Opal Jessica Bogdan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Anxiety and nerves have been placed on hold across families in the Saratoga Springs Central School District as their students stepped into their second week of classes.
The school began the year with two days of online orientation, where parents, students and teachers were introduced to each other in addition to the technology that will be used for the school year. The two-day orientation allowed students to connect both socially and emotionally.
Last week students in grades Kindergarten through third grade attended in-person learning for five days of instruction. In addition, students who were transitioning to a new building, such as sixth graders who are elementary going into middle school, attended five days of in-class instruction as well. The ninth and tenth graders were allowed to attend in-person as well, but were divided into
The school selected an education plan that combines in-person and online learning. They divided older students into two different sections according to their last name; to ensure proper social distance protocols can remain in place.
Board of Education President Anjeanette Emeka believes that the school year will become smoother as it progresses.
“I think as the kids get used more to things and as the teachers and parents get more comfortable with technology and the new normal, I think it’s going to become more smooth,” Emeka said.
She added: “From what I’m hearing the school year has been going really well so far. We are having the normal bumps and adjustments that you have doing something so drastically new, but everyday it sounds like they mange and adjust and continue.”
With so many nerves entering the school year, Emeka has noticed her neighbors and friends have been pleasantly surprised and have kept a positive attitude as they entered the school year.
“The teachers rightful so had a lot of concerns going in, and nerves. I can’t imagine… there were so many unknowns,” Emeka said. “The unknown about teaching online and teaching in person as well. Once the unknowns start to get whittled down, the anxiety goes down.”
The district had four advisory committees that met every week this past summer to develop the school year plan. Emeka participated in one of the committees, and noticed how meticulous the district was in considering what would be best for their students.
“I’d like to emphasize the phenomenal work of the district over the summer…its just been this huge undertaking,” Emeka said. “The things that I have seen, I could not be prouder of a district.”
An entirely different school-learning model is not the only change at the district. The school also offers free breakfast and lunch to any interested student. Normally, families would have to fill out a form to apply for free meals, but the district has since done away with any forms.
“If [a student] wants food they can simply go and get it,” Emeka said. “It takes food to feed the brain and allow you to learn.”
GALWAY — A local memorial 5K has been asking for a different kind of donation this year in honor of a Galway High School student who took his life in 2003.
The sixth annual Andrew C. Izzo memorial 5K has the mission to not only preserve the memory of Andrew C. Izzo, but to raise awareness for suicide and mental health issues in high school age kids and young adults.
“We want to help spread the message of suicide awareness. It’s okay to talk about it, and it’s very important to deal with mental health issues and not put them aside or sweep them under the rug,” said John Izzo, Andrew’s father.
The 5K-memorial run has not only gone virtual this year, but is asking for an unusual fee: an act of kindness.
“Everyone is struggling out there and not everyone has the extra money to go donating to different places and a lot of people are in need,” Izzo said. “The cost for the 5k this year is there is no actual monetary cost. The cost is to go out and do good for somebody. Perform an act of kindness for someone and let us know about it. And that’s the cost.”
Participants are encouraged to share their 5K “fee” via email or online and responses will be shared at the end of the event. While the 5K began on Sept. 18, interested community members can participate until Oct. 1, which is the last day.
Izzo is paying his 5K fee by walking or hiking each day the two week event is happening.
“Granted its not running, but I’m walking in different places in the capital district or doing hikes in the Adirondacks. Each one I do at least 3.1 miles, which is a 5K,” Izzo said.
Tuesday marked the fifth day Izzo has supported the event. As his act of kindness and to help raise awareness, he ventured out to Saratoga where he met up some friends in the military. As a former military member, Izzo spoke with them about the importance of mental health awareness and completed a 5K.
Izzo has shared videos each day on the event's Facebook page as well. In them he shares encouraging words along with ideas for your own act of kindness.
Last year the event attracted over 300 participants, and while they hoped for a bigger year, the family and committee knew moving the 5K online along with changing their fee was the best decision.
Memorial committee members created the event one year after Andrew Izzo committed suicide at the age of 17. Izzo said his son was well known in the community as an outstanding athlete.
“He was very well known in the community, primarily sports and athletics in school. As a result, that’s where the 5K came from. A lot of the people involved with sports programs got together and wanted to do something,” Izzo said.
Izzo wanted to highlight the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He said their resources, programs and support helped him and his family cope with Andrew’s passing and recommends AFSP for anyone in the community.
To find out more about the 5K event visit www.fund4andrew.org or their facebook page at www.facebook.com/andrewizzomemorialfund. AFSP can be visited at afsp.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Since their first and final week of practice this past spring, high school varsity tennis players stepped back onto the court after waiting six long months since the Tennis Program at Saratoga Springs was forced to close down.
