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WILTON – Closing out its most recent “Share the Love” charity campaign, New Country Subaru on Route 50 presented a check for $7,388 to local anti-bullying organization, “Act with Respect Always” (AWRA). Headed by former Saratoga Spring tennis coach Rich Johns, AWRA visits schools and encourages students to understand what their peers may be going through and to treat them with respect. This is New Country’s ninth year participating in Subaru’s nationwide Share the Love campaign. In 2013, local dealerships were allowed to choose charities within their own communities to raise money for, alongside other nationally recognized organizations. This year, the other charities included the ASPCA, Meals on Wheels, the Make-a-Wish foundation, and the National Park Foundation.
This marks the first year that New Country Subaru chose to raise money for AWRA. Annie Robillard-Esposito, regional representative for Subaru, said that it is up to the specific retailer whether or not they work with a charity again for future Share the Love campaigns.
“It’s not just to sell cars, and do it for business,” Robillard-Esposito said. “It’s actually to do the right thing for the community.”
The Share the Love event raises money by allowing every customer to choose a charity they wish to donate to, and for each car sold, Subaru of America donates $250. Customers are able to choose multiple charities, so the amount often ends up split however many ways for each charity chosen. This most recent campaign lasted from Nov. 17 to Jan. 3.
As part of his work with AWRA, Johns tells people to accept the “1-percent” of others, meaning their outward differences such as appearance and class, and to get to know their “99-percent,” meaning the inner workings of a person that define them far deeper than tangible traits.
“I’m working hard to take away those labels on the 1-percent,” Johns said. “That we should all be accepted for who we are, what we look like, where we live… you are driving a different automobile, but I want to know what’s inside you, and that’s the 99-percent.”
All photos by Thomas Kika.
SCHUYLERVILLE – The Schuylerville branch of the National Honor Society inducted 45 new members in ceremony held on April 12. Inductees were chosen based on several criteria, including scholarship, character, leadership, and community service. Students and other attendees were also treated to words from guest speaker Khamel Abdulai, the director of training and talent management at Excelsior College and adjunct professor at the College of Saint Rose.
The inductees are as follows:
- Hailey Abruscato
- Cameron Alber
- Brandon Aschauer
- Grace Beaulac
- Freya Birkas-Dent
- Kassandra Brennan
- Alison Burnham
- Amanda Carlstrom
- Emily Carlstrom
- Lillian Claus
- Cassaundra Darrah
- Thomas Donovan
- Ryan Durie
- Samantha Ellis
- Hannah Eustis
- Elizabeth Fordyce
- Zachary Galcik
- Aidan Garry
- Sidney Gregorek
- Morgan Gunter
- Mikhail Hailu
- Grace Hanehan
- Nathan Hefner
- Jack Hemingway
- Jessica Hinners
- Devynn Hough
- Caitlin Kelleher
- Johnathan King
- Kadon Lane
- Jessica Melita
- Amy Moreau
- Teghan Murray
- Cassie Patrick
- Matthew Peck
- Lyndsey Prince
- Christine Putman
- Casey Renner
- Trent Thomas
- Tristan Turner
- Emily Vallee
- Dominic Vito
- Alice Voell-White
- Emily Warmt
- Katelyn Weed
- Derek Willson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Springs High School inducted 194 students into the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society during a ceremony on April 4. In order to be eligible, students had to maintain a grade point average of over 90, gather five signatures of recommendation from teachers, complete 20 hours of community service, and write a one-page essay reflecting on the value of their community service.
Here is the full list of inductees:
Ha Jin Kim
Eve Mehalick Wilcox
Julia Van Horne
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Galloping up and down the emptied corn filed behind Pitney Meadows Community Farm, “Claude’s Alley Cat” begins its preparation for the 2017 racing scene in earnest with some gentle exercises. Before long, the two-year-old stallion will move onto the Oklahoma Training Track, across the street from the Saratoga Race Course, to begin more intense training.
