bethlehem and Saratoga Springs.
The team is not only excelling on the courts, but as student athletes as well. While the coach doesn’t hold them to a specific academic requirement, the team does a pretty good job of averaging grade percentages in the mid 90’s.
“We always stress the student first and then the athlete. And we are constantly stressing the importance of the classroom and then seeing tennis as a bonus to that,” said Coach Rabideau. “We really lean on our captains (Kaia Anderson and Madison Galvin) and our seniors to model that. We always hold ourselves pretty high in the classroom and academics. Typically, we do pretty well in that regard.”
This year’s starting team is a majority of upperclassman with the exception of eighth grader Isabella Kaldy.
For a sport like tennis, most matches are competed individually, with the exceptions of competing in pairs for doubles. In spite of the relative isolated competitive nature of the game, the Scotties tennis team encourages unity.
“We try to balance both the team and the individual. We do a lot of team bonding outside of the tennis courts to get the team unity and then on court we’re always trying to keep an eye on our teammates and build them up when they need a little build up and that’s pretty much the balance there,” said Rabideau.
Friday, September 6, you can see the Scotties take on local team Saratoga Blue Streaks at 4:15 p.m. at Saratoga Springs High School.
Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — After an eventful year that included hosting the Empire State Winter Olympic Games Torch Relays, building a “Tiny Home” for veterans and winning the Baseball State Championships, the senior class commenced their high school journey. The Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center (SPAC) hosted the event on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
BALLSTON SPA — Coach Amanda Fifield heads into her 7th season coaching a sisterhood of varsity softball players.
In 2016 the Scotties softball team won their first ever section championships. That win solidified Fifield’s new approach to selecting her team each season. Uniquely her team tryouts are open to all softball athletes from grades nine through twelve, and the best players, regardless of age, will play on her varsity team. She makes sure her team knows that it’s not about age, but about talent and attitude.
Having a flexible attitude is important for Fifield as each year her athletes may not play the same position they did the prior year or a position they play on their travel team.
One player that comes to Fifield’s mind as an example of a positive attitude is her senior first baseman and co-captain, Megan McMahon.
“I tell anybody, I’m looking for people like Megan McMann,” said Fifield. “She’s the first person in a practice, last one to leave.”
Off the field, she holds her athletes to a high academic standard with a goal of having a 95 average grade point average for her team.
“I tell them we are student-athletes. Student comes first,” said Fifield.
In order to achieve her athletic goals for her team, she teaches her players accountability for not only themselves but for the team. At the beginning of the season Fifield asked her players to find a personal goal, and a team goal and to figure out how their personal goals can help the team achieve the team goal – which is to win another championship.
“The biggest focus for our team is to be able to communicate and be united like a family,” said Fifield. “If we can do those things one pitch at a time, we should be able to achieve our goal.”
Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.
BALLSTON SPA — Wednesday, Jan 30. The Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) Torch Relays ran through the Ballston Spa school district. Ballston Spa School district was invited by the ESWG to be a host stop on the ESWG commencement relay that begins in New York City and ends in Lake Placid, as their district’s location fell along their relay track this year.
ESWG is the largest annual amateur athlete sporting event in North America with participants as young as four years old. The games span several days featuring various sports including cross country skiing, luge, and figure skating. In preparation for the passing of the torch, Ballston Spa educators incorporated discussions about the winter games into the physical education curriculum.
“They just did a sixth grade Olympics last week Friday, so it kind of tied into that (the torch relays),” said Stuart Williams, Community relations coordinator. Despite the district’s two hour delayed opening the Light-emitting-diode (LED) torch passed through the hands of Ballston High school star runners Faith Demars and Ben Guerin as planned. Juniors Demars and Guerin took the torch through the district to the Milton Terrace Elementary School as police followed closely behind.
According to Guerin, “it’s the first time (participating in the torch relays) …we’re excited.”
Following the passing of the torch, the ESWG representatives took the time to talk to the National Junior Honor Society students about the sporting event, and how to sign up themselves. The games will take place at the Adirondack Park Jan. 31, through Feb. 3.
