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BALLSTON SPA– On Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School (Clean Tech ECHS) will host the first student project exhibition of the school year at the Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART.
Families, teachers, and community members are invited to come see what the students present their projects ranging from proposed activities for the Girls in STEM event, a mechanical car challenge, innovative solutions to problems identified in the environment, and marketing ideas incorporating nanotechnology. Over 275 area students in grades 9-12 (representing over 20 high schools) will attend to discuss their projects in the TEC-SMART Atrium.
BALLSTON SPA – Four minors were charged in connection with a Tuesday morning incident at the Ballston Spa Central School District which resulted in the middle school and the high school going into lock-down mode.
The most serious allegation – making a terroristic threat, a felony – was charged to a 14-year-old boy suspected of posting a threatening message on-line via Instagram. Three other boys – a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old from the town of Milton, and a 15-year-old from the village of Ballston Spa were each charged with the juvenile offense of unlawful possession of weapons by persons under the age of 16.
Tuesday morning, Ballston Spa Central School District administrators contacted Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office school outreach officers with information that there had been an on-line threat made by a student about a shooting at the school.
While investigating the allegation, authorities discovered that another student had brought a weapon into school that morning. School administrators located the weapon and turned it over to Sheriff’s Office Investigators. An investigation by Sheriff’s Office personnel revealed that the weapon was a blank pistol that looked identical to a real firing pistol.
All the juveniles were referred to the Saratoga County Probation Department.
Last Friday, a 16-year-old Saratoga Springs High School student was charged with making a terroristic threat after allegedly posting a story on Snapchat about "shooting up the school.”
[Photos courtesy of Ray Toohey.]
BALLSTON SPA – Coach Ray Toohey has an amazing lineup for his Varsity football team this year including four “vital” players.
Jake Cook is the starting linebacker and tight-end.
“A natural leader and phenomenal player with a very sound technique. He had 94 defensive tackles last year,” Coach Toohey said.
Tyler Barnes, starting defensive end and offensive tackle, “he’s also a state champion wrestler. He’s a tough kid, about 185 pounds but playing like he’s 210,” Toohey said of Barnes.
Jason McCarthy, only a junior but is on his third year on the varsity team, is the two-way starter running back linebacker.
“Jason was one of our top running backs and defensive players last year, he is an exceptional player,” Toohey said.
Joe McDonald, “Joe took a couple years off and came back to the game last year. He ended up being a starter on defense last year and now he’s a two-way starter for us. A great athlete and a great leader.”
Ryan O’Reilly, Jason Onsman, Matt Corwin, and Matt Murphy assist Toohey.
“Right now, it’s all about getting the scheme down,” Toohey said.
There are five sophomores on varsity and, “every single one of them is either starting or involved in the rotation somewhere. They are very good players. They are kids that have earned out trust through off season commitment too,” Toohey spoke highly of the sophomores.
“More than anything, we’re thrilled at the amount of kids we have this year. We have 41 kids and I know compared to some of the other Double A’s that may not sound all that impressive but we’ve never had 40 kids on the roster that I’m aware of. We’re very happy with where we’re at numbers wise. These are all kids that really buy in and care a lot about team goals,” Toohey said.
“We don’t have a ton of seniors,” Toohey continued, “but the ones that we do have are great. And most of our starters are sophomores and juniors so the future looks bright. We know that playing at the Double A level, there is never a week where it’s anything other than competitive. It’s a war every week.”
The Ballston Spa Scotties play their first game against the Albany Falcons on Saturday, September 2 at 1:00 p.m.
BALLSTON SPA - “After Hours,” an exhibit featuring the vintage photography of Bradford J. Smith, will be displayed Aug. 7-10 at the Brookside Museum.
Smith (1925–2016) was a photographer for over 75 years, during which he amassed a multitude of stunning photographs. A New York City fashion photographer during the 1940s and ‘50s by day, he shot nude portraits of aspiring actresses by night.
After Smith left his Madison Avenue studio, he returned to upstate New York and purchased a home in Ballston Spa, which today is the Saratoga County Historical Society’s Brookside Museum and fittingly, the site of the “After Hours” exhibit- where 50 of Bradford’s original vintage fashion and vintage nude prints will be on display and available for purchase, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Saratoga County Historical Society.