Tim O’Brien, coach of the program, said their first practice this past Monday went well and players were eager to abide by safety precautions put in place in order for them to play.
“[The practice] went well. It was nice to see the kids on the court,” O’Brien said. “It’s obviously a little different than what we are used to with the face coverings and [safety precautions], but we know that this is a great opportunity and the kids know that it's something that we have to do and something that will allow us to get on the court and get a season in.”
He added: “We have a lot of safety measures put in place to make sure that distancing is maintained and that practices are successful. We had separated practice [Monday] and we are going to continue to do that.”
The 2020 team consists of both junior varsity, ranging students in eighth grade up through tenth grade and the varsity program, which carries tenth to twelfth.
“Some schools have only been approved for varsity tennis so we were fortunate to maintain our JV program through all this,” O’Brien said.
The program is no cut, meaning any student who wishes to play in the program, can. O’Brien said about fifty kids signed up, and separating the practices allows the players to remain socially distanced.
The team will play their first match is Saturday, Oct. 3 and will play Monday, Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31. The varsity will play a 13-match season while the junior varsity will play seven. O’Brien expressed gratitude that not only could students play tennis, but the seniors would get this last chance to play a sport they enjoy at a high school level.
“The seniors are excited,” O’Brien said. “[At practice] we talked about the fact that the kids in the spring had one week of play before everything got shut down. They really can’t take one practice for granted…just take everything as it goes and be appreciative that we have a chance to do this.”
As the season progresses, O’Brien is positive the precautions put in place will keep the team safe, and he looks forward to the Oct. matches.
He added: “Both my other coaches are real excited to be out as well. It’s really a great part of our day to be able to work with the kids and we are looking forward to a nice season ahead.”
SCHUYLERVILLE — McCarthy’s Zark’s Angels Hair Salon has opened the doors to a new location, only located one door down from their old shop.
This new location allowed the family styled barbershop to re-open their doors after closing them on March 21. Owner of McCarthy’s Zark’s Angels Hair Salon Shelly Squire and her daughter Erika Squires attempted to open their doors earlier in the pandemic, but found it impossible to safely service their clients.
“When we came back to work, I would work the morning shift then Erika would come in and work the afternoon shift,” Shelly Squires said. “With our requirements we had to be six-feet-apart, could only allow so many people in the space…
we couldn’t give a safe space for our cliental.”
In Shelly Squires and Erika Squires’ previous place, the barbershop chairs were too close together and after attempting shower curtains, walls and shields between the two chairs, they admitted defeat shortly after and shut their doors. However, a year prior they had spoken to the building landlord Jim Parisi about opening a larger location on the other end of the mini-mall.
Squires said renovations started in January, and the shop has officially been opened for two weeks. More than doubled the size of their old location, the Squires’ also included a better air quality system, which larger stores do have to installed per COVID-19 regulations. However, Squires said she added it for a different reason.
“One of the biggest things when you work in this industry is the odor. The odors from hairspray, colors, gels, bleach and people have their own perfumes. We put this really great filtration system and exchange so the air is clean,” Squires said.
She first met previous owner of the barbershop Zark McCarthy in 1986 when she learned styling techniques and hair cutting tricks while working for him. He later sold the salon to Squires, and she cut down to her roots and became the only worker at the salon. Squires daughter Erika Squires later joined the salon.
“We were in this tiny place that was designed for just me, and we both worked there for six years,” Squires said. “We have this really amazing clientele. They are loving, kind and positive clients.”
Since opening their doors two weeks ago, Squires said she missed working next to her daughter the most.
“We really missed working together and we just work well together. We are not the same person but we have fun with each other and just understand each other,” Squires said.
The best way to reach Zark’s Angels is by calling Shelly Squires at 518-369-1403 or Erika Squires at 518-469-2252. Their salon is located at 118 Broad St., Schuylerville.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Some businesses shut their doors during the 2020 pandemic, but Maura Pulver, owner of Five Points Market & Deli, used the restrictions as an opportunity.
Pulver created Simply Food by Maura to continue her tradition of great breakfast sandwiches and homemade Take 5 Dinners. She also hopes to expand her business focus to private catering.
“Life comes with many opportunities. Sometimes I have even been fortunate enough to latch onto them, and while change can always be scary, it also brings new and exciting memories that we are not yet aware of. I call this a chance to Get to the Point,” Pulver wrote on Facebook. “I will only be down the street. I will still be making breakfast sandwiches…with some mad crazy additions. I will be adding additional Take [five] dinners during the week. And I will be catering. I will take some wonderful Five Point traditions with me and create some new and fantastic ones.”