SARATOGA COUNTY — On February 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL suffered an unimaginable tragedy: 17 people were gunned down by a teenager with a gun. In the month since, students across America have become involved with supporting the students at Stoneman Douglas. On a local level, activism took many forms.
“We’re glad that you’re all choosing to walk-out today. We’ve gathered here to honor the lives of the 17 students and teachers that passed one month ago. But never again should we have to do this. This marks the beginning of an end. An end for gun violence in our schools. Because enough is enough. We should be able to go to school and not fear for our lives. We should be able to go to school and come back the next day. But we can’t take this for granted. We must put an end to the atrocities that are claiming the lives of our fellow students. We have the power to demand change. Now let’s use it to stop the violence in our schools once and for all,” the students at Saratoga Springs High School said, at the beginning of their walk-out.
Saratoga Springs High School, Ballston Spa High School, and South Glens Falls High School were three schools in the county who decided to rise up and partake in the movement on Wednesday, March 14. South Glens Falls students did not walk-out, however; they oversaw of how they would support the movement.
“I sat down with a few student groups and tried to get an understanding of what the students wanted to do. They thought it was in the best interest of everyone in the building that we split what is activism and what is memorial,” said South Glens Falls Principal, Mody.
During third period, faculty and students engaged in discussion circles to confront issues about school violence, empathy, and the “SEE something – SAY something” philosophy. They also had a 17-second moment of silence. In the library, students also had the option to write letters to local representatives.
“The students were all engaged and that’s important. I always say, ‘educate not indoctrinate.’ My job is not to tell them what to do with their voice, but how to use it,” Mody said.
In Ballston Spa, a group of seniors kick-started their walkout organization.
“We have a sort of media committee, it’s a small group of seniors and we all divided up the responsibilities and we are the ones in charge of getting the media involved,” Joe Vesic said, referring to himself, Izzy Rutkey, and Joe McDonald, all seniors.
“One of the people that we’re working with tweeted ‘why can’t Ballston Spa participate in the walk-out?’ We all got on board with that and thought ‘yeah, why can’t we participate?’ So, we emailed our principal and we got her full support on the event and then we started to get people’s support outside of the small group of seniors that were working on it and it really grew into a big thing,” Vesic explained.
Aside from the principal’s support, the students also had the backing of most teachers and students.
“We have the majority of the school’s support; however, there is a small section of the school that I think their main reason for not supporting the movement is because they truly don’t understand what we’re calling for and once we explain it to the people that approach us showing resistance, they really do tend to come on board with our message,” Vesic said.
Vesic and the committee have spent their time listening to all of the various speeches that kids at Stoneman Douglas have been giving, along with watching clips from the Town Hall they had a few weeks ago. Ballston Spa’s message for the walk-out is simple: “mainly we’re calling for more background checks and limits on weapons of war,” explained McDonald.
Like the others, Ballston Spa’s walk-out lasted 17 minutes, honoring each victim of the shooting.
“Our main goal is definitely unity. With the election coming up, and a lot of us turning 18 soon or already 18, we will be able to register to vote and be able to vote in this upcoming election. If we start this conversation about what we, as teenagers and young adults, want and how we want to be represented in the government, then that will lead to us taking steps in November when we are able to vote and to have our opinions and our voices be heard,” Rutkey said.
The trio, however, remain realistic that a walk-out will not be the end-all be-all of what they’re fighting for.
“We won’t be giving up on this effort. I think that our motivation to have stricter background checks and limits on weapons of war is not going to stop with us walking out of school. We won’t stop calling our representatives or making our voices heard,” Vesic stated.
“I think that overall, Ballston Spa High School does a fantastic job of making sure we feel safe. We do have our regularly practiced lock down drills and in the past few weeks we have had a police presence throughout the day. I think individually, as a school, Ballston Spa does a great job, especially in response to a lock down we had at the beginning of the school year when a student did bring a gun to school. They handled that situation so well and made sure nothing like that has happened since. But on a state level and a federal level, that cannot be said about all schools, and we want to make sure it can be said about all schools,” Rutkey concluded.
