Jaynie Ellis

Jaynie Ellis

Thursday, 23 September 2021 12:54

SSCSD Board of Education Updates as of Sept. 21

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs City School District held a Board of Education meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss a new COVID screening testing partnership with Saratoga County, “Stay Open Plan” updates, as well as updates on the capital Legacy project

New COVID Screening Testing Partnership

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Patton has announced a COVID screening testing partnership with the Saratoga County Department of Health, working closely with the County Director of Health. Saratoga Springs City School District is a couple of weeks away from implementing weekly screening and diagnostic tests, with the opportunity for those who ae vaccinated to opt out. As of Sept. 21, 79% of eligible people in the county ages 12 and up are vaccinated, and based on staff reports, 83% of staff members in the Saratoga Springs City School District are vaccinated.

“Saratoga is leading the way when it comes to having both screening and diagnostic testing available to school districts,” said Dr. Patton. 

Federal funding is available for the district to run this program and is available to all districts in the area. Saratoga will begin with the staff, having them provide proof of vaccination or their Excelsior Pass to get an accurate count on the unvaccinated and the logistics of how many need to be tested on a weekly basis. Once the district is comfortable with the testing process, information and parental consent forms will be shared with parents. School nurses will also have PCR tests for symptomatic students, also requiring parental consent; within 24 hours students will be notified of their PCR test results. 

“Stay Open Plan” Updates 

Updates to the districts “Stay Open Plan” were also announced at the most recent Board of Education meeting. 

Approximately 6,000 students are attending classes in-person again throughout the district. Since the first day of school, there have been 21 confirmed positive COVID cases between students and adults; 9 in elementary, 11 in middle school, and 1 in the high school. Currently, 101 students are on mandatory quarantine by Saratoga County. The school is required to report the following key indicators to the county for contract tracing: consistency of mask use, social distancing and time of association, and vaccination status of those 12 years and older. The county, not the school district, determines who quarantines and for what length of time. 

The academic plan in place is PIVOT. PIVOT is for classes, grade levels, or the entire school to transition to temporary online learning. Students will Zoom in daily for live instruction, following their normal daily schedule. Teachers should have already shared procedures with grades K-12, with additional information regarding study halls and flex to be announced. Attendance will be taken and Zoom links can be found on Seesaw for grades K-5 and Canvas for grades 6-12. 

Looking ahead, an enhanced quarantine support plan will also be implemented beginning the week of Sept. 20 for 6th graders and in October for everyone else. This enhanced online support is for individual students under a longer quarantine period; a longer quarantine consists of three or more days. This is the information available as of Sept. 21: 

Students and parents will access work and communicate with teachers using Seesaw and Canvas. Teachers will do live check-ins with students under these longer quarantines. Additionally, their online classes will be structured on a set schedule 1-2 hours per class depending on grade level band with a New York State Certified Educator approved by NYSED for live instructional online support. All of which is coordinated by the school district. If a student needs a device, please contact the school’s main office. Students should access their teachers during daily flex time upon returning from quarantine for additional help. 

“Since March of 2020, we learned that students need more live instruction, access to technology, and also alternatives, set schedules and expectations, relationships with peers and adults are even more important, and that we need to do a better job as a district communicating and using communication tools,” said Lisa Cutting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment.

Capital Project Updates 

Phase 1 of the Legacy Project is complete, and the district is now looking to move on to Phase 2. The Legacy Project includes enhancing security with a new visitor management system, security cameras, etc., as well as other building improvements and energy efficiencies. The bid was this fall (Fall 2021), and estimated completion is Sept. 2023. 

The specific Dorothy Nolan/Greenfield/ Transportation projects include a secure entrance vestibule, cafeteria upgrades, and replacements in the transportation building. The bid for these projects is Fall 2022 with an estimated completion by Summer 2023/2024. 

The bid for projects in the high school will also be in Fall 2022 with an estimated completion in Summer 2025. This includes a renovated dining hall, upgrading from a serving line to scattered food court stations with a variety of counter, group, and booth seating, as well as a renovated fitness center, with the current weight room being converted to a wellness center. 

Now that the district is coming out of Phase 1, the bidding process, they will proceed into the design review and construction phases. Members of the district will be updated on the progress of Phases 2 and 3 in future board meetings.

Thursday, 05 August 2021 16:45

Team USA Lax Visits Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Team USA Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse geared up in their red, white, and blue to practice in Saratoga this past week. 

The Saratoga Youth Lacrosse Association hosted the teams at their lacrosse complex for practices on Aug. 2, 3, and 4 in preparation for their exhibition games in Lake Placid on Aug. 3. 