For trainer Melvin Winney, Claude’s Alley Cat, named in memory of his late father, looks to make his return to the horse racing business a successful one. Running his first winning horse back in 1996 with “David Parson,” Winney went on to run eight winning horses during his career, including “Back Door Deal” and “Ms. Will a Way.” Now, after five years away from the business, he sees the potential for victory in his latest horse.
“He’s been doing everything right from day one,” Winney said. “He broke easily, quietly.”
Winney’s new horse was sired by celebrated stallion “Desert Party,” which currently resides at the Irish Hill Century Farm in Stillwater and was previously owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai.
“Most two-year-olds will go out with other two-year-olds to keep each other company,” Winney said about his new horse. “This guy, he doesn’t need any company, he’s very attentive, he’s focused. He’s like an older horse for a baby. He’s just a baby.”
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
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.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – What began with six kindergarteners in the basement of the Trinity Methodist Church in Gansevoort has now, 25 years and change later, grown to include 132 K-6 students in its own building, tucked away amongst the trees on 60-acres of land.
The Saratoga Independent School (SIS) has been celebrating 25 years of operation since the beginning of the current school year back in Sept. 2016. From humble beginnings, the school has grown in both scope and vision, with its enrollment numbers swelling by well over 100, and the amount of classes and programs on offer growing at the same pace. Looking to the immediate future, the growth seems likely to continue.
Back in Sept. 1991, the parents of six local preschool students on their way to kindergarten found that there were not any schools in the area that would offer their children the same style of education that they had gotten in preschool. Specifically, they wanted a school that would not group them with other children strictly by date of birth, and that would teach them thematically, weaving different subjects around a common idea to give them a better sense of how their lessons reflected the world around them.
“So, these five parents did everything from getting the charter from State Ed,” Felice Karlitz, Director of School, said. “Finding a place, and [they] started the school in the basement of the Methodist church in Gansevoort with their own five kids.”
From the start, the growth of enrollment at SIS was strong. In three years, the school had outgrown the basement and moved to the warehouse area behind a Shoe Depot on Division St. in Saratoga Springs. In 2003, after “exponential” enrollment and staffing increases, the school raised $850,000 in land, gifts, and pledges to begin the construction of their current location, the Anderson Campus, named in honor of Gail Anderson and her late husband, Willard.
[CORRECTION: In the print version of this article, it was incorrectly stated that Gail Anderson was deceased. This is incorrect, and the online version has been corrected to reflect this information.]
In 2010, the school added an east wing, adding space for new computer and science labs, as well as a dedicated art room. A year later, in 2011, SIS achieved one its biggest milestones by earning accreditation from the New York State Association of Independent Schools, which involved “a two year introspective self study, a four day visit by a review committee, and a full NYSAIS review of the findings by the committee and the school.”
Currently, construction is underway on the second floor of the school’s east wing, which the school intends to use to add grade 7-8 middle school level programs to their offerings. They estimate that this new middle school will be up and running in 2019.
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Most people might balk at the idea of a weekly commute from Ballston Spa to New York City and back, but for one area student and her family, it could not be more exciting.
Alexandra Bretz-Aguirre, a freshman student at the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, is currently enrolled in New York University’s (NYU) prestigious “Future Filmmakers” workshop, where she currently spends her Saturdays learning the ways of cinema from the university’s faculty of film industry luminaries. Hitting the road on Friday, Bretz-Aguirre and her mother, Catherine Bretz, stay the night in the city before her lessons, which run from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Following that, they head back home straight away, getting in late on Saturday night.
It can be an exhausting process, but it is one that Bretz-Aguirre is happy to undertake if it allows her to follow her dreams.
“I like, leave Friday, come back Saturday night,” Bretz-Aguirre said. “But we’re always excited. It’s worth it.”
Bretz-Aguirre’s dream to attend NYU began when she was 10-years-old, visiting the city with her mother. After noting the university’s purple flags, she and her mother went to the Tisch School for the Arts and were given a tour. Since then, she was driven to one day attend the school. Frequently, she would browse the university’s online program listings, passing the time and looking for anything that sparked her interest. That spark came when she found the Future Filmmakers program. She was intrigued right away.