Pulver plans to sell her breakfast sandwiches out of a commercial kitchen at the Saratoga Springs Senior Citizen Center. In addition to breakfast, she will begin a catering business and continue a popular take-out option she offered at Five Points, called Take Five Dinners.
So far, Pulver has released menu details for Simply Food. Some items include: the Points Classic made up of two eggs, american cheese, choice of sausage, bacon or ham on toasted hard roll and the Blueberry Bomb made of two eggs, sausage, cheddar with a maple syrup drizzle on grilled blueberry bread.
The doors to Five Points officially closed Aug. 31 after Pulver had owned it for eight-and-a-half years. Just like other downtown businesses, Pulver had reduced her staff, menu and hours of operation due to the pandemic. She then used her extra time to create her new catering business.
On her website, Pulver states that loyalty points from a Five Points account can carry-over to Simply Food by Maura. Free lunches on Saturday and Sunday will also continue at the new location.
“The support of the community has been so very generous, we look forward sharing this small gesture with our neighbors as long as there is a need to do so,” Pulver wrote on her website.
She added: “In a year of pandemic pivoting, I have arrived at a new point in my journey. Over these challenging months I have been fortunate to continue doing what I love…simply feeding my community. Whether our simple free lunches, deliciously simple Take Five Dinners and take out, or our creatively simple catered covid celebrations. I have been in my element.”
Simply Food by Maura will be located at 5 Williams Street and her website can be reached at simplyfoodbymaura.com.
BALLSTON SPA — The community of Saratoga Springs welcomes the Youth Ballet (SSYB) non-profit aimed at providing quality professional dance training to pre-professional students.
Cristiane Santos and Joan K Anderson started their non-profit this year after working together for eight-years. The two professional dancers decided to open their own ballet school to focus on proper ballet training and technique.
“We have been working together for quite some time and the two of us have a similar vision on how we think a good ballet and dance training ought to be,” K Anderson said.
Santos added: “We wanted to have a dance school that can bring something back to the community. Not just about us teaching the students, we want to offer services to the community besides the dance classes...we also would like to build a scholarship fund to eventually offer a scholarship for a students who doesn’t have access to dance education.”
Through SSYB, students can achieve their potential as dancers and artists while learning in a collaborative environment. A focus is put on building self-confidence and maturity in a nurturing atmosphere and SSYB places an emphasis on performance and positive reinforcement. Dancers learn the value of hard work and garner an appreciation and love for the arts.
The non-profit offers classes in ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, and conditioning for dancers ages three to adult.
“Our youngest student is three-years-old,” K Anderson said. “[We] offer a few open classes to adults and older teens who perhaps don’t want to do the rigorous schedule, but they just want come in and do a contemporary class.”
Any interested student needs to register and pay in advance to help SSYB social distance. Any dancer coming into the building will have their temperature checked parents will not be allowed in to the building. There is a registration limit.
“In person classes, for the younger age group the max is eight [dancers] for the older students its ten [dancers],” Santos said. “The classes that we are doing hybrid, some in the classroom some virtual, we are only going to accept four-kids for the virtual class if we have ten-in person.”
Classes will begin Sept. 14 and run through June 2021. Santos and Kilgore-Anderson said they hope to offer a 2021 summer camp. Interest community members can register and find more information on their website at www.saratogaspringsyouthballet.org.
K Anderson first danced professionally with Cedar Lake II and went on to dance with Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Company, where she was a senior member and toured extensively both nationally and internationally. She performed many ballet and modern classics as well as contemporary and new works by renowned choreographers from around the world.
Cristiane Santos Founder, Co-Artistic Director Santos danced and taught ballet and tap for seven years at Ballet Vera Bublitz in Brazil. She was accepted to Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) school with a full scholarship and joined the company’s Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble through which she performed in lecture demonstrations at public schools around the country, taught movement classes in NYC public schools, and performed with DTH during its 30th anniversary season.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – After a fire on Aug. 21 blazed through celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s home on Chuckwagon Drive in Lake Luzerne, local chimney expert Jamie Wallace, president of Chimney Heroes, wants the community to know how to prevent these fires.
“Following a thorough evaluation of the physical evidence, witness interviews, and various photographs and video clips, investigators from New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control have determined the fire which damaged a residence on Chuckwagon Drive in Lake Luzerne was accidental in nature and began in the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace,” Colin Brennan, a spokesman for the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said to the Times Union.
Wallace said fires like the one at the Ray’s household is preventable.
“The best way to prevent it is really follow the guidelines from the national fire protection agency (NFPA211),” Wallace said. “What they do is recommend what the standard is for chimneys and vents and other things within the home, and their standard is to have them inspected annually.”