These practices and exhibition games, as Skip Lichtfuss, Director of National Teams & High Performance for USA Lacrosse, explained, also served as an “exploration tryout camp” for the national team. The United States will field both a men’s and women’s national team at the 2022 World Games, a multi-sport Olympic-style event, in Birmingham, AL next summer. 

These practices in Saratoga were the first co-training sessions with both the men’s and women’s teams on the same field at the same time, as they are adapting to the new “sixes” style of play. 

“Sixes” is fast-paced version of lacrosse played with fewer players (6 v. 6) on a smaller field (70 x 36 meters), and a condensed game length (four 8-minute quarters). This is the style of lacrosse that will be played at the 2022 World Games. Lichtfuss compared the adoption of the new style of lacrosse to the addition of 3 v. 3 basketball in the Olympics and rugby 7’s; it will keep the rules of the game consistent across the men’s and women’s teams and the style of lacrosse consistent across countries. 

“It will allow for a better showing of the sport,” said Lichtfuss. Adding that the new style and these practices are a “great way to expose younger players to lacrosse.”

Some players on the team are collegiate-level athletes and some are pros in the PLL (Premier Lacrosse League). They come from across the United States to play on the teams, but one player in particular got the chance to return to her hometown. 

Amy Moreau, who sported #43, is a rising senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated from Schuylerville High School in 2018. She grew up playing on the fields at the Saratoga Youth Lacrosse Association complex and has now come full circle to practice there as a part of Team USA. 

“Coming back here to play with USA across my chest has been a surreal experience,” said Moreau.

The Saratoga Youth Lacrosse Association is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides Saratoga’s youth with an opportunity to play one of the fastest growing sports – lacrosse. To learn more about USA Lacrosse visit usalacrosse.org.

Thursday, 05 August 2021 16:43

Cub Scouts Bike Rodeo

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Cub Scout packs held a bike rodeo this past weekend, where the kids learned about bike safety from local law enforcement. 

On Saturday, July 31 Cub Scout Packs 12 and 16 held a joint bike rodeo at the American Legion on West Avenue. Kids completed a bike safety course, and then received a bike safety talk from officers with the Saratoga Springs Police Department. It was also a recruiting event for aspiring girl and boy scouts. 

The course consisted of weaving and maneuvering, short radius turning, speed control, changing direction, changing lanes, mounting and dismounting, and more, with the older Boy Scouts in attendance as the designated pit crew. 

“If they grow up knowing how to be safe on a bicycle, then they will know to be safe when driving a car,” said John E. Koch, Cub Scouts Unit Commissioner, about what the kids were learning during bike safety day. 

In the bike safety talk the scouts and aspiring scouts learned important tips on how to wear a helmet properly, how to adjust their bike, and more. Sergeant Evan Fort and Officer Glenn Barrett with the Saratoga Springs Police Department and Deputies Jared Gardner and Nick Hess with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office spent some time riding around on their bikes with the kids afterwards.

 “We use bikes for public relations, getting out into the community more,” said Officer Barrett. “Patrolling on bikes and on bike paths lets us interact on a different level. If you ever see us out, stop and say hello.”

Thursday, 22 July 2021 15:29

10th Annual Fallen Officers Memorial Ride

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Blue Friday of New York will hold its 10th Annual Fallen Officers Memorial Ride on Saturday, Aug. 7.

This year’s 75-mile ride will honor two fallen officers – Detective Sergeant Randall French, Special Operations Section of the Troy Police Department and Corrections Officer Joseph A. Martini, Ulster County Sheriff’s Department.

The ride goes through five counties, starting at Spitzie’s on Central Avenue in Colonie. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and kickstands will go up at Noon. It is $20 per bike and passenger, all vehicles are welcome. 

Additionally, at Nanola on Route 9 in Malta, there will be food and drink available for purchase, a 50/50 drawing, and raffles, and a stop at Adirondack Harley-Davidson in Broadalbin. 

Awards will be given for Best Represented Blue Knights Chapter, Best Represented Police Motor Unit, and Best Represented Motorcycle Club. 

Warren County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, Amsterdam Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will all aid in escorting the ride. 

About Blue Friday

Blue Friday of New York, Inc. was formed in the Capital District in 2004 after two police officers in Albany and Schenectady lost their lives within a short span of time. Pat Fox, an Albany Police Officer at the time, started Blue Friday as a chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) after speaking to fellow police officers and other police unions, determining there was support and a need for this type of organization. 

