Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.Superintendent of SchoolsLancaster Central School District177 Central AvenueLancaster, NY 14086District Clerk/Secretary:Sandra Janik716-686-3201
Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends...Our goal since the beginning of the year has been to maximize student learning and the overall student experience. The former has been and is being accomplished by the hard work of our students, teachers, families, staff, and administration. Thank you. In Lancaster, we believe the latter, the student experience, is equally as important. We pride ourselves in offering opportunities, activities, programs, and events that all of our nearly 6,000 students can participate in. This year, despite the challenges facing our faculty, staff, students, and families, has been no different.
As in years past, one theme continues to resonate -- the importance of the student experience and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Last summer and in the beginning of this school year, that vital part of K-12 education in Lancaster was in jeopardy as we were unsure about whether musical performances, club participation, sporting events, and holiday celebrations would occur at all. As always, the students, families, faculty, and staff stepped up. Through their hard work, dedication, innovation, and passion, the students of Lancaster have conducted performances, participated in clubs and organizations, competed on the field (court, ice, lanes), and celebrated holidays.
Lancaster student-athletes strive for excellence in and out of the classroom. Our winter sports teams just concluded their abbreviated seasons and, for the first time in school history, the Lancaster Boys Varsity Ice Hockey team won the Section VI Championship. In their senior spotlight, many of the players did not focus on wins or awards as their favorite memory. Most of the boys said they will remember the experiences with their teammates such as having fun and hanging out with friends in the locker room. Senior Jonah Ahrens said it best, “Finding out that I was going to get one more season with my teammates.”
In addition to our athletics programs, many of our clubs and organizations have continued through persistence and innovation. Each year, the Lancaster High School Model United Nations (UN) Club participates in several competitions to simulate the UN General Assembly and allow students to perform as ambassadors tackling some of the major topics facing our world leaders today. The Lancaster Model UN Club participated in its second virtual competition held by St. Bonaventure University. Our students represented Lancaster well and earned multiple awards as individuals, which culminated in a first-place award for the school.
Our students who participated will certainly remember the preparation and hard work that helped them earn success. In addition to their excellence displayed, our students will remember the collaborative environment of the event, confidence gained through arguing a perspective, and the relationships formed with students from other schools.
During a typical school year, our teachers create engaging and hands-on activities that allow students to flourish as learners while impacting them for years to come. The extraordinary teachers of Lancaster have tapped into their innovative skills and collaboration to overcome some of this year’s challenges. Two second-grade teachers at Hillview Elementary and Como Park Elementary utilized Google Meet to provide their students an opportunity to collaborate on an egg drop STEAM challenge. Students from both classes were tasked with creating a container that would not only safely hold an egg, but also protect it from breaking when it was dropped from a five-foot height. Students “met” virtually through Google Meet and took turns sharing their designs with the classes. Then, the students competed as each individual dropped their egg in the designed container with a real egg. They all enjoyed having an opportunity to interact with students not only from another class, but from another school. Some students enjoyed the activity and competition so much, they recreated the activity with their families over spring break.
Some of our Court Street teachers have started an “Adopt-a-Desk-Puppy Program” for our smallest students. Students who effectively complete their daily writing assignments have an opportunity to “adopt a stuffed puppy.” Students are allowed to keep their “puppies” in class and they will take them home in June. One of the teachers noted students will sometimes hug their puppies while she is teaching. Students love their “pets” as they provide some company while students are at their desks.
Students at John A. Sciole Elementary have started a Tournament of Books, which will become a new tradition. I’ve only highlighted a few examples, but could go on and on with extravagant virtual musical performances, athletic events that are live-streamed, service projects to benefit families in need, and fundraisers that have all continued because of our students, families, faculty, and staff. The list is long, but the theme remains the same. In short, just like in years past, our students have created memories!
Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.