Lori Mahan

Lori Mahan

Thursday, 04 January 2018 17:46

Katy Ralston: Local Speedskating Athlete

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Katy Ralston, a Saratoga Springs native, has been training in speedskating since she was eight years old and has been training full time since she was 16. Now, at 25-years-old, Ralston has decided to retire. Ralston just participated in her last Olympic Trials, which took place Dec. 15 – 17. The top three women and the top five men made the Olympic team, Ralston finished eighth overall.

“It was pretty much where I was expecting to finish. It would have been great if I had been able to do better or even make the team, but realistically I knew that was where I was sitting. In some races I did better than I expected. It was an okay way to finish out my career,” Ralston stated.

Before Ralston ever started speedskating, she was a soccer player. She will be going to school full time at Salt Lake Community College, where she is considering getting a degree in physical therapy, and will be playing soccer.

“Soccer was my first love for sports. Now that I’m done skating, I’d like to train for soccer and see where that can take me,” she explained.

In 2010, after graduation from high school, Ralston moved to Utah to train full time.

“Doing this for eight years is mentally and physically exhausting. I’m 25 so I’m kind of at the back end of my career, I don’t think I can make it another four years. Its time, I don’t have anything I regret much with skating. It was time to hang up the skates and move on,” Ralston said.

Ralston got her skating start at the Saratoga Winter Club after skating at her families’ frozen farm house pond with her dad.

“My dad had really old speed skates and he was doing cross-overs. I thought it was really cool and he tried to teach me,” she reminisced.

After that, her parents decided she needed to take skating lessons.

“It was kind of a fun activity that young kids do and as I got older, it was more fun and I started getting faster. Back then, the club had a lot of Olympians, World Cup team members, and some National Team members there. That put me in a cool position to train on the same ice as them. They helped me out a lot in wanting to pursue skating further as I got older,” she said. “My family has been really supportive. They’ve been great in helping me afford the equipment and all of the other expenses,” Ralston mused.

Ralston’s main coach in Saratoga was Paul Marchese.

“He’s still with the club but  when I was 16 and really decided I wanted to get really good at this and try to go to the Olympics, Marchese really helped me out with getting to the next level. Most recently, my coach is Lin Lin Phun in Utah. She was a gold medalist from China and her medal is from the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. For the past two years I’ve been skating with her,” Ralston explained.

With her full time athletic lifestyle, Ralston has traveled many places and created a family like bond with her teammates, and that is what she’ll “miss the most.”

“The coolest place I’ve traveled to is Seoul, Korea. The people there that come to watch the World Cup there are crazy, they’re so passionate about short track in Korea. The rink fills up with people and it’s a really cool environment to be in as an athlete,” Ralston remembered.

Ralston has seen many accomplishments in the nearly eight years she has invested full time into speed skating.

From 2010-2011, she was a member of the US Junior World Team; from 2010-2012 and 20142018, Ralston was on the US Short Track National Team; in 2011 she placed eighteenth overall in the Junior World Championships; and in 2014 and 2018, she placed eighth overall at the Olympic Trials.

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Meg Messitt, an ambitious freshman at Saratoga Springs High School, decided last summer that her political point of view needed to be represented in her high school. Along with two friends her age, Jason Schwartz and Paul Sheehan, Messitt and the boys spent their summer writing their new proposed clubs constitution. Messitt explained that she has always been interested in politics, starting with watching Fox News at a young age and continuing to do so well into her teen years.

“I was really excited to start this club, it got me even more engaged with politics. We wanted to express conservative values more, we thought there wasn’t a big voice of conservative ideas in Saratoga schools. We noticed that lessons tended to be from the democratic view point. So, we started this club, so the conservative values could be heard,” Messitt explained.

The clubs’ first meeting took place in November, appointing Messitt as president, Schwartz as treasurer, and Sheehan as vice president. So far, the club has attracted 30 members.

“We were surprised to see how many kids came and we’re expecting the numbers to grow, so we’re really excited to see how the club turns out,” Messitt said.

