‘Top Of The Food Chain’

MAYVILLE – With the final day of school fast approaching, area school districts recognized the best and the brightest who 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 who are retiring and hand out other awards.

“You are at the top of the food chain, and you are the very best and brightest of that species,” said David Little, director of governmental relations for the New York state School Boards Association. “That’s your reassurance.”

Students, their families, district superintendents, school board members and principals were invited to Thursday’s event. In all, 43 students received recognition.

Additionally, Chautauqua Lake Central School provided entertainment for the evening. Soloists for the evening included Mariana Mathewson, Anna Gerber, Robbie Hoitink, Ashley Paulus and Sarah Harp. The school’s newly formed female A Cappella Group, One Short of Unlucky, also performed.

Following Little’s remarks, Christine Schnars, president of the CCSBA, offered her own words of advice before recognizing the honor students.

“Call home often,” Schnars said. “Reassure mom and dad that you’re healthy, that you’re happy and that you’re doing well. And, mom and dad, they’ll be ok.”

Schnars and Ray Fashano, executive director of the CCSBA presented awards, along with Edith Byrne and Gary DeLellis, CCSBA board members.

Honors students who received recognition were Sara Crossley and W. Benton Swanson of Bemus Point; Ryan Mancuso and Ryan Nyweide of Brocton; Emily Masiker and Colin Perry of Cassadaga Valley; Erica Homme and Mary Schmidt of Chautauqua Lake; Rachel Lester and Richard Resta of Clymer; Lucas A. Julian and Rafael Muller, Jr. of Dunkirk; Emily Gilman and Lindsey Whitmore of E2CC BOCES; Krista Cooley and Brandon Norris of Falconer; Kendra Catalano and Emily Markham of Forestville; Melissa Pchelka and Laura Woods of Fredonia; Jacob W. Caldwell and Reyanne N. Strong of Frewsburg; Ryan Salemme and Olivia Zabrodsky of Jamestown; Jennifer Merchang and Brian Radka of Panama; Allen Gage and Amber Riggs of Pine Valley; Eric A. Horstman and Cody A. Rater of Ripley; Allyson Cady and Danielle Reed of Sherman; Anna Hartinger and Andrew Sweetman of Silver Creek; Conner Forsber and Erica Stevens of Southwestern; and Kristen Grohol and Daniel Tofil of Westfield.

Roberta Coniglio, of the Fredonia Central School Board of Education, was awarded board member of the year.

“When we started 10 years ago or more, it was a little more fun to be on the board,” Coniglio said. “Now, not so much. However, the end result is always the same: To do the best we can do for our students. I am in awe of all the honors students here. You just make us so proud of all you have accomplished.”

Gregory T. DeCinque, who is retiring from JCC after a 19-year presidency, received the Honored Friend of Education Award.

“If I would have known I could have gotten this honor, I would have retired sooner,” DeCinque joked.

School board members who are leaving service were also recognized Thursday night. Those who are leaving are Patrick Green of Bemus Point, who served nine years; Susan Hardy of Brocton, who served 10 years; David Hazelton of Brocton, who served 10 years; Alexander DiMaio of Frewsburg, who served four years; Alfred McClymonds of E2CC BOCES, who served two years; Tim Hollern of Southwestern, who served eight years; Uma Bejendla of Southwestern, who served two years; Joy Bodenmiller of Westfield, who served six years; and Edward LeBarron, Jr. of Westfield, who served seven years.

Superintendents who are retiring this year are Deke Kathman of Jamestown, who served as superintendent for five years; and Daniel George of Southwestern, who served eight years.

Nine students each received $1,000 scholarships from the Far West Council of School Superintendents. They were Luciana Sena of Chautauqua Lake; Kaitlyn McMurdy of Dunkirk; Emily Markham of Forestville; Reyanne Strong of Frewsburg; Zachary Eklum of Jamestown; Johnna Graham of Jamestown; Olivia Zabrodsky of Jamestown; Roberta Starceski of Sherman; and Kristin Grohol of Westfield.