Happy New Year!
As we say goodbye to 2022 and welcome 2023, I encourage you all to sit down with your child/ren and reflect on the first half of the school year. Self-reflection is a powerful way to enhance a student's overall learning experience. It plays an important role in teaching children to be aware of not just what to learn, but also how they learn best, and what they can do to improve their learning outcomes.
We are immensely proud of all that our diverse group of approximately 1,700 students has achieved during the first half of the 2022-23 school year. Most recently, four students in our Middle and High Schools received awards from our local VFW for their carefully researched and written essays focusing on the importance of veterans. Keep reading below to learn more about them, and what they wrote about.
As part of your reflective conversation with your child, it is important to include a look ahead as the second half of the year promises to fly by just as quickly as the first half! I encourage you to include in your conversation what they would like to accomplish over the next six months as together you develop reachable, yet challenging goals. This can and should look different for each student, which exemplifies the depth of the diverse interests and passions of our student body. By setting and then monitoring goals, we have found that students more readily focus their time, energy and attention, which can also lead to increased motivation.
As always, our staff is committed to the success of all our students and are available to help identify where goal setting can be most effective for your child’s individual needs. If you have any questions in relation to maximizing your child’s success, you can always reach out to our teachers, counselors and administrators. We have updated our Contact Guide, which gives you step-by-step instructions on who to contact regarding questions and/or concerns that may arise in any and all areas. Following this guide will ensure that you receive the answers you need from the right person in the most timely manner. Our collective goal is to maintain a solid partnership with you, providing everything necessary to guide your child through the rest of the year.
The strong and collaborative partnership between school and home is essential, and we remain committed to supporting each and every student with whatever they need to reach their full potential this school year. Again, I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful New Year!
Keep reading to see how you can help our Rider families in need, and how we can continue to come together to keep our staff and students healthy during the winter months.
I look forward to all that the new year brings!
Also in this issue:
New Hire Spotlight featuring our Operational Staff
Wall of Fame is accepting nominations
New federal subsidy available for internet costs
#ICYMI: December events
ICC students awarded for their essays about veterans
Congratulations to ICC High Schoolers Olivia Gibeault and Finley Waits; and Middle Schoolers Genevieve Kuhnen and Brayden Johnson!
All four received awards from the local VFW for essays they wrote about veterans. They received their awards recently at a ceremony at the High School. For the essay contests, the High Schoolers had to answer the question: "Why is the Veteran Important?" and the Middle Schoolers had to use this prompt, "My Pledge to Our Veterans” to complete their essays.
In the High School competition, Olivia placed first and was awarded $200; and Finley placed second and earned $100.
“Olivia and Finley wrote fantastic essays that stressed the importance of the role of veterans in our society today,” said Patrick Sanger, HS social studies department head. “These two young women showed incredible perspective on this topic that showed how personal and how important it was to them. I'm so proud to see them win the ‘Voice of Democracy’ contest because they are both so deserving.”
In the Middle School competition, Genevieve placed first, and Brayden was awarded second place. Genevieve received $100, and Brayden, $50, for their exceptional work.
"A large part of our curriculum includes our civic responsibilities and I am thrilled that our students recognize the importance of having Americans serve in the military to protect our democracy and the rights that we are innately born with,” said Lara Marotta, MS social studies teacher. “Genevieve and Brayden are hardworking 7th graders and their essays show the value that our veterans have on the world we live in. I am so proud of them!”
Melissa Heusdens, the Junior Vice Commander of Stuyvesant Falls VFW Post 9593, was the head of the committee that judged the essays and awarded the scholarships. Five VFW members, who made up the committee, including the commander, spoke incredibly well about the students’ essays at the ceremony.
Our new Operational Staff
These staffers joined ICC at the beginning of the year,
and we wanted to extend another welcome to them, as well as introduce them to you!
