BALLSTON SPA —
The National PTA Reflections Program is designed to enhance arts education for students in preschool through grade 12, encouraging them to create works of art in the areas of dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and the visual arts. The theme for 20172018 was Within Reach and student submissions are judged at the school, region, state, and national levels as they advance. Ballston Spa students recognized for their submissions at the regional level in this year’s program include James McIntyre, Nate Hill and Connor Acton from the Gordon Creek Elementary School; Kentaro (Ken) Tan from the Ballston Spa Middle School; and Shoichiro (Shawn) Tan from the Ballston Spa High School. The students were recognized for their achievements at the Ballston Spa PTA Council’s annual Founders’ Day Celebration hosted recently at the Ballston Spa Middle School. Student artwork and projects will be judged at the state PTA level and returned at the Legislative Education Conference in March. Congratulations to all the participants. Please contact the appropriate local school PTA unit for additional information on the Reflections Program or visit www.NYSPTA.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Wednesday, Feb. 14, children at the Saratoga Independent School invited their grandparents and “grandfriends” to visit with them and see their classrooms, school work and projects, a homemade snack, and other fun activities throughout the school. They were also given a tour of the new Middle School, scheduled to open in Sept. 2018.
“Children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they know that people in their family and community are interested in them and their school. Our second annual Grandparents and Grandfriends Day gives our students an opportunity to share a special part of their lives with their loved ones,” said Pamela Howard, Director of Development.
“Grandparents and good family friends, or ‘Grandfriends,’ are very important people in our children’s lives and in the life of Saratoga Independent School. Valentine’s Day, we celebrated the many gifts: laughter; understanding; listening; family stories and memories to last a lifetime; and, most of all, unconditional love that grandparents bring to our lives,” said Lisa Brown, Head of School.
FRANKLIN AND ESSEX COUNTIES — Chris Mazdzer, resident of Saranac Lake, New York, took the Olympic silver medal for men’s singles in luge racing on
Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Pyeongchang Winter Games after finishing 18th overall in the World Cup standings. He is the first athlete in the United States to win this specific medal. For more information on Mazdzer, look out for our Saratoga Healthy Magazine, out on May 4, 2018.
SARATOGA SPRINGS —
On Wednesdays between November and March, you can watch the Over 50 Basketball League enjoy themselves on the court in a healthy competition between eight teams. Gentlemen aged 50 and over gather once a week to play basketball and socialize. Bill Carey, who also plays in the league, is the commissioner who works every year to coordinate the season.
“Bill does a great job coordinating all the schedules and working with the Y and getting the refs there. He does a great job with that,” said Rory Wilson, a player in the league and owner of D’Andrea’s Pizza.
“There are sign-ups every year, usually in September and there is a fee for non-members and members, but it is open to anybody that wants to play,” Wilson explained.
Each team has five to six players, totaling about 45 athletes between the eight teams, and upwards of 55 people involved, including the referees.
“The coaches are players, too. So, it’s a good thing that they can play and coach at the same time. Player-coaches we like to call them,” Wilson said.
The league has several sponsors, including D’Andrea’s Pizza, which also sponsors the YMCA Youth Basketball League.
“I’m actually on Jones and Steve’s team. I sponsor a team but I’m not on it. That’s one of the funny parts of the league,” Wilson laughed.
Barely making the age cut for the league at 50 years old, Wilson has been involved in YMCA basketball for many years.
“I coached my kids many years ago in Y basketball, so I’ve always been involved with that. I’ve stayed in touch with people through the years and I knew a couple of guys that played, and they asked me to play. You meet new friends and keep old friendships growing. It’s a good way to keep the bonds going,” he said.
“I just like being a player. It’s too much on me to try to direct the team and know who’s going to sub in and sub out; just ‘tell me what to do, I’ll go do it.,’” he explained.
Wilson plays forward on the court and he played basketball for LaSalle in high school.
“The league keeps growing. Some years you have your good years, some years you have an offyear but we try to keep getting the message out that it’s there, it’s a good competitive league. It’s a lot of fun, just guys getting together playing some hoops, making friendships, keeping friendships going. It’s a great group of guys. It’s more than just basketball. It’s like a family and that’s what I think gets missed sometimes with the way things are. Once the playing is done, the game is over, you’re all friends and it’s just a great feeling. It’s good to get out of the house and stay athletic,” he said.