Their Mission Statement reads that Blue Friday of New York was “established to help assist the families of law enforcement officers who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty as well as the families of officers who have died outside the line of duty if needed. Our goal is to make sure the family knows that ‘They are not forgotten and they will never stand alone’.” 

Blue Friday also provides the following resources: survivor victimization issues and grief counseling, assisting families attending the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C., assisting law enforcement agencies or families in the paperwork process for a line of duty death, and training representatives of different law enforcement agencies on how to cope with and how to apply for the benefits for a line of duty death.

The last Friday in April is considered to be Blue Friday; a day set by the New York State Legislature each year to honor all law enforcement officers – those who have been killed in the line of duty and those still protecting and serving. 

If you are interested in starting a Blue Friday event in your community or are interested in finding out more about the organization, visit Blue Friday of New York’s website, www.bluefridayny.org, or check out their Facebook page.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has introduced new tours and events for the summer racing season. This will be the first summer track season at Saratoga that the Museum and Hall of Fame is open, following recent renovations.

The Museum and Hall of Fame opened back up on Sept. 5, 2020. Included in the renovations was digitalizing the Hall of Fame. Jockeys and trainers have long careers, and according to Cate Masterson, Director of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, not only has digitalizing the Hall of Fame allowed them to save space for future members, but it is easier to update the accomplishments of said jockeys and trainers. 

Some other notable things the Museum has to offer this summer are as follows: 

Tom Durkin, legendary track announcer, will be giving guided museum tours Wednesday and Sundays through Sept. 6, and Oklahoma Training Track tours will also be offered through Sept. 

Author signings will include Bill Heller signing copies of “Fred Hopper: The Extraordinary Life of a Thoroughbred Legend” on Friday, July 23 from 10 a.m. to Noon, and Lenny Shulman signing copies of “Head to Head: Conversations With a Generation of Horse Racing Legends on Friday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to Noon. Both books will be available for purchase in the Museum’s gift shop. 

For its summer film schedule, the Museum’s new signature film, What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame, will be shown eight times daily at half past the hour beginning at 9:30 a.m. with a final showing at 4:30 p.m. 

Upcoming this summer also, is the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame induction ceremony that will be open to the public and free to attend. The ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 6 at Fasig-Tipton. Seats are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m., and the ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. It will also be livestreamed on the Museum’s website. 

“The Museum would like to thank Fasig-Tipton for their longtime support and use of their beautiful facility for the Hall of Fame ceremony, especially as they celebrate their 100th year of the Saratoga Sale this summer,” said Masterson. “It’s a special place to host such an important event as the Hall of Fame ceremony. We are really looking forward to honoring the 2020 and 2021 inductees on Aug. 6.”

This induction ceremony will honor both the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame classes. The 2020 inductees include racehorses Tom Bowling and Wise Dan; jockey Darrel McHargue; trainer Mark Casse; and Pillars of the Turf Alice Headley Chandler, J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., and George D. Widener, Jr. The 2021 class is comprised of racehorse American Pharaoh, and trainer Jack Fisher and Todd Pletcher. 

Reservations are required and space is limited for tours. To book tours and for more information regarding these special events, contact the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at 518-584-0400 or visit their website at www.racingmuseum.org. 

Thursday, 22 July 2021 14:05

Celebrate Saratoga Window Winners

1st Place: Lifestyles of Saratoga - Lifestyles' “Queen of Saratoga” themed window honors Marylou Whitney.
2nd Place: Tailgate and Party - Street mural depicting a bright scene of galloping horses and jockeys inspired by the Saratoga Race Course.
3rd Place: G. Willikers - "And they're at the gate..." Playful display of toy horses "at the gate."

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Downtown Saratoga welcomed racing fans back to the city with a creative racing-themed contest for local business owners – and the results are in.

The Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association has recognized the winners of the Celebrate Saratoga window decorating contest, sponsored by NYRA. Participating local businesses in downtown Saratoga decorated their storefronts in a racing theme for the contest. 

“The collaboration between the Downtown Business Association and NYRA represents the community collaboration that is so important in a city like ours,” said Heidi Owen-West, Vice President of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association. 

The decorations were judged on July 14 by volunteer judges Liz Bishop, Walt Adams, and Tom Durkin. The winners were announced during opening weekend at the track, on Saturday, July 17, in the winner’s circle. 

First place went to Lifestyles of Saratoga, who won two tickets to the Rail at 1863 club, including buffet and lunch. Second place went to Tailgate and Party, who won two Clubhouse Reserved Seats. And, third place went to G. Willikers, who won two Grandstand Reserved Seats. 