Heather Park joined the Food Services team this year, working in the High School cafeteria. Her mother also works for ICC in the Transportation and Food Services departments. Heather graduated from ICC in 2011, and is elated to be back at her alma mater. I love it so much, I love working here. She lives in Stuyvesant Falls with her husband and three daughters, who are 3, 4 and 10. Two attend the Primary School, and the youngest will go to the PS after pre-K. Heather was a stay-at-home mom, so when she decided to go back to work, she was seeking a position with flexibility and the same schedule as her children. She loves spending her time outdoors – camping, exploring and going to the beach. Fun fact: I have been to more than 70 country concerts, and have met over 15 country singers!
Seeking a position more permanent, Lisa Cherwinski started working for the Food Services Department this year, stationed in the Primary School cafeteria. She first joined the district in 2019 as a substitute TA. She lives in Valatie, and both of her children are ICC graduates – one lives in Albany, and the other in Alabama. Previously, Lisa worked for a decade at Chris’ Cafe in Valatie, and also as a TA at a local preschool. She decided to apply to ICC in 2019 because she missed working with children. Fun fact: My children and I love to travel together, seeing and exploring new places. My favorite was when we drove across the country together, taking our time and stopping wherever we decided along the way.
Life has come full circle for our new Communications Specialist, Mackenzie Rigg. She graduated from ICC in 2003 and then went to college, graduate school and worked for 12 years as a print news reporter. She returned to Columbia County in 2020 with her husband and daughter to be close to family and friends. She wanted to continue to use her writing skills, so when she saw the posting for this position, she applied immediately. She loves being back at her alma mater, as she manages much of the district’s internal and external messages, website and social media. She just loves connecting with people! Fun fact: During one of my reporting trips in Haiti, I hiked up a mountain to find a girl I needed to interview.
How to help our ICC families
We are often asked this question by district residents: how can we help Rider students and families in need?
ICC has an array of programs aimed at helping our students and families in need, including the distribution of food, clothing, shoes, toiletries and more. This article will give you an overview of some programs that accept donations, and how to support them.
In all three buildings, staff run programs to distribute food to about 85 students and their families each week. This helps provide food over the weekends when other food resources, including school breakfasts and lunches, aren’t available.
At the Primary and Middle Schools, staff coordinate the BackPack programs, which were created in partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The program provides food on a weekly basis that is child-friendly, shelf-stable and easily consumed. Staff from both schools pack and distribute the bags discreetly to students on Fridays, and coordinate efforts to support the program financially.
Ichabod’s Table is the High School’s food distribution program. The program is sustained by donations, and its partnership with the Regional Food Bank’s School Pantry Program. Participating students receive an array of items, which can include non-perishable, fresh, frozen and refrigerated options. HS Librarian Jennifer Two-Axe runs Ichabod’s Table, as well as Ichabod’s Closet. The Closet accepts donations of clothing, shoes, coats and toiletries. Students can access The Closet throughout the day and after school by contacting Jennifer Two-Axe.
The Music Department also accepts donations of instruments and black clothes.
How to donate to these programs:
Both BackPack programs:
If you want to donate online, visit www.regional foodbank.net. Click on the “Donate Now” link. Select “Children’s Programs,” and put BP Ichabod Crane (Primary or Middle School) in the “Partner Agency Name” section.
If you want to send a check, mail it to Regional Food Bank, 965 Albany-Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110. The check should be made out to Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY and have BP Ichabod Crane (Primary or Middle) on the memo line.
Checks can be mailed to Ichabod Crane High School, c/o
Jennifer Two-Axe, 2910 Route 9, Valatie, NY 12184, and made out to Ichabod Crane. In the memo please specify Ichabod’s Table.
Monetary donations can also be sent to the Regional Food Bank of NENY 965, Albany-Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110. Please include in the memo section ICCHS 1895T.
If you are interested in helping the Closet, they accept gently used or new clothing, coats, shoes and sneakers.
They also accept toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.
All donations can be dropped off at the HS greeter station or arrangements for pick-up can be made with Jennifer Two-Axe via email. (email@example.com).
