MAYVILLE - With the final day of school fast approaching, area school districts recognized the best and the brightest that are moving on - either to graduation or to retirement.
Thursday night, the Mayville Suites and Expo Center was taken over by the Chautauqua County School Boards Association for its annual honors night. The night was to recognize honors students from 19 area school districts, as well as present scholarships, recognize those that are retiring and hand out other awards.
"The best and the brightest were honored tonight. As we sit here and listen to the honors that they have accomplished, and where they are going, from biotechnology to veterinary school, it's a wow factor for me, personally. It's extremely important, I think, that we honor the best and brightest," said Ray Fashano, executive director of CCSBA.
Students, their families, district superintendents, school board members and principals were invited to Thursday's event. In all, 44 students received recognition.
Additionally, Frewsburg Central School District provided entertainment for the evening. Seventh-grade student Olivia Sposato sang "Temporary Home," by Carrie Underwood. Alec Emley, junior a Frewsburg, performed the "Evolution of Dance" for the crowd. And, P. Damon Bouge literally lit up the stage with a fiery Poi Spinning performance.
Following dinner, Rita Lashway, deputy executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, spoke before Fashano and Christine Schnars, CCSBA president, presented the honors students with their awards.
"One of the things I would like you to leave with is knowing how proud NYSSBA is of all of you. These students here tonight are really a testimony to work that everybody has done and continues to do every day. This dedication, perseverance and spirit obviously is what makes all of you such a success as you contribute to education in your communities," Ms. Lashway said.
Each student had the opportunity to share the activities that they have participated in throughout their high school career, as well as their future plans.
Honors Students that received recognition were Hunter Jones and Jake Prindle from Bemus Point; Olivia Kaltenbach and Brianna Stanton from Brocton; Stephen Seibert and Thomas Wissman from Cassadaga Valley; Jessica Fortney and Rebecca Silliman from Chautauqua Lake; Kaeli Einink and Randall Farber from Clymer; Katherine Carr and Samantha Saye from Dunkirk; Jessica Bessette from E2CC BOCES, LoGuidice campus; Alec Skinner from E2CC BOCES, Hewes campus; Collin Everett and Shannon Murphy from Falconer; Joseph Caccamise and Katherine Fickelscherer from Forestville; Michael Hawk and Noah Rankin from Fredonia; Amanda Moon and Brianna Nelson from Frewsburg; Mark Brombacher and Haley Kulakowski from Jamestown; Andrea Marsh and Dylan Stow from Panama; Jacob Kohler and Kaylee Mathews from Pine Valley; Samantha Gardner and Zachary Mota from Ripley; David Kelley and Micaela Young from Sherman; Kyle Karlstrom and Catherine Wielgasz from Silver Creek; Andrew Blasius and Claire Webster from Southwestern; and Alec Freyn and Joseph Marshall from Westfield.
Dennis Hefner, who will be retiring as president of Fredonia State University in July, received the Honored Friend of Education award.
"I want to thank you for this wonderful award, but I also want to take a second to congratulate all of the honors students tonight. Being a valedictorian or salutatorian, you have obviously been working very hard, and that work ethic is going to serve you very well as you go on to college and beyond that, as you go into your chosen careers," Hefner said, before congratulating the parents as well.
School board members that are leaving service were also recognized Thursday night. Those that are leaving are Thom Shagla from Bemus Point, who served 12 years; Camile Belcher from Brocton who served 15 years; Bridget Majka from Dunkirk, who served six years; Gary Pignataro from Dunkirk, who served four years; Susan Russo from E2CC BOCES, who served 22 years; Ron Ball from Falconer, who served 15 years; Mary Kordon from Forestville, who served eight years; Adrian Szumigala from Forestville, who served eight years and Lynne Gruel from Southwestern, who served nine months.
Superintendents that are retiring are Robert S. Guiffreda from E2CC Boces, who served five years, and Thomas Schmidt from Sherman, who served six years.
Christine Schnars was awarded the Board Member of the Year award.
"I appreciate this so much from all of you, but the reason I appreciate it is because it really goes to every board member in this room. There is not a board member here who hasn't gone through the same trials and tribulations that I have. There isn't a board member here that is in this for themselves, they are here for everyone. And, there isn't a board member here who doesn't value education. So, I will gratefully accept this, but only on behalf of every board member here tonight," Mrs. Schnars said.
Eight students each received $1,000 scholarships from the Far West Council of School Superintendents. They were Kelsey Neckers from Clymer; Katherine Carr from Dunkirk; Megan MacDonald and Sarah Spangenburg from Falconer; Alexander Crise and Sean Pecuch from Fredonia; Robert Newell from Southwestern; and Alec Freyn from Westfield.