Brenda Dentinger, Bradford’s daughter is carrying out her father’s dream to share his work with the world. “These are originals that Brad had safely hidden away for over 50 years. Most of these vintage prints have never been displayed and the fashion and nude work have never been shown together,” Dentinger said, in a statement. “My father loved to share his stories with people and I am delighted to honor his memory in this creative way.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public and will take place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 7-9. The After Hours at Brookside Soiree will take place 7 p.m. Aug. 10 – during which Brookside will be transformed and attendees will have the chance to own a piece of the historic collection before it is auctioned in New York City in October.
After Hours at Brookside Soiree will feature a runway room with Bradford’s vintage fashion photography. Nude portraits will be discreetly displayed in a curtained-off area.
Tickets to the After Hours at Brookside Soiree are $50. VIP tickets are $150 and offer entry into the Soiree, the opportunity for pre-sale purchase of prints and a copy of the newly published companion After Hours book. Reservations may be made at AfterHoursVintage.com.
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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BALLSTON SPA – The second annual Scotties Stampede was another success for the Ballston Spa Central School District. Held on May 20, the 5K race and fundraiser brought in over 200 participants. While an exact figure is not yet available, race director Madeleine Petraglia estimates that several thousand dollars were raised at the event.
Proceeds from the race will go to support the Ballston Spa Partnership for Innovation in Education Fund, a part of the larger Community Foundation for a Greater Capital Region. Some of the programs that the fund supports include Sponsor-A-Scholar, the robotics club, “Performing & Fine Arts” programs, STEM enrichment initiatives, and the Clean Technologies & Sustainable Industries Early College High School. Many of these programs are key reasons why Ballston Spa Central School District has recently been highlighted as featuring one of the best high schools in the nation, being ranked 1,374 out of 22,000 schools by the US News & World Report’s Best High Schools list.
This year’s top three male finishers were Joey Vesic, 16, of Malta – who finished first overall across the entire race – Tyson Evensen, 35, of Saratoga Springs, and Vincent Mascardi III, 15, of Malta. The top three female finishers were Gabby Schreffer, 23, of Betnal, Dana Wiwczar, 41, of Malta, and Katherine Quinn, 20, of Niskayuna. Full race results can be found online at www.albanyrunningexchange.org.
Additionally at the event, the Ballston Spa Teachers Association distributed over 1,200 free books to attendees through their Book Bonanza program. This brings the total number of books the group has distributed over the course of 2017 to over 9,500.
The third annual Scotties Stampede is tentatively scheduled for May 19, 2018.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA COUNTY – Voters across New York State took to the polls at their local schools to vote on proposed budgets, board of education elections, and the odd proposition. Across the board in Saratoga County, budgets were passed and propositions were approved. Here are some of things that area voters decided to approve:
Saratoga Springs City School District:
-$122,712,342 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV: Passed
-Establishment of Capital Reserves Fund to ““finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations”: Passed
Ballston Spa Central School District:
-$90,340,742 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of buses and vehicles, $907,000: Passed
-Public library funding, $55,650: Passed
-Creation of Ballston Area Recreation Commission, $30,000: Passed
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District:
-$64,492,019 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Creation of student-held school board position: Authorized
Schuylerville Central School District:
-$34,849,537 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Bus leasing proposition: Passed
-Schuylerville Public Library funding: Passed
South Glens Falls Central School District: -$57,842,074 2017-18 budget: Passed -Purchase of five buses, one with wheelchair option, and one vehicle: Passed
Galway Central School District: -$21,058,918 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase four school buses: Passed
Mechanicville City School District: -$25,480,499 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase school bus: Passed -Sale of 0.44 acres of land on Elizabeth St. to Saratoga County for $1,000 for expansion of the Zim Smith trail: Approved
SARATOGA COUNTY – On May 16, residents across New York State will be able to vote on the proposed budget for their local school districts. In the interest of helping potential voters in the Saratoga County area make an informed decision, we have gathered together information about what will be on the ballots for a number of major local school districts.