Along with the club serving as a place for young republicans to gather, it was also created to serve as a community service based club. The club participated in Adopt-A-Soldier in December, they sent out a package to a soldier on the Red Sea.

“The members of our club donated stuff and then we sent out the care package to the soldier,” she explained.

Items included nonperishable foods, Christmas decorations, magazines, and items the soldiers wouldn’t normally have on a ship. The club also intends to lay wreaths at the Saratoga National Cemetery, are planning a food drive, and are looking to meet up with local law enforcement.

“We are going to have a meet and greet with law enforcement to honor them, get to know them better, and see what they do,” Messitt stated.

Messitt has been in contact with a local police officer already. The club also has Senator James Tedisco lined up to speak to them on Thursday, Jan. 18.


“I feel that the current political climate is full of anger and hate. There is a lot of intolerance for people with different political beliefs. Political diversity is often unwelcomed, and we should respect people with different political beliefs,” she said.

On what it means to be a Republican, Messitt said, “we believe that there are equal rights for everyone.”

“People look at each other and if they hold a different political belief then they don’t like that person and judge them because of their differences. So maybe instead of thinking that way, we should listen to them and hear their side and even though you don’t agree with them, you can still be friends with them. I feel there should be more acceptance for political diversity,” she explained passionately.

Matthew Taylor, a senior and former intern on the newlyappointed Mayor Meg Kelly’s campaign, is ready to change the political climate at Saratoga Springs High School.

“One morning the Republican Club announced they were having a meeting and, so I decided to create a Young Democrats Club, because there should be a club for democrats as well,” Taylor explained.

The Young Democrats will hold their first meeting in January and have already garnered a lot of interest within the school. Sara Zlotnick has been appointed the clubs vice president.

“Action is needed, so that’s what we’re looking to do, raise money for not for profits in our area and make a difference in our community. This is the first charter of the Young Democrats in Saratoga County,” Taylor said.

Taylor has been very politically engaged throughout his life and began dipping his toes into the career end of things this past summer by interning on the Meg Kelly mayoral campaign.

“We obviously won, so that was great. I attended the meetings we had, made a lot of phone calls, a lot of knocking on doors, which is how you win elections. Also, a lot of communicating and keeping the spirits high,” he said.

Interning helped him to learn the amount of work that goes into a campaign, how even simple things like knocking on doors is critical to success.

Taylor considers Kelly’s campaign to be a success because “we were passionate about the issues and we ran on that and worked hard.”

Taylor intends to go to college for political science, he will be attending George Washington University in the fall of 2018. The 2016 election season, and the subsequent outcome, was what sparked Taylor’s initiative to become more involved and aware of the political climate around him.

In reference to the current political world we live in, Taylor finds it “saddening. It’s so contentious and there is so much divide and such a lack of communication. That’s why I want my club to be a very inclusive environment. We may be the Young Democrats Club, but you don’t have to be a staunch democrat to be part of the club.

Our main goal is to make a difference in our community,” he said passionately.

Taylor intends to open any public figure discussions that happen within his group the Republican Club as well.

“I think that we’ve come so far from listening to one another that we instantly hear republican, or democrat, or conservative, or liberal and we instantly are turned off. I’ve caught myself doing that as well and I think that needs to end, because everyone has different views,” Taylor stated.

When asked what being a Democrat meant to him, he simply stated, “to be a Democrat, I say you believe in social equality, you believe in helping those less fortunate than you.”

Both clubs have expressed an interest in working together to show others that it is not always about your political affiliation but how you treat people for being people.

Thursday, 21 December 2017 18:47

Saratoga-Wilton Elks Hoop Shoot

[Photo provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Saturday, Dec. 2 the SaratogaWilton Elks Lodge No. 161 held its’ annual basketball Hoop Shoot free throw shooting competition. Throughout the hours of 9 a.m.  and noon, six youths came out to shoot free throws.

On Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Elks Lodge, an awards ceremony was held for all the winners from the Hoop Shoot competition.

Thursday, 21 December 2017 18:43

No Excuses Clinic for Local Veterans

[Photo provided]

SARATOGA COUNTY — “Every day can be Veteran’s Day with veterans, community members, and companies working together.”