Annual inspections ensure homeowners don’t have flammable substances in their chimney and checks that the flue, which is the liner in the chimney that lets the dangerous gases escapes, is in shape. Wallace said there are three levels to an inspection.
“Basic inspection level one has 60 points of inspection, depending on if it’s a fireplace, stove or furnace. Level two [inspection] involves a chimney camera and checking the roof, attic, all the parts that the chimney passes through the home. Level three [inspection] is only needed if there has been an incident like a chimney fire or some kind of tree damage, we open up the chimney and figure out what’s wrong with it,” Wallace said.
Wallace warns the homeowners with chimneys should have a professional survey each year.
“I think chimneys are like septic systems, you don’t really think about them or notice them until there is a problem, although no one intends to neglect their chimney,” Wallace said.
According to their website, the company receives many phone calls for blocked or plugged chimneys from downtown Saratoga. Blocked and plugged chimneys create a great risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. This happens because of the chimney’s age, how they were built, or what fuel they now serve. Many of these chimneys do not have clay liners, which causes the actual bricks to deteriorate and fall into the chimney. Others that do have a clay tile liner are often so deteriorated that giant flakes and pieces of the flue collapse in on itself.
Wallace created Chimney Heroes in 2009 Saratoga Springs, when the company was known as Saratoga Chimney Sweep. The company has grown to accommodate six trucks dedicated to helping the local community.
“We live by our core values and just really try to create a company that is ethical. We are a customer service company that specializes in chimneys because I think customer service is one of those things we try to excel at,” Wallace said.
Chimney Heroes has locations in Malta, Clifton Park, Albany, Queensbury and Niskayuna.
“The greatest thing that everybody loves working at Chimney Heroes is we really do kind of get to play a hero in someone’s life. We really do protect people from dangerous flue gases or keeping their chimney clean. It’s fun to keep people safe,” Wallace said. “We enjoy what we do and we do our best to keep everybody safe.”
Chimney Heroes website can be visited at chimneyheroes.com and reached at 518-424-8620
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Stampede 13U summer team hit a 17-game winning streak for their season.
“We played a total of 29 games…and we finished the season with a record of 23-5-1,” said Phonsey Lambert, coach of the 13U team as well as the athletic director and baseball coach at Saratoga Central Catholic High School.
“What was interesting is, we beat 18-14U teams, and one 17U team along the way,” Lambert said.
Lambert’s team was elevated in a tournament called Last Man Standing where they advanced to the championship game.
“They moved us up to the 14U level. They advanced us up there and we lost the championship game on a walk off base hit 4-3,” Lambert said.
That loss ended the Stampede’s 17 game winning streak, but Lambert said he was impressed with how the team played this summer.
“We had a great year and an outstanding season. The kids followed guidelines and they were hard workers. They were great listeners and they have a lot of talent on this team,” Lambert said. “The kids played very well together during the summer and during these difficult times. We are very respectful towards each other and they are very coachable. The players were respectful of the new rules and regulations in this ever-changing world in our pandemic.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saving Face Barbershop in Saratoga Springs decided to buzz it’s way to support local students attending school this fall.
Jeremiah Cregan and his business Saving Face Barbershop has been feeling the toll COVID-19 has taken on locally owned businesses, but decided to continue their yearly tradition of giving back to the schools.
“We usually do a fundraiser every year that’s called Barber-Q. It’s our annual fundraiser and client appreciation day. Every year we do free haircuts, free food and drinks, live music and we encourage donations and we give those donations to a local charity. But we had to cancel due to everything with COVID-19,” Cregan said.
Saving Face is running a back to school promotion for local kids attending school this fall. They will be conducting an online raffle to win a backpack with a cromebook laptop, pens and pencils, notebooks and more. Parents can purchase raffle tickets online at www.savingfacebarbershop.com.
“We will give donations to the Saratoga Bridges,” Cregan said. “We can still do something good for the community.”
They will draw the winner for the raffle on Sept. 5 at 12 p.m. and tickets can be purchased until that time.Saving Face has been open for a year and a half and are located at 68 West Ave., Suite 5. They can be contacted at 518-450-1217.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Members of the Saratoga Little League Challenger Division played their hearts out this past Thursday at their under the lights baseball game.
Teammates had a chance to help each other hit a ball, throw a ball and tag each other while staying socially safe. Robert Kelly and Derrick LeGall, president of the league, designed the program to give children with special needs the chance to play baseball.
Saratoga Spring Little League’s adaptive baseball program is in its fifth year and is only one of a few in the region. It gives players with specialized needs a place to join in and enjoy playing the game of baseball in our community.