Championship games begin in March, two sets of games take place every Wednesday; the first set begins at 7:15 p.m. and the second set begins at 8:25 p.m.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ava Dallas, a freshman at Saratoga Springs High School, is already breaking records for the district. Last Saturday, Dallas broke the Section II vault record; it was previously 9.325 in time and she had a 9.4.
“It was really exciting, and it was nice to see that my hard work paid off. It was also a great experience to see my coaches and teammates and how they congratulated me, it really made me feel good,” Dallas explained.
Dallas is also a cheerleader during football season, having started that this year.
“Cheer was really fun, it was very different for me because it was something I hadn’t done before and I was a flyer so I went up in the stunts. It was fun to learn something new and if I don’t make it into college for gymnastics I have something to fall back on. I plan to do it again next football season,” Dallas said.
Other than sports, Dallas is also in the Best Buddies program at school.
“The Best Buddies program is basically you are paired with somebody with learning disabilities and you get to go to events with them and really spend time and become friends with them. I went to the clubs’ fair during the walk-through at the high school and I was really interested in it, so I decided to join. My sister also did it,” she said.
Dallas started doing gymnastics at only 10-years-old at the YMCA, doing the beginning levels. She then transitioned into a club team called Stepping Star in Ballston Spa.
“After two years at Stepping Star, I decided it was very time consuming and since I was going into high school, I wanted something less time consuming, so I decided that I would start varsity gymnastics at school,” Dallas explained.
She has dreams of doing gymnastics in college and is attending a camp this summer at Penn State where she intends to scope out the gymnastics program there.
“When I was younger I really wanted to go to the Olympics but as you get older, gymnastics is such a very hard sport on the body; it’s not really likely at my age now to be able train elite and then go to the Olympics, but I still want to go to college for it,” she said.
Dallas loves her gymnastics team and immediately felt at ease once the season started.
“It was very easy to make the transition from club to team. The girls and coaches are really friendly.”
Her favorite gymnast is Laurie Hernandez.
“I love how expressive she is in her floor routine; she really makes it look fun,” Dallas explained.
Dallas’ favorite part of gymnastics is the floor routine. Dallas is also an Honors student.
“Her mother and I are quiteproud of her accomplishments. She is able to juggle everything and still maintain a 98 average while taking all Honors classes, no less,” said her father, Eugene Dallas.
Dallas cites her mom as her main inspiration.
“I really want to make my mom proud because she gets really excited when I go to competitions and she’s really there to support me through everything. Even at school when I have a test, she’s like ‘good luck’ and it makes me feel really good inside,” Dallas said.
For more information on when the Saratoga Springs gymnastics team plays, check out the Sports At a Glance page.
Coached by Harold Staulters (17 years), assisted by Gene Staulters. How many qualified: Eleven: Nick Palso (99), Wyatt Gorman (138), Ramel Brooks (145), Andrew Reynolds (152), Colby Harblin (160), Tyler Barnes (170), Peter Hansen (170), Jake Cook (182), Cameron Edwards (195), Nate Rurycz (220), Jake Stangle (285). Star Wrestlers: Tyler Barnes, Jake Cook, Jake Stangle, Nick Palso; all returning Section II champions. Quotes: “Stangle and Cook both have a great shot, Barnes is a New York State champ at the same weight, so we’re expecting the same thing this year. Palso is probably the best in the 99 group,” Coach Staulters commented.
Coached by Kris West (9 years), assisted by Jake Zanetti. How many qualified: Nine: Griffin Viviano (106), Jordan Sartin (113), Zach Watkins (113), Eric Groskowitz (120), Frank Spatafora (152), Ryan DiGuiseppe (160), Devin Crowe (170), Brant Robinson (220), Doug Cooper (285). Star Wrestlers: Jordan Sartin, Section II champion last year and two-time State qualifier.