That is the slogan for The Learning League and Project Transition’s No Excuses Clinic, which is a clinic designed to help a broad spectrum of people, from the morbidly obese to autistic people, to veterans trying to get back on their feet. At the No Excuses Clinic, taking place starting in January 2018 at the Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, veterans will participate in sporting events tailored to their skills.

“It will not take an act of Congress to help returning veterans overcome PTSD and spinal cord injuries. It will take an act of kindness from local employers and the sports therapies of Second Chance Sports,” said Billy Yaiser, founder of The Learning League and Second Chance Sports.

“Given the tools and opportunity, returning vets and active military families can do more for themselves than most doctors or insurance plans can. We need companies and community members to simply sponsor a family for as little as $35 per week,” said the official statement.

For companies looking to sponsor, The Learning League will tailor a plan that works best for you.

“Let’s start this New Year by working together to help veterans and active duty families reclaim their lives. In addition, you can jumpstart your own health and wellness and thank our veterans and active military and their families every day for their service by your sponsorship,” the official press release stated.

For more information, visit www.secondchancesports.org or call 518-491-0556.

To sponsor, make the check payable to:

The Learning League, P.O. Box 3031 Ballston Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

Thursday, 21 December 2017 18:36

Local Athletes All Star Moments

[Photos provided]

Saratoga Blue Streaks vs. Adirondack Rivermen Hockey
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Blue Streaks played the Adirondack Rivermen in the Blue Streaks’ first sectional game at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the Weibel Ice Rink. Saratoga took the win, 4-1. All goals were made at full strength. In the first period, Saratoga’s Nick Larrabee scored the first goal with assists from Ryan Jones and Devon Wormley. In the second period, Ryan Jones scored with an assist from Matt Shamberger and Will Detora scored with assists from Charlie Leary and Ryan Jones. For the Rivermen, Andrew Rizzo scored with the help of Jordan Willis and Cullen Krug. In the third period, Matt Shamberger scored the final goal with an assist from Gary Blanchard. Saratoga’s goalie Brad Hipsley had 12 saves and Adirondack’s goalie Ben DiFiore had 18 saves.


Saratoga Central Catholic Bowling
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Thursday, Dec. 14 Saratoga Central Catholic played a match against Waterford, winning each game with an overall score of 3261-2092. For the Saints, Micaela Barbolt had the highest average, 194, and Tim Barrett with an average of 189. For Waterford, Mackenzie Fletcher had an average of 132 and Elias Martin had an average of 125. On Monday, Dec. 18 Saratoga Central Catholic played a match against Whitehall. The Saints won all matches and overall defeated Whitehall, 2855-2040. Zac Niles
had the highest average for the Saints with 169 and Micaela Barbolt followed closely behind with an average of 164. For Whitehall, Abby Melvin led the team with an average of 152 and Zac Hollister with 131.


Saratoga Central Catholic Boys Varsity Basketball
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Overall, the Saints are 4-1 and 2-0 in the league. On Tuesday, Dec. 12 the Saints played Hoosic Valley and won, 53-45. On Friday, Dec. 15 the Saints defeated Stillwater, 71-55. On Tuesday, Dec. 19 the Saints beat Waterford 59-44 in a Wassern League matchup. Leading the way for the Saints, Tyler Haraden had 19 points, Terel Tillman and Aiden Dagostino each had 10 points.


Saratoga Springs Gymnastics Team
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Gymnastics, the 16-time defending Section II champions, opened their dual meet season with a convincing win over Shaker on Monday night, 166.95-150.35. Saratoga secured four out of the top five all-around scores led by Ava Dallas (1st all-around; 35.10), followed by Sophia Damiano (2nd all-around; 34.05), Kate Dellaratta (3rd all-around; 32.00) and Megan Wishart (5th all-around; 31.00). Shaker’s top all-around finisher was Brianna Morris (4th allaround; 31.95). Saratoga gymnasts captured the top spot in each of the four individual events, with Ava Dallas winning the vault (9.00), the floor exercise (8.90) and the bars (8.70), and with Emily Ward winning the beam (8.90).