Saratoga Springs City School District residents will be voting on four major things: the 2017-18 budget, the Board of Education election, and two propositions. This year’s proposed budget amounts to $122,712,342, which calls for a 3.64-percent spending increase over last year. According to the district’s website, this proposed budget was designed to “preserve the outstanding quality of education for students within the district.” On the Board of Education election ballot are three candidates running for three-year terms: Anjeanette Emeka, who works in academic affairs at SUNY Empire State College, Jennifer Leidig, President and CEO of Ambiance Commerical Systems and Vice President of Ambiance, and Dr. Stephan Verral, a Board Certified Dermatologist in private practice at Gateway Dermatology in Glens Falls and Malta.
Proposition Two will authorize the district to spend $1,075,000 on six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV. Proposition Three will authorize the creation of a “Capital Reserve Fund” to, according to the district website, “finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations.” The fund would pull from existing funds and would not result in a tax increase.
Ballston Spa Central School District residents will be voting on a proposed 2017-18 budget, to fill three Board of Education seats, and on additional propositions. This year’s proposed budget is $90,340,742, and represents a 2.1-percent spending increase, which would result in a 0.6-percent tax increase across the district. On the Board of Education ballot, voters will chose between candidates Michael O’Donnell, Katie Thimineur, Lillian McCarthy, and Jeanne Obermayer to fill three seats. Propositions on the ballot this year include a “School Vehicle Replacement Proposition” that allows the district to spend up to $907,000 to purchase and replace buses and vehicles, permission to collect $55,650 for public library funding, and $30,000 for the Ballston Area Recreation Commission.
Schuylerville Central School District residents will vote on a proposed 2017-18 budget, to fill two Board of Education seats, and on a few propositions. This year’s proposed budget is $34,849,537, representing a spending increase of 2.1-percent. The district’s website claims that this budget will allow for the continuation of programs and services for students, and for the continued “investment in literacy and technology with the continuation of a literacy coach and technology integration specialist.” On the Board of Education ballot, voters will choose from Stanley Barber, Michael Bodnar, and Veronica Wood to fill two seats. Additional propositions will include a proposition for bus leasing and another for the Schuylerville Public Library budget.
Finally, voters in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District will vote on a 2017-18 budget, on three Board of Education candidates, and on an additional proposition. This year’s proposed budget is $64,492,019, which will represent a 2.48-percent spending increase. The Board of Education ballot will include candidates Peter Sawyer, John Blowers, and Don Marshall. Proposition Two would authorize the district to create a new Board of Education position to be held by a student from the high school.
The state-wide school budget vote will take place on May 16, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Visit your district’s website to find out where your polling place will be this year.
BALLSTON SPA – It was the warmest and sunniest day of spring so far on April 10 when the Ballston Spa High School baseball team took to the diamond for the first time. Heading out onto solid turf that had recovered from recent bouts of rain, the team warmed up for the first game of their spring season against Albany High School as a playlist of high-energy hip-hop filled the air. Varsity head coach Curtis Nobles stood to the side near the dugout, monitoring his players and directing them to help improve their play-styles.
“[We’re] very confident,” Nobles said about his faith in the team heading into the season. “Everyone’s chasing the same thing, getting sectionals, and trying to make a run at a sectional title.”
This goal to grab a sectional title got off to a solid start, as the Scotties bested the Albany High Falcons with a strong 11-5. Standout players from the game, according to Nobles, were sophomore Luke Gold, who put up two hits and two RBI’s, and senior Aaron Hinman, who scored two RBI doubles.
Practice began for the spring season on March 7, but it was mostly indoors on account of the damp and frigid weather that only let up recently.
“They’ve been productive,” Nobles said about the Scotties’ spring preparations. “Lately they’ve had to be short and sweet because we’ve been inside so much. So, just to kind of keep things efficient but not over-dragged we made sure that we come in and gets quality reps rather than quantity.”
Nobles expressed particular excitement for senior Grady Gawrys, citing impressive relief appearances last season and the hard work that he has been putting into practice for this season.
“He looks like he’s prepared and ready and willing to do whatever it takes to have a winning season,” Nobles said about Gawrys.
Jared Winkle, a team captain, was also singled out as a strong, quiet leader for the team, one that leads by example on and off the field
The Scotties are coming into spring off of one of their strongest runs ever. Last season, they became Ballston Spa’s first ever state-ranked baseball team, being ranked 11th in the state, and put up a 15-5 win-loss record.
“The best [season] in school history from what I hear,” Nobles said.
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.