Bretz-Aguirre’s love for film grew in tandem with a love for photography, both of which were passed down from her father, Oscar Aguirre. She and her family had also always been film buffs, with a particularly affection for the work of director Hal Ashby. She has been practicing her photography since she was 13. Considering this love of film and her desire to attend NYU, the Future Filmmakers program looked like a huge opportunity for her.
According to Bretz-Aguirre, the process for applying to the program involved a lot of essay writing. Some of the prompts included “How do you think filmmaking is encouraged in your world,” and other more general ones that were meant to give them a sense of the applicant as a person. There was also an interview portion that came later on in the process, wherein the interviewers discussed various images and their meanings. Two days later, Bretz-Aguirre saw an email in her inbox with the best news she could have hoped for.
“I was screaming,” she said. “I was doing my homework, and I was checking my email, and I saw [the word] ‘accepted.’”
Bretz-Aguirre’s parents noted with particular pride how competitive the admission process had seemed. Indeed, she is one of only 14 high school students from the tri-state area accepted into the program, and within that group, she is one out of only two freshmen.
In the program, Bretz-Aguirre is learning from some of the brightest talents in the film world. These include the likes of Kelly Edwards, Head of Talent Development at HBO, and Grammy-winning music video director Melina Matsoukas. In one standout lesson, her class was instructed by film editor and frequent Spike Lee collaborator Samuel D. Pollard, who showed the class “Mo’ Better Blues” without sound to show them how the images on their own tell the story. Bretz-Aguirre found this to be particularly illuminating.
Lessons began on the first weekend of February. All of the film projects that Bretz-Aguirre and her classmates work on must be silent, so that they can focus on conveying meaning purely through images. The lessons and projects also stress the collaboration at the heart of filmmaking. Her class has worked together with other NYU workshop classes, including the “Future Dramatic Writers” and “Future Dancers and Dancemakers.” She was immediately fascinated with the tasks given to her on their first project, which involved finding actors and scouting for locations.
“It was so interesting,” she said.
Moving forward from the 12-week workshop, Bretz-Aguirre plans on continuing to explore filmmaking. She hopes to make a film all on her own someday soon, and she is hoping to establish a film club at the Waldorf School. And while she stressed that this was not necessarily the only end-goal for her, she said that she could see herself pursuing a career in the film business.
“I love it,” her mother Catherine Bretz said. “I love to see her involved with the diversity of the program and the craft.”
“We’re amazed at her dedication and focus,” her father Oscar Aguirre said. “It was her initiative that drove this.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The air was seasonably mild and the afternoon sun was strong when the Saratoga Boys Tennis team’s spring season kicked off.
Facing off against the visiting Shaker High School team on April 3, the air of confidence and friendship amongst the Saratoga Springs High School athletes was as relaxed as the weather. As each matchup was announced, the other members cheered and hollered as their teammate made his way to shake hands with his opponent for the day. Coming off last season, this team may have every reason to feel confident and at ease.
“We ended up winning the section for the first time in the school’s history [last season],” head coach Tim O’Brien said. “It was a great year last year. We lost some important players from last year’s team, but we also have a lot of seniors this year that are gonna be very experienced.”
Amongst these seniors, O’Brien singled out a few that seemed particularly promising going forward into the season. David Romano, who has been playing on Saratoga tennis teams since 8th grade and will be attending Brown University next fall, was one of them, defeating Shaker’s Ashatash Valigar in two games, 6-1 and 6-3. Seungmin Kim was another of those seniors, a transfer from Texas a few seasons back, who defeated Niraj Shah in two games, 6-1 on both counts.
This first match went decisively in the Blue Streak’s favor, with the Saratoga athletes winning in each of the nine match-ups, six singles and three doubles. In all, things look to be going well for another dominant season.
Practice began indoors on March 13, and have continued indoors for the past few weeks on account of weather. March 30 marked their first outdoor practice.