Saratoga Regional YMCA Youth Basketball League
ROTARY JUNIOR DIVISION: Saratoga Financial Services 31 — Mexican Connection Restaurant 25 In a nip and tuck game, Saratoga Financial outlasted Mexican Connection by a score of 31 to 25. Alex Cutler dropped in 12 points and teammate Ryan Boyle added another 8 points in the victory. Nick Scalo led his team in scoring with 11 points along with 7 points from
Yankiel Bracero in the loss.

Saratoga PBA 30 — PJ BARB-QSA 19
In a defensive battle, PBA got 9 points apiece from Steve Bebee and Emylyn Tineo and Jack Foster added another 8 points and defeated PJ’s BBQ 30 to 19. PJ’s was led by Caleb Beverly with 7 points and 5 points apiece by Jacob Armer and Jordon Cousar. SENIOR DIVISION: Saratoga Firefighters 54 — Berkshire Hathaway Blake, Realtors 36 In a very physical game, the Firefighters got off to an 18-point first half lead over BHHS, Blake Realtors and went on to a 54 to 36 victory. Noah Rourke exploded for a team high 21 points and Enyer Tineo scored 13 points while Curtis Bennifield added 12 points for the Firefighters. Ian Fisk had a game high 27 points with Jake Graham and Tim Leary each contributing 5 points in the defeat.

Village Photo 55 — Cudney’s Launderers 34
The game was even through the first half but in the second half, Village Photo used a smothering pressure defense to get a win over Cudney’s 55 to 34. The victors got 19 points from Jose Garcia along with 12 points apiece from Donald Steves and Patrick Deschaine. Cudney’s got 13 points from Hunter Regels and Lydia Green added 7 points, Tom Leary had 6 points in the loss.

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Saturday, Dec. 16 students from the Saratoga Springs athletic department rang the bells for The Salvation Army at six stands in Saratoga Springs including Fingerpaint, Adirondack Trust, and Uncommon Ground on Broadway, Market 32 in Wilton, and the Wilton Mall. Lieutenant Bree Barker from The Salvation Army contacted all Saratoga County High Schools to seek help for the bell ringing.

“Collections are almost down $10,000 this year, mostly due to illness of our faithful, yearly volunteers and also from donor fatigue from the hurricane season. Saratoga Springs High School Athletics have stepped up to the plate to help us make it to the goal line,” Barker said.

Athletic Director Peter Sheehan and varsity girls’ lacrosse coach Elaine Anton-Lotruglio “quickly and enthusiastically responded and organized for their students to cover 60 hours of bell ringing,” Barker explained.

The students who signed up first were lacrosse players and the signup sheet quickly snowballed into the entirety of the athletic department; students from all the teams signed up and every spot on the sheet was filled, resulting in roughly 80 students volunteering their time. Some Maple Avenue Middle School students signed up as well, and were paired with high schoolers when they rang the bell.

“Even parents jumped in if they had a younger child in seventh or eighth grade,” AntonLotruglio said.

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., three to four students monitored the bell in each location per two-hour shift.

“It was cold! They’re athletes though, so some of them even play in that weather sometimes. The ice hockey players were used to it,” Anton-Lotruglio laughed.

“We rely on this money to carry us through the year in order to help those who need us. All of the money raised stays in our area, so when you make a donation this Christmas, you are really making change happen for your neighbors,” said Lieutenant Trish Smouse, Corps Officer.

“It was fun! Who doesn’t like to ring that bell? It gives you a good holiday feeling, that’s for sure,” said Anton-Lotruglio.

If you would like to donate to The Salvation Army or are interested in being a bell ringer, visit www. salvationarmyempirestate.org.

Thursday, 21 December 2017 18:19

The Gratitude Project

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hannah Weeden, an English teacher at Maple Avenue Middle School, created The Gratitude Project 15 years ago and has made it her life’s work for the last two years. This project consists of students delivering handwritten letters to people who have made a powerful impact on their lives, showing gratitude to them for that. Weeden believes that if gratitude is instilled in a child from a young age, you raise a happier child.