Owen-West, who is also the owner of Lifestyles of Saratoga, and her team decorated their storefront as a tribute to Marylou Whitney. There was no racing season in 2020, following her passing in 2019, and so Owen-West and her team came up with the idea to honor her.

“It feels great winning, but most important were the comments,” said Owen-West. “People have walked in and choked up with tears and thanked us for our tribute to Marylou Whitney. It really feels like Saratoga is back and racing again.”

Other participating downtown locations included: Celtic Treasures, Complexions Spa, Crafters Gallery, Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs. Impressions of Saratoga, Saratoga Dance, Saratoga National Bank, Saratoga Saddlery, Saratoga Tea and Honey, Spoken Boutique, The Dark Horse Mercantile, and Walt and Whitman Brewing. 

Congrats to this week’s Athletes of the Week – Hannah Barber, Caroline Maloney, and Akhila Venkat!

Hannah Barber

Hannah is from Saratoga Springs and is in 6th grade. Hannah has been dancing since she could walk, and has been formally enrolled in dance for eight years. 

Hannah has been with her amazing ballet instructors at Saratoga Springs Youth Ballet for over four years, and has continued learning virtually from them. She has performed with the New York City Ballet at SPAC in Coppélia in June 2019. She auditioned and was selected again in 2020 to perform in Swan Lake prior to the COVID-19 cancellation of the performance. Hannah’s dream to perform as Clara in The Nutcracker came true in 2019. 

She has found a silver lining during this pandemic, and has had the opportunity to learn ballet virtually each week from former and current members of the New York City Ballet. She was accepted into ballet summer intensives for 2021 at the School of American Ballet Young Dancer Program, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Academy East and NYSSA. 

Hannah is also a great student, having made high honor roll for all three quarters. She works hard to achieve her big dreams, and hopes to one day dance at Lincoln Center as a member of the New York City Ballet. 

Caroline Maloney

Caroline is from Wilton. She is 12 years old and in the 7th grade in the South Glens Falls CSD.

Caroline started taking ballet classes at age 7. She performed in the NYCB Coppélia in 2019, and was chosen as an understudy as a gesture for Swan Lake in 2020, although it was cancelled due to COVID. She will be attending the NYSSSA ballet this summer, and was also accepted to the Ballet Academy East’s summer program in the advanced level. 

During the stay-at-home directive, Caroline spent countless hours working hard at ballet and taking virtual classes, including attending five weeks of Ballet Academy East and periodically taking zoom classes with Dena Abergel, Children’s Ballet Master of NYCB.

She also takes her academics very seriously, and has been a high honors student throughout middle school. She also plays violin in the middle school orchestra and is in the school chorus. 

Caroline aspires to be a professional ballet dancer and looks up to her dance teachers – Cristiane Santos, Joan K. Anderson, and Lisa McBride. It has meant so much to her that her teachers formed SSYB, which is where she always wants to be with her dance family. 

Akhila Venkat

Akhila is a 10th grader at Shenendehowa high school. She fell in love with ballet when she took her first lessons at Austin City Ballet when she was four. She enjoyed the opportunity to perform with the NYCB at SPAC. 

When she is not dancing, Akhila loves being outdoors, skiing in the winters and biking in the summers. To de-stress she watches videos and plays the piano. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ms. Michelle Tsao, Principal of Saratoga Springs High School, announces that Jason Zheng has been named Valedictorian of the Class of 2021 and that Julian Silva-Forbes has been named Salutatorian of the Class of 2021 at Saratoga Springs High School. 

Jason Zheng
Jason Zheng, son of Dun Ming and Mei Zheng of Saratoga Springs, will attend Yale University, and plans to pursue a career as a physician. 

Julian Silva-Forbes 
Julian Silva-Forbes, son of Keith and Sonia Silva of Saratoga Springs, will attend Columbia University and pursue a career in the media industry as a journalist or screenwriter. 

Kara Hausam
Kara Hausam will attend Northeastern University and major in chemistry.

Raquel Cohen
Raquel Cohen will attend Boston College and plans to become a doctor.

Jonathan D’Alonzo
Jonathan D’Alonzo will attend the University of Notre Dame and plans to become a doctor.

Devon “Kale” Kimble-Lee
Devon “Kale” Kimble-Lee will attend Lesley College and plans to pursue a career in art illustration and secondarily as an art teacher.

Kai Farr
Kai Farr will attend Boston University and plans to pursue a career as a film director.