Coached by Buck Anderson (4 years, 20 years as assistant), assisted by Eric Johannson. How many qualified: Five: Orion Anderson, Xavier Jones, Harrison Williams, Jeremy Brownell, Thomas Donovan Star Wrestlers: Orion Anderson, 2x returning state champ (126), Xavier Jones (138), placed 2x in sectionals.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar (SSAS) is a 501(c)(3) organization that, for a decade now, has been around to help financiallydisadvantaged young men and women in the Saratoga Springs School District complete high school and college. Ten high school sophomores are chosen each year for the program. Each scholar is provided with a mentor through the Saratoga Mentoring Program. This mentor stays with the student throughout their seven-year participation in the program.
“This year’s college acceptances are starting to come in. Our seniors have received more than 40 acceptances already, with more to come,” said Jim LaVigne, volunteer executive director of SSAS.
“We have had eight graduating classes, which is 76 kids, that have graduated from the high school portion of the program. One hundred percent of them have been accepted into college; most of these kids were kids that weren’t even going to go to college,” LaVigne explained.
“Our goal is to get them into college,” LaVigne stated.
With a 100 percent success rate, it looks like SSAS continues to meet their goal each year.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Monday, Feb. 5, the Division Street Elementary School held their 6th Annual STEM Expo.
“The STEM Expo is an educational STEM opportunity for families to engage in hands-on activities with the goal of engaging students in STEM and getting them excited about doing STEM jobs for a living someday. We invite the entire community from public and private schools as they are a part of our larger learning community! I am very proud of the fact that this event has inspired other schools in the Saratoga and surrounding districts to implement similar educational STEM nights/days for their students and families,” said PTA President, Connie Woytowich.
Before the PTA started their STEM Expo, they would coordinate with other parent volunteers to provide feedback to students on their scientific experiments. With the main parent volunteer leaving the school upon their child’s graduation, the PTA decided to “change things up a bit and engage more families by way of providing activities and opportunities for learning,” said Woytowich.
“The event was a success! We had at least 100 families show up to the event. One of our parents said, ‘this is my favorite event of the school year,’” Woytowich exclaimed.
'Fourteen exhibits were present for the families to explore and enjoy.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Waldorf School seventh graders finally had the opportunity to put their six-and-a-half years of learning French and the culture to use on a week-long field trip to Quebec and Montreal. While supervised by French teacher Patricia Hrebenach and classroom teacher Elizabeth Sabatella, the students were given the opportunity to explore the cities on their own in small groups. They partook in events such as dog sledding and touring the Ice Hotel. The students also had an assignment to complete a scavenger hunt that required them to follow directions to specific cultural sites and answer questions about the history, culture, and architecture, while only speaking in French.
[Photo by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]
WHO: Rich Johns
WHAT: Saratoga Springs High School Teacher and Sports Coach
Q. How long have you lived in Saratoga?
A. We’ve been in Saratoga since the fall of 1972, so you can do the math. It’s been over 45 years or so. I’ve been immersed in the community of Saratoga Springs and truly love being part of the community.
Q. How long have you been married?
A. Well, I better get this one right. My wife, Karen, and I have been married now for 46 years. I tell people ‘I think I was married when I was 15...’ I’m only kidding. We were married in August of 1971, I was going back to school for my senior year, Karen had graduated, and she became a teacher in the fall of ’71.
Q. How many children do you have?
A. We have one child, her name is Nicole, she is now 36 and she is a psychotherapist and yes, whether she is five or 36, she’s my little girl.
Q. What do you like to do for fun?
A. I do enjoy just being with my friends, there’s no question about that. I was very fortunate over the years to enjoy different sports. Karen and I spend a lot of time together and going for walks and enjoying seeing activities in the city. Taking short trips but always returning to Saratoga. I don’t see myself ever really leaving Saratoga. Q. If you had to describe your life as a movie genre, what would you say it’s been? A. Well you know, we never try to map out what our life will be like, we just sort of jump in it and we realize over time, life is life. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to go to college and pursue teaching. Coaching became part of it within that scope. I don’t want to use the term, ‘it’s been a wonderful life,’ it’s been a wonderful life. It certainly has been more that I can ever dream of as I’ve been able to move from teaching, coaching, and now sending the message that I have, which is now growing throughout the country. I could never have dreamt of anything like that. I consider myself a very lucky person, to have been married and enjoyed every bit of it. I don’t know if that fits a genre, but I know that it’s been very special and I do appreciate that.