“Thinking and then recognizing the little things as well as the big things that enrich our lives enables us to not just feel happy, but be happy,” Weeden explained.

To Weeden, gratitude isn’t simply words, it’s an attitude.

“Students need to grow this attitude to find fulfillment within themselves, this has to be taught and modelled,” she said.

The students hand-write their letters because Weeden feels that hand-writing is as personal as it can get in this day and age with all of the technology that is available. She does not read the letters, she feels that would take away “from the sincerity of the students’ heart.”

“Similar to developing a muscle at the gym, developing gratitude requires regular and periodic practice in order to grow and develop,” Weeden explained.

Weeden has been a keynote speaker for the New York State Middle School Association (NYSMSA) at their last two annual conferences.

“I saw the tear-stained faces of my colleagues and I was blown away at how transformative it was for them to just receive a letter,” she explained, in reference to the students handing out their letters to the teachers who have made an impact on them.

“I feel like it’s essential for students to truly find ways to be positive and upbeat and I don’t think that often times they know how to do that. So that whole notion that gratitude isn’t necessarily about saying thank you to someone but it’s experiencing gratefulness of what you have, big or small. What I’ve come to recognize is students need to grow this attitude and I really am acting as a facilitator of that growth. They need to find fulfilment within themselves, but it really has to be taught and modeled, it doesn’t just happen,” she said.

“What has been incredibly empowering for me, is to see through their physical interactions between student and adult, student and student, to see that interaction, they’re growing. It’s a messy process, but they are really growing their soft skills which are being lost in a day and age when everyone is connected to a cell phone. So, it’s not only developing them in terms of giving them a more positive outlook on life but it’s enabling them to develop soft skills that are otherwise being lost,” she said.

In the last two years, teachers from South Glens Falls and South Colonie have expressed an interest in using The Gratitude Project in their classrooms.

“I’ve continued to speak to as many people, that are willing to listen, in terms of the project, as I can” Weeden said. “Sharing this has been a very intense experience for me. Yes, I put myself out there every day with my 145 students but I’m not one to put myself out there otherwise,” she explained.

With sharing her message of gratitude, Weeden’s goal is to see positive change.

“This is certainly a project that can be done at all levels,” she said enthusiastically.

For more information on The Gratitude Project, visit www. hweedenpowerofwords.com.

Thursday, 14 December 2017 19:12

Spa Catholic Girls Basketball Rebuild

[All photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]

SARATOGA SPRINGS - “The Wasaren League has a reputation for girls basketball, it’s a tough league,” said Coach Damian Fantauzzi.

With only ten players this season, Saratoga Central Catholic and their girls basketball program is in the middle of a rebuild after the previous coach was fired mid-season last year. After that, Damian Fantauzzi, cross-country coach, was asked to step in.

“It’s definitely a challenge. When I took it over last year, there was a whole bunch of seniors on the team and now, this season we only have two seniors, including one who has never played before,” Fantauzzi said.

Ani Crocker, a senior, is the only returning starter.

“We’re a very young and green team,” Fantauzzi explained.

The team this year consists of two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores, one freshmen, and one eighth grader. Ani Crocker and Kennedy Murphy, a junior, are the captains.

“They’re just green, there’s a lot they have to learn, one game at a time and one practice at a time, and hopefully we develop a basketball IQ. Not enough of them have played a lot of basketball,” he explained.

Fantauzzi is assisted by Ty Stacey, who played on Fantauzzi’s team at Saratoga Springs High School in the early 1980’s.

“He’s a welcome addition because he knows the game and he’s helping out with the kids. We’re on the same page with teaching the girls,” Fantauzzi said of Stacey.

“The girls are very good and attentive, they’re listening and working hard. Maybe by mid-season or so, maybe we’ll be competitive enough that we can pull off an upset,” Fantauzzi explained.