“It’s exciting to actually be out and enjoying the weather,” O’Brien said.
-David Romano (Saratoga, Senior) vs. Ashatash Valigar (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-3
-Seungmin Kim (Saratoga, Senior) vs. Niraj Shah (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-1
-Nick Grosso (Saratoga, Grade 8) vs. Ryan Parks (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-0, Set 2: 6-0
-Max Lee (Saratoga, Senior) vs. Cameron Germaine (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-0, Set 2: 4-6, Set 3: 6-4
-Eddie Towers (Saratoga, Junior) vs. Kevin Luu (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-3, Set 2: 6-0
-Luke DeRizzo (Saratoga, Junior) vs. Noah Massry (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-1
-Matt Chmiel & David Ackerman (Saratoga, Seniors) vs. Nasiru Kotey & Rahul Akkeem (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-3, Set 2: 6-1
-Ben Crandall & Max Jackson (Saratoga, Sophomore and Junior respectively) vs. P.K. Kura & Sonny Gajjala Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-2, Set 3: 6-0
-Pratik Gurung & Matt Hogan (Saratoga, Junior and Freshman respectively) vs. George Tidd & Zavi Uppal Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-1
Final: Saratoga, 9-0
[UPDATE: When originally published, this article incorrectly referred to sets as "games." This has been corrected for the online version.]
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The play-offs for the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s youth basketball league were held recently, marking the end of the league’s current season before the new summer league commences in June. In the Saratoga Rotary Jr. Division, the D’Andrea’s Pizza and BHHS Blake Realtors teams faced off, with D’Andrea’s coming out on top, 42-32. In the Saratoga/Wilton Elks Lodge Sr. Division, the Toyota of Clifton Park and Mexican Connection teams competed in the finals, with the Toyota of Clifton Park team taking the win, 56-46.
Along with the finals, the youth league also gave out the James Cudney Award, which goes to the player who most exemplifies the YMCA’s core values. This year, the award went to Saratoga Springs High School junior Elias Wohl.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Amateur boxers came together in Saratoga Springs this past weekend to fight for a good cause.
On March 25, the Saratoga Springs City Center played host to a night of amateur boxing to honor and raise money for celebrated Capitol Region boxing promoter, Bob Miller. Miller, a 60-year industry veteran and founder of the Uncle Sam Boxing Club in Troy, was in a serious car accident on Oct. 15 of last year that left him paralyzed. Shortly after, the Miller family established the Bob Miller Fund, a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising money to help cover Miller’s expenses, including “his medical care, the equipment (e.g., wheelchair, braces) he will need, and lodging for Linda, our father's wife, and the immediate family so that we can continue to support him during his long rehabilitation away from home,” according to the page’s description.
Doors opened for the event at 6:30 p.m., with the first bout commencing at 7:30 p.m. A total of 13 bouts took place over the course of the show, which drew around 850 attendees. According to city center executive director Ryan McMahon, when factoring in volunteers and trainers, the total attendance number for the night was closer to 1,000.
“Very strong,” McMahon said about the night’s attendance figures.
Some of the bouts on the card included Schuylerville-native Joey Barcia against Francis Hogan of Boston, Alison Watson of Vermont against Jamere Shelby of Albany, Malachi Davis of Albany against Richard Hogan of Boston, and the Uncle Sam Boxing Club’s own Tugar VanDommelen against Gianni Gragnano. In addition to the boxing, other fundraising activities at the event included a raffle and a silent auction.
At time of writing, event organizer Dave Wojcicki estimates that the event raised around $15,000 for the Bob Miller Fund. When asked if the city center would possibly work with Bob Miller and company in the future, McMahon was optimistic.
“We would love to,” McMahon said. “Bob is a long standing client and fixture in Saratoga Springs boxing.”
Anyone interested in donating to the Bob Miller Fund can find the campaign’s page at www.gofundme.com/bob-miller-fund-2unsxys.
All photos in this story are by PhotoAndGraphic.com.