Ava Herzog
Ava Herzog will attend RPI’s 7-year Accelerated Medical Program with Albany Medical College and plans to become a physician-scientist.

Jane Ginley
Jane Ginley will attend Boston College, where she was one of only 25 students selected to be part of its inaugural Human-Centered Engineering program.

Cristina DeMeo 
Cristina DeMeo will attend Harvard University and plans to become a doctor.

Tyler Munter 
Tyler Munter will attend Northeastern University and plans to pursue a career in Engineering.

Cole Zeh
Cole Zeh will attend Colgate University with a premedical path and plans to become a surgeon.

Last Year of Academic Recognition

Saratoga Springs High School has also announced that beginning with the Class of 2022, they will no longer be reporting the top students of the class, including a valedictorian and a salutatorian. They will start using only an unweighted Grade Point Average (GPA).

This decision was made by the Building Leadership Team (BLT), which is comprised of  members in the school district: students, teachers, parents, school counselors, support staff, and building administration. The BLT presented this to the Board of Education in July 2019, and it was communicated to families the following month. The team used research from college admissions counselors, national organizations, the SSHS Graduation Committee, and other local high schools to form their decision. Student Council received input and feedback from the student body. 

Student Council received input that if a weighted GPA is removed, so should the top rank, as the top rank creates division, anxiety and separation among peers.

The switch to use only the unweighted GPA was made because the BLT believes that the dual GPA system is not only confusing, but inconsistent when used to determine scholarships, merit awards, and rank. Therefore, they will no longer be reporting class rank on a student’s transcript. 

The BLT believes that their decision will impact the school culture by fostering an environment in which students will place more importance on learning and personalizing their schedules. With the weighted GPA system, students are more likely to prioritize their grades over their interests, passions, and academically challenging themselves. College admissions counselors have reported they like to see students taking courses that are challenging, yet appropriate, for their
academic interests. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Sylvie Waters, scholar-athlete and 2020 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School, is now playing lacrosse at the collegiate level for Boston University. 

Sylvie’s sport has been lacrosse from a young age. She started playing on the club ADK Lacrosse team (a team made up of girls from all over the 518 area) in fifth grade. She continued to play for that team right through her senior year of high school, simultaneously being a three-year starter on the Saratoga Springs High School Varsity Girls’ Lacrosse Team. She also competed in tennis and did alpine skiing. 

Throughout her high school career, Sylvie was also able to dedicate time to her schoolwork. Some of her accolades, as listed on her bio on the Boston University Athletics website (goterriers.com) include: Student-Athlete Leadership Team member, National Honor Society, Scholastic Council Leadership Summit attendee, and NYSPHAA Scholar-Athlete. 

Some of her high school athletic accomplishments include being a two-time US Lacrosse School Girls team member, Under Armour All-American Team, and Northstar Invitational Leadership award recipient.   

Then, she was recruited by Head Coach Lauren Morton for Boston University. 

“I was being recruited by Boston University, and a month later I was on their campus getting a tour,” said Sylvie. “I was comparing all my other college visits to Boston University.”

Originally, Sylvie was being recruited by Coach Morton for Duke University, where she was the head coach of the women’s lacrosse program there until 2018. 

Now, Sylvie is an attacker on the Boston University Women’s Lacrosse Team, and one of nine freshmen. She got her first minutes of playing time in their game against Lafyette on Easter Sunday. It was her first time on the field since COVID took away her senior season, and since she had hip surgery in May. 

Sylvie plans to major in journalism and minor in business. She says that her transition from high school to college, not just in sports, but in general, was facilitated by the connections she made at Saratoga Springs High School. She recounted meeting people at college who knew people from her high school, and said that going to a big school really prepared her for a big university.

To any high school athlete looking to go on and play sports in college, she gives this advice: 

“Keep working hard, and advocate for yourself. When the time is right it will happen, just keep being true to yourself.”

Thursday, 08 April 2021 14:08

Erik Gottmann: Athlete of the Week

Congrats to this week’s Athlete of the Week – Erik Gottmann!

Erik is a senior at Ballston Spa High School. He will have four varsity letters this year, starting with the ski team. The ski team’s season finished just in time for him to join the wrestling team, a sport he hadn’t competed in since eighth grade. Erik came away from this year’s wrestling season with eight wins and only one loss. He is currently playing on the football team, and will finish his high school sports career at Ballston Spa with lacrosse at the end of the school year. 

Erik has accomplished all of this while maintaining a 95 GPA. He just received a four-year full-tuition Army ROTC scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute, where he will continue playing lacrosse at the Division I level. 

Page 4 of 6