He said that each practice is like coming into the classroom and learning about the game. Crocker is a triple-threat athlete, with soccer, volleyball, and basketball all on her roster. She is a key-player in the basketball rebuild.

“Ani is just so athletic, she does things that amaze us sometimes because she doesn’t really focus on one sport. She’s just one of those talented kids,” Fantauzzi explained.

Murphy, only a junior, also joined the team last year midseason after transferring from Saratoga Springs High School.

“She has a pretty good basketball IQ because she comes from a basketball family. I’ve coached men in her family before, back when I was at Saratoga Springs High School. She’s got basketball in her blood,” Fantauzzi said.

“Every game is a new challenge for us. We have our moments where we look like ‘wow!’ and then it kind of falls apart, but that’s because we’re learning,” he said.

Coach Fantauzzi is patient though, he enjoys helping the team learn more and be better with each game. “We’re going against tradition and we’re hoping we can build a new one. That takes time and it doesn’t happen overnight. I love teaching the game,” he said. 

The girls basketball team plays Tuesday, Wednesday, and Fridays.

Thursday, 14 December 2017 19:06

Saratoga Springs Ice Hockey

[All photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Coach David Torres has been coaching the Saratoga Springs ice hockey team for seven years now. With the league games starting this week, Torres and his guys are ready to take their solid defense to the ice.

“We’ll be very competitive in the league. We have excellent goalies and excellent defense, I think those will be our strong points this season,” Torres said.

“We’re still learning to play together. We’re still young but we have some proven leaders on the team,” he explained.

The team has 23 players total this season; three goalies, eight defensemen, and 12 forwards.

“We had a record number of kids try out for the team; it was very competitive. It’s a lot of talent coming up. I like our team, I think we’ll be very competitive in the league and hopefully we could return to sectional finals if we do all the right things during the season and if we stay healthy, we should be in the mix,” Torres said.

Ryan Jones, a senior and one of the captains, has played hockey since he was four years old and is playing on varsity for his third season and plays hockey year-round.

“Ryan’s a great leader in the locker room. He leads by example and leads by being a good influence on the younger guys on the squad,” Torres said of Jones.

Matt Shamburger, a senior and third-year varsity player, is also one of the teams’ captains.

“Being a captain is a big role on the team and I’m taking it very seriously. I’m trying to lead our team and I want to create a team where the youngest and oldest get along, no one gets excluded. I think it’s really important that everyone feels like we’re all one unit. It helps the team perform at a higher level and creates a more fun environment for everyone,” Shamburger said.

Xavier Clarke, a sophomore who has played on varsity for two years, is described by Torres as, “a great player, one of the best defensemen in the league.”

“It’s pretty fun being a captain,” Clarke said, “I’ve got a whole different role on the team now rather than just being a regular player.”

All of the captains agree, they have a young offensive line and that is looking like their biggest challenge for this season, but that’s why they have upped their intensity this year in practice.

“I love the practices. The kids come to learn every day. They’re so enthusiastic about learning, they hate to miss practice. There’s just something about our practices that’s inviting. I’m not sure what that is exactly but maybe it’s the comradery combined with the fun drills we have. They want to learn, they work hard, and at the same time they have fun,” Torres said.

“During our practices we’ve been working really hard, conditioning more than ever before. We have a young team this year so everyone is out there working as hard as they can to prove themselves and that helps the older guys too,” Shamburger explained.

Jones had nothing but praise for freshman Will Detora, who started on varsity this season.

“We had watched him at his youth hockey games, we knew he’d be good but we didn’t expect him to make this much of an impact. He’s playing on the second line for us and he has been really impressive so far,” Jones praised.

Shamburger has been impressed so far with goalie Brad Hipsley, a senior.

“Brad’s a baseball guy but he came back for one last season with us. He’s been working really hard and we’ve all been extremely surprised at how well he’s been doing. We think he’ll be a starter for us this season and we’re really happy to have him back. He’s definitely a big factor for our team,” Shamburger said.

“Playing the game you love,” Jones simplified, “nothing beats it.”