- Music Department:
Blue and white clothing: We collect gently used ICC clothing to share with our students who don’t have or can’t purchase their own blue and white Rider gear.
Students in all three buildings can drop off their items in the main offices.
If you are interested in receiving a donation, please contact your building's counselor or administrator.
We all appreciate the ongoing and generous support that our community consistently provides to our Rider family!
Wall of Fame 2023 nominations
The purpose of the Ichabod Crane Wall of Fame is to recognize the contributions of a diverse group of graduates, former employees, volunteers, and/or friends of the district.
These individuals have achieved noteworthy and outstanding accomplishments in their chosen fields, or in service to the district, and serve as role models for our students.
Please visit our website for more information, including the nomination process, selection criteria, timeline and more.
Nominating applications must be received by February 27, 2023. The Wall of Fame Committee will meet in March to review potential candidates and vote. The district will announce new inductees to the public in the spring.
Health precautions for winter 2023
Now with winter here, we are urging everyone to take precautions to keep our ICC student body and staff, as well as their families, as healthy as possible.
With flu season here, and New York experiencing a host of other viral infections, including COVID-19, the flu, RSV and the common cold, it is incredibly important that we take precautions to mitigate the spread of these viruses.
Here are some of our recommended precautions:
Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands; sneeze or cough into your elbow.
Stay home when sick or symptomatic – these symptoms include, but are not limited to, cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea.
As a reminder, we sent home COVID-19 test kits, which we obtained from the state, before the holiday break.
As a precaution, we encourage you to test your child(ren) before returning to school after the break in order to mitigate any potential spread of the virus from holiday gatherings.
Although this testing is voluntary, and families can use these tests at their discretion, we ask that you help us stop the spread of COVID-19 by testing immediately prior to the return to school and to keep your child home if they are experiencing any symptoms.
Some health resources:
New federal subsidy helps pay for internet costs
The FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides eligible households with a discount on broadband service and connected devices.
This new benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.
The deadline to apply is January 9, 2023.
Those eligible for this program include all families approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program, or the breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).
There are additional ways to qualify. Go to fcc.gov/acp to learn more and apply.
#ICYMI: ICC December events
#ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), December was a very busy month at ICC!
We held many of our annual events, including Melissa Murray’s Festival of Trees (which was indoors again), our series of Winter Concerts performed by our student musicians, and our Holiday Spirit Week that spread holiday cheer and joy across the district!
During December, our students and staff also dedicated countless hours giving back to our community and practicing the character traits that keep us united as a Rider family.
Thirty-two High School students, along with staff, visited The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell to spread holiday cheer to many of its residents. For weeks, students collected items to create ~240 holiday gift bags, which were distributed during their visit. They also sang carols and hosted a bingo tournament with festive prizes during their visit.
On Dec. 5, a group of our fourth-graders shared a biographical timeline of late President Martin Van Buren, in honor of his 240th birthday, which was celebrated with a community ceremony. Did you know that MVB was born one year after the Americans won the Revolutionary War, making him the first president who was born a U.S. citizen? That was one of the many facts that our fourth-graders shared.
At the Primary School, students and staff prepped for weeks, and decorated their building for the Festival of Trees. Also, students in each grade (K-3) were recognized for exemplifying November's character trait of gratitude. The entire school ended the week before break with a Holiday Sing-A-Long. The students and staff had SO much fun showing off their amazing singing voices and dance moves, dressed in their favorite holiday pajamas.
Our non-instructional departments also added so much to the festive spirit felt across the campus, and in the surrounding community!
For example, our Transportation Department staff decorated one of our smaller yellow buses to look just like a reindeer. The High School cheerleading team joined up with the department's "reindeer" to take part in this year's Valatie Winter Walk. Additionally, the Grinch and Frosty wished the Primary School students a happy and safe holiday during dismissal on the last day of school before Winter Break.
Make sure to keep scrolling, so you can see all the beautiful and festive photographs from December!