Saratoga Springs High School also participated in the walk-out; however, two students offered an alternative, the #Honor17 kindness project, created by freshman Meg Messitt and senior Madeline Messitt.
“The school had put together the walk-out and we were just a little concerned about it, because a walk-out by definition, is a political protest and we don’t believe in political activism during school hours, so we came up with this alternative that pledges kindness and makes the school a better place at the same time. We feel it will also achieve more by doing something other than just standing outside. It will make the school a better place at the same time. I think it’s better than standing outside for 17 minutes,” said Meg Messitt.
After a teacher posted something on Facebook that one of her students had come up with, #whatsyour17, the Messitt girls were inspired to create their own similar idea.
“This project is not just for kids who aren’t walking out, it’s for everyone. I’ve met up with people that are organizing the walk-out and even they love this idea, they’re spreading it around, trying to get more people to do it, too. People in the middle schools are participating, a teacher from Colonie is also trying to get it into his school, as well,” Messitt explained.
Meg is the president of the newly minted Republican Club at the high school, but she says she doesn’t even factor that into her opinions on the walk-out, which
she finds to be very politically motivated, at all.
“What we’re doing [#Honor17] is not political at all. When we advertise this, I’m not even mentioning the club,” she explained.
Messitt said she felt pressure from some teachers to join the walk-out.
“Teachers have been pressuring students to walk out. They’ve been saying things like, ‘I want to walk out but if students stay behind I can’t.’ So this is just pressuring students to walk out because if they don’t, they think their teacher is going to be disappointed in them because they know their teacher wants them to walk out,” she said.
As far as her own personal safety, Messitt doesn’t feel unsafe but, “it wouldn’t hurt to put more thought into a better security system.”
Messitt did not participate in the walk-out.
Braeden Arthur, a sophomore at Saratoga Springs High School, found out about the event through social media and immediately decided he wanted to participate.
“I definitely think that for different people this walk-out means different things. Some people see it as just standing by those who unfortunately died in Parkland, and then some people see it as how some of the students from Parkland want us to see it; as this is a moment to bring attention to our administrators, President, NRA, and that students of this generation in particular have had enough of the gun violence and in a setting where students shouldn’t necessarily have to be afraid, no less,” Arthur stated.
For Arthur, his reasons behind participating are simple: “for me, personally, the walk-out is about students talking to the adults who happen to be running the country now.”
Arthur is aware of the #Honor17 project, “I like the idea of creating a kinder environment and I definitely think that’s a good way to, again, lower the risk of anything ever happening by making people feel more welcome. If kids felt more welcome and less singled out, maybe we wouldn’t have a situation where the solution is to hurt the people around them,” Arthur said.
Arthur commends the district for increasing security on the campus to make it an even safer environment.
“Do I think I’m personally safe? I’d say that I do feel safe, then again, I’m sure the kids at Stoneman Douglas thought they were safe, too” he said.
Matthew Taylor, one of the 10 initial students who organized the walk-out, doesn’t believe this to be political in nature.
“We haven’t taken a stand, it’s not about gun control, it’s mainly about walking out in solidarity with the students from Parkland. It’s to represent that this time, it’s going to be different, it isn’t just going to fade away into a distant memory. I understand that a lot of students are saying that ‘kindness and promoting kindness is something that we can do’ and although kindness is important, you must change hearts and laws, because that’s the only way real change will occur. You should be kind to people all of the time,” Taylor said.
Students from Saratoga Springs High School are currently raising money to charter a bus for those who would like to participate in the Washington, D.C. walk-out on Saturday, March 24.
“The walk-out is really about empowerment and making sure students know all of the ways they can get involved and they can voice their opinion, regardless of what side of the aisle they’re on. That’s why it’s not really that political. It’s just an issue that needs to be addressed,” Taylor said.
