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“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love,” wrote Hamilton Wright Mabie. In Lancaster, we have more than 6,000 co-conspirators who spread good cheer through countless deeds and gestures. Time-honored traditions make the holidays special and memorable, not only for our administration, faculty, staff, and students, but for the local and global community as well.
In my years as superintendent, and a member of this community, one of the favorite traditions that I have come to love, one that fills my heart with the greatest sense of pride in being the leader of this outstanding school district, is the annual Day of Giving at the Lancaster Youth Bureau. This year more than 125 of our community’s most deserving families had their holiday wishes granted with bags of groceries, hats, scarves, mittens, gifts, trees complete with decorations, books, and heartfelt good tidings gathered from around the district.
So many people take part in this rich tradition of giving, including students and food service workers who bake more than 400 dozen cookies; children from all grade levels, including those from William Street, the middle school, and the high school all converged on the Youth Bureau on December 18 to assist faculty and staff volunteers with wrapping, sorting, and distributing all the treasures. It truly is a sight to behold and carry in our hearts.
The generosity of Lancaster’s school “family” is not limited to the boundaries of our school district alone. For example, elementary students and their high school reading buddies donated $5000 to veteran’s causes through a fundraiser called “Cozy for Christmas.” In addition, Hillview's Good Citizens' Club donated and boxed gifts for the global project, "Operation Christmas Child," which benefits children in Third World countries.
This month, students at every level have been spreading holiday cheer at chorus and band concerts. Our students put on impressive displays of their skills and dedication each time they take the stage. However, the best performances are for those in the community. From nursing homes, to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, to an annual group home social, our students not only practice their instruments but also practice good citizenship, one of the core values of our mission statement.
The holiday season lingers into the new year and brings with it the opportunity for new beginnings. Who hasn’t made a New Year’s resolution…perhaps to be kinder, more generous, more patient, to work on personal fitness or health goals? Just about the time when New Year’s resolutions are getting ready to be packed away with ornaments, ribbons, cards, and bows, we in Lancaster schools begin to celebrate what, over the years, has blossomed into our ‘Month of Kindness,’ in February.
This event has grown in size and scope throughout the last five years and has become one of the distinguishing characteristics of our school district, culminating with a district-wide Day of Kindness and Family Fun Night in the Russell J. Salvatore Fieldhouse. Lest the glow of the holidays begins to flicker, our Month of Kindness reminds everyone to take pause and carry out even the simplest Random Acts of Kindness (#RAOK) to more extensive service projects for nursing homes, hospitals, food banks, group homes, and more. We feel that this five-year tradition has had a significant impact on the culture and climate in our schools.
In short, giving and saying thanks are what this season is all about. With that, on behalf of the board of education, administration, faculty, support staff, and students, I would like to thank you for your vote to ensure our facilities remain safe and sound; enabling us to make improvements that keep pace with changing instructional needs, and to utilize the space that we have in the students’ best interests. Thank you for the overwhelming support of our 2018 capital project on December 11.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Young + Wright Architectural recently received an award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in the category of commercial/institutional project, as the 2018 Best in Category for Western New York. The LCSD transportation facility, located at 4082 Walden Avenue, is a fine example of the work being performed by Young + Wright and Buffalo Construction, on behalf of this school district and community and we look forward to our continuing partnership throughout recently-approved capital campaign.
As we transition from one year to the next, and while your families are together over the holidays, may you experience a sense of peace, joy, and happiness nestled in one of the most caring, compassionate communities in Western New York!
Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.
One of only four in the nation