Students, Sullivan 180 help beautify Liberty Middle School

Students backfill a newly planted treeOn Wednesday, Sept. 27, students from Liberty Middle School assisted in planting six trees to help provide shade at the playground.

About three dozen students came out in shifts to help back fill the holes, dug by the school maintenance crew, who also placed the trees in the holes.

“I think it was a fun experience,” sixth grader Conner Baum said. “It felt good to help.”

Students with shovels pose for a photo outsideLily Kehrley agreed.

“It was really fun and I want to see them grow!” the sixth grader said. “It was fun because we will be a part of the school when we graduate.”

Earlier in the week, bushes were also planted in front of the school by the maintenance crew. Funding for the project was made possible, in part, by a $1,880 School Beautification Grant from Sullivan 180.

students work together to carry a bag of soil from a truck“Liberty Middle School is thrilled to accept the Sullivan 180 Beautification Grant. This generous support will help us enhance the beauty and vitality of our environment, one tree at a time,” Middle School Principal Heather Cheh said. “Together, we will create a greener, more vibrant community that future generations will cherish. Thank you for investing in the natural beauty that surrounds us and for being a partner in our mission to make our school a better place.”

As students separated the rocks and sod from the dirt and filled in around the trees, they learned more about the trees planted — two each of hawthorne, river birch and October glory maple — as well as proper planting techniques from Carmela Hugel, beautification program manager with Sullivan 180.

Students pose in front of school behind the middle school“I loved the planting and I wish we could do it again next year before going to the high school,” seventh grader Damien Keating said.

The students who participated were chosen by teachers and administrators because they have embraced the Leader in Me principles and have displayed 7 Habits.

“Creating student leaders and good citizens is important,” Cheh said. “We offer opportunities such as this for students who show those vital qualities.”

There was an added benefit of taking time to be outside on a beautiful day while helping the school.

“It was really nice to be able to get outside and be a part of making our school a better place and beautiful place,” eighth grader Shea-Leigh Kristiansen said. “I think that it is important to not only create a healthy school community, but a beautiful place to have that community too.”

“There were also several people at LCSD who we couldn’t have done this without,” Cheh said. “A special thank you to LMS staff Malinda Kristiansen and Tony Lesczynski, and LCSD Building and Grounds crew James Black, Joe Davis and Michael  Black.”

Digital Equity Survey responses needed

Dear Liberty Families,

The Liberty Central School District is asking all parents, guardians and students to take a Digital Equity Survey to help identify students who may need access to reliable internet and/or a digital device for completing schoolwork at home. New York state requires that school districts collect this information to better serve our families’ needs.

The survey should take no more than five minutes to complete. Access the Digital Equity Survey here.

If your situation changes after you submit the survey, please complete the survey again.

For more information or if you have trouble submitting the survey, email Stacy Feasel at or call her at 845-292-5400, ext. 2322.

Take steps to stay safe from respiratory illnesses

It is important to us here at Liberty that we keep our school community safe and healthy. Respiratory illnesses are on the rise here and across the nation, with the triple threat of flu, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. These viruses, while usually manageable, can lead to illness, hospitalizations or death, according to the state Departments of Health and Education.

There are several simple steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of these illnesses.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water isn’t available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands; sneeze or cough