Maple Avenue Middle School also participated in the walk-out. While most schools across the county supported the walkout movement or provided an alternative, Schuylerville Central School threatened students with disciplinary actions and would treat walking out as an unexcused absence.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – An innovative treatment facility in Brazil for alcoholic clergy, which was founded by Ballston Spa native Rev. William Tracy, will benefit from a Soup and Sandwich Night hosted by the Saratoga Knights of Columbus on Thursday, Oct. 5, at its 50 Pine Road location.
In 1981, the 88-year-old padre was just 52 when he laid the groundwork for The New Life Community in Curitiba, Brazil that has since saved the lives of legions of priests and others who—like himself—had become addicted to alcohol.
In the early days, Tracy was shy about discussing the journey that led him to establish the pioneering mission. That changed when the Ballston Spa High School Class of 1946 alum realized he could not expect people in his American hometown to care about his foreign mission unless he came clean about the reasons he decided to make it his life’s work.
The multi-tiered treatment center, overseen by Father Tracy in conjunction with Sister Irma Terezinha de Jesus Dias, DM, includes a chapel with a view of the city park, an office, a dining room and six spacious dormitories with five beds each.
Assisting the American priest and South American nun are additional psychologists, physicians, some former patients and volunteers from Alcoholics Anonymous. Thus far, the facility has helped several hundred members of the clergy (seminarians and nuns as well as priests) plus hundreds of lay individuals.
“The greatest proof in my life that God really loves me is that I am sober today and free from the living death of active alcoholism. I am grateful that what for 20 years had been my greatest shame has been transformed into the precious gift of helping other alcoholics on the road to recovery,” said Father Tracy, who took the first steps to sobriety in 1978.
Saratoga Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Tom Gurka, Sr. said Council 246 considers it an honor to continue its longstanding tradition of supporting The New Life Community.
“We are thankful to Father Tracy for his ministry and love of the Lord,” said Gurka. “Our long association with Father Tracy has been a blessing for our Council and we consider it an honor to give him our support at our October 5 fundraiser.”
Former Ballston Spa Middle School Principal and Past Grand Knight Stephen R. Toussaint said Tracy “has long been an inspiration and support to others, not only in his priestly ministry, but also in his founding and sustained direction of a recovery program for priests and other religious persons in their fight against substance addiction in Brazil.”
“Father Bill is a role model to us all,” Toussaint added. “His personal brand of kindness, sense of humor, positive outlook and most importantly his faith provide all with a sense of the importance of caring for the well-being of others. We are encouraged by his determination and his spirit of hope in the face of many obstacles of daily life. We consider it an honor to give him our support.”
Menu offerings at the 4:30 to 6 p.m. benefit include roast beef, turkey or corned beef sandwiches accompanied by Navy bean with smoked ham soup. The cost of meals, which will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, are $10 for adults and $6 for children six to 12. Those under age six dine for free.
For more information, call 518-584-8547.
BALLSTON SPA – Ankie Meuwissen, a science teacher from Ballston Spa High School, recently completed a special program that will help her to bring the stars to her students.
From June 15-19, Meuwissen took part in the Honeywell Educators in Space Academy (HESA) program in Huntsville, Ala. The program gives educators from across the country a chance to learn more about space and space-related technologies, so that they can ideally bring back the things they learned to share with their students. Meuwissen mentioned that there were also activities focused on incorporated engineering design, which she said would be “much needed from our graduates.”
The HESA program was created in 2004 by the Honeywell Company in conjunction with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center with the intention of helping math and science teachers become more effective STEM instructors. This year, Meuwissen was among over 200 other educators from 45 states and 33 countries. Over the years, 2,776 instructors have taken part in HESA, from 52 U.S. states and territories and 62 countries, with official estimates putting the numbers of students impacted by the program through their instructors at over 3 million.
At HESA, Meuwissen went through around 45 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction. Some of the activities that she took part in included a jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training, interactive flight dynamics programs, and more. Some of the activities that stood out to Meuwissen the most were mock water landing drills and a simulation of gravity on the Moon, which is about 1/6 the gravity found on Earth. Attendees were also able to hear from important pioneers in the realm of space travel, including space flight advocate Ed Buckbee, “Rocket Boys” author Homer Hickam, and astronaut Clayton Anderson.
Meuwissen said that she first heard about the program from “a friend of a friend,” and thought that it sounded both interesting and like something that would have meaningful benefits for her students.
“I learned sometime in the spring,” Meuwissen said about getting the opportunity to attend HESA. “I was really excited! What a wonderful opportunity!”
Meuwissen’s students were initially excited to hear about her involvement with the program, however, she said that the now-previous year’s students did not really see any benefit from it. Next year’s class will be the one to experience the significant changes in her curriculum.
“Currently I have plans to alter my bottle rocket project and incorporate better engineering practices into it,” Meuwissen said. “I also want to create a lesson around thermal heat shields into my physics class, and challenge students to keep an egg-stronaut safe as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.”
Meuwissen has been with the Ballston Spa school district for five years and currently teaches astronomy, physics, and earth science.
Dozens of Saratoga County residents spoke out at Ballston Spa’s Board of Education meeting Wednesday against a controversial online lesson plan that has been linked to the Ballston Spa school district.
The lesson plan, titled “Dying to be a Martyr,” allegedly takes what opponents feel is a sympathetic view towards radical suicide bombers.
“These biased global history lessons are not educational. Our local schools, public schools, are intentionally indoctrinating our youth,” said Renee Murtens of Ballston Spa. “Being sympathetic to any terrorist group, any religion...does not constitute education, nor does it belong in our high schools.”
Word of the plan reached Saratoga County when an article on conservative news site theBlaze.com revealed a Ballston Spa history teacher to be its author. However, school officials say the plan has never been taught.
“It’s about fourteen years old,” Ballston Spa Superintendent Joe Dragone said. “It has never been taught. And we stand by that.”
The plan was created over ten years ago for PBS’s LearningMedia program, which provides over 100,000 free educational resources for teachers and students, and it is still available on the website. It had been relatively unknown until it was dredged up in April.
The lesson plan uses multimedia pieces to “examine the roots of the conflict in the Middle East,” including interviews with individuals linked to suicide bombings.
Many of the meeting’s speakers commented on the apparent lack balance in the history curriculum. Kate Thimineur of Ballston Spa first grew concerned when she flipped through her daughter’s ninth-grade history textbook two years ago.
“I looked into her history book and I noticed that there were 15 pages on Islam and five pages on Christianity and Judaism,” she said. “I asked if that was going to be corrected within the classroom. Long story short, it wasn’t.”
Thimineur requested to observe a class’s lesson on the creation of the state of Israel, but she said she was referred to a different class.
“As I understand it, Mrs. Thimineur has been in the classroom a number of times,” Board of Education President Kevin Schaefer said. “We try not to let parents into the classroom this late in the year when the kids are prepping for regents and end of the year finals.”
Thimineur has expressed her concerns to the board multiple times, she said. The board responded in a letter, writing that though she could discuss other issues, further public comment on the topic would be limited to avoid “rehashing the same issue.”
Other speakers shifted focus to Christianity. Schenectady resident Earl Wallace is a pastor at Liberty Christian Fellowship Church and a former teacher at Saratoga Springs high school. Though the lesson is not taught, Wallace suggested a solution for the speakers’ complaints.
“I teach a course called the Biblical Basis of the Bill of Rights,” Wallace said. “I have programs designed to teach children that which we have suppressed in our society. Our society has become more brutal, more hateful.”
The board plans to respond formally to the torrent of comments. Though they often respond only to specific questions, the board feels reciprocal action is appropriate to resolve some of the confusion around this particular issue.
“The reality is it’s never been taught,” Dragone said. “There’s nothing of that nature going on.”
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