Thursday, 14 December 2017 19:01

Caribbean Christmas

[Photo provided]

BALLSTON SPA — Milton Terrace Elementary School students are in the giving spirit this holiday season. Each year the students participate in at least one community service project, usually focusing on providing community assistance to those in the local community. This year, the students decided to go a little beyond the community at large. In conjunction with The Giving Circle, Milton Terrance Elementary School students will be working on Operation: A Caribbean Christmas. This project asked students in grades K-5 to make homemade Christmas cards for kids in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas who were affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The work is done through the library instruction class taught by Sheila McIntyre, point-person at the school for Operation: A Caribbean Christmas.

“As a Building Leadership Team (BLT), we have always looked for opportunities to help that reach far beyond Ballston Spa. A friend of mine who works with The Giving Circle approached me a while ago and asked if our school would be interested in helping them out with their Operation: A Caribbean Christmas project. I brought the idea to our BLT, and it was unanimously agreed upon that the students would love this,” said McIntyre.

The Giving Circle, an all-volunteer 501(C)(3) non-profit, contacted McIntyre to work on the project. This organization was founded in 2005 in response to the destruction left behind by Hurricane’s Rita and Katrina. Since their beginning, they have responded to nine natural disasters throughout the U.S., including local and international projects. This project is the perfect opportunity for the students to learn about children their own age who live differently than them; learn about different cultures; to show empathy for others struggles; and to feel like they can lend a helping hand. Before beginning with their cards, the students researched the islands and learned about their holiday celebrations, what languages they speak, what school is like, and what their homes and communities look like.

“It is always rewarding to see young children get excited about learning about different communities and cultures and helping others. The best part occurred during our discussions about what would be important for the students to know about Puerto Rico and St. Thomas before we could make the cards. The first question one fourth grader came up with was ‘what words of comfort could we send them?’” said McIntyre.

This question resulted in a discussion between the students which helped them to come up with the phrases they would put on their cards. Some phrases include, “we are all in this together,” and “I hope you can rebuild soon.” The Giving Circle will use the cards to accompany gifts and gift cards that will go to families in need in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

“We have local partners on each island, we send the cards directly to them and they do the distribution,” Donna Olson, who works at The Giving Circle, clarified.

“Interestingly, there were several students from grades K-5 who had a personal connection to Puerto Rico, whether they have relatives that live there, or their parents were born there. This provided a connection for the students themselves and gave them an opportunity to share their relative experiences with their fellow students,” McIntyre explained.

Lake Avenue Elementary School also created greeting cards and had a hurricane relief committee contribute $400.

The Giving Circle is still collecting donations, visit www. thegivingcircle.org/wordpress/occ to see how you can help.

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Blotter

  • COURT  Michael C. Norton, 59, of Hadley, was sentenced Jan. 12 to 20 years-to-life after pleading to murder in the second-degree, in connection with the death of his wife at the couple’s home in Hadley in May 2017.  Alycia M. Andreadakis, 43, of Ballston Spa, was sentenced Jan. 12 to five years of probation, after pleading to felony burglary.  Erica M. Jukna, 35, of Mechanicville, pleaded Jan. 11 to felony DWI in Malta. Sentencing scheduled March 7.  Victor C. Mattson, 39, of Rotterdam, was sentenced Jan. 11 to 8 years state prison, after pleading to second degree robbery, a felony,…

Property Transactions

  • TOWN OF BALLSTON  1341 West High St., $335,000. James and Mary Schmitz sold property to Matthew and Devin Whalen.  5 Thomas Ave., $105,000. Equinox Properties LLC sold property to McConchie Properties LLC.  8 Roseland Blvd., $206,000. Herbert Gott (by Admin) sold property to Andrew and Amy Ferrone.  8 Willem Way, $135,000. Frank Volpe (by Atty) and Denise Volpe (Ind. And as Atty) sold property to Christopher Naughton and Donna Arini.  38 Forest Rd., $215,000. Aven Real Estate Enterprises LLC sold property to Craig Kincaid. Lot 14 MacKenna Ct., $427,116. John Paul Builders LLC sold property to Richard and Mary Leonard.…
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