Onteora School District briefs (11/3/21)

A Phoenicia Elementary School student in Carly Hull’s Grade 2/3 class asks a question during a “Community Weeks” presentation by Onteora School Resource Officer (SRO) Tom Sharon (left) and Officer George Neher of the Shandaken Police.

Phoenicia students learn about community-building

Students in Phoenicia Elementary School teacher Carly Hull’s Grade 2/3 class recently welcomed two special visitors from the local community: Onteora school resource officer (SRO) Thomas Sharon and officer George Neher of the Shandaken Police. The officers were among the guests invited by Hull to help her class celebrate “Community Weeks,” which took place in her classroom from October 11 to 30. “Our other guests have included members of the US military and members of our local Fire Department,” Hull reported.

Describing his recent visit, Deputy Sharon said, “I was invited to share with the class what a police officer’s job is and to show off our cars and equipment.” The students, who listened intently to both officers, were thrilled to sit in a patrol car and to try on a police vest.


In the coming weeks, Hull’s students will learn about the differences among rural, urban and suburban communities. “It is important to me that my students understand the communities in which they live, but also understand the function of communities and the importance of all community members,” she said. “Giving them opportunities to interact with members of our local community, such as Deputy Sharon, inspires, motivates and educates my students in a hands-on way. It is much more than trying on a vest or sounding the siren.”

Another important component to Community Weeks, Hull explained, involves building community within the school building, as well as within the classroom. The District’s Social and Emotional Curriculum encourages “community circles,” she said, in which every student is included as a valued participant. “During this tremendously difficult time of education, it is important to me that my students feel connected to their classmates, their school community, and ultimately the community in which they reside,” she explained.

Onteora students hold COVID-19 information session

The Onteora High School student government hosted a refresher session to clear up concerns from students about confusing and conflicting COVID-19 protocol information, addressing a matter that was recently brought to the attention of the Board of Education.

“So we decided to host a 15 minute-refresher yesterday, Wednesday (October 27) during high school lunches,” student government President Jakson Spiotta told the board at its October 28 meeting.

“They were about 15 minutes long and they consisted of members of student government and (high school principal) Mr. Edelman and our nurse Sabrina Blakely. They a led discussion on protocols, the quarantine process and addressed questions that any students had. And in my opinion it went very well.”

COVID testing plan underway

The district is working with Neil Smoller, owner of Village Apothecary in Woodstock, to provide voluntary COVID-19 testing for students. Notices were sent to parents allowing them to opt in to have their children tested weekly, biweekly or monthly.

“To date we’ve received 125 responses indicating 80 students that they would like to have screened,” Interim Superintendent Marystephanie Corsones said.

Officials are coordinating with Smoller, district medical director Suellen Elmendorf and Deputy County Executive Marc Rider to come up with a testing plan, Corsones said. “It appears that we will probably be using a combination of the Village Apothecary staff as well as our nursing staff to actually do the student testing.”

Picnic tables ordered for outdoor lunch

The district has ordered picnic tables for the elementary schools, addressing concerns the students did not have outdoor options for lunch in the warmer weather, especially since distancing for COVID-19 is an issue.

“Woodstock, I believe that they had room for eight, so eight have been ordered for Woodstock. Ten for Phoenicia and six for Bennett,” Interim Superintendent Marystephanie Corsones said.
She noted the tables need to be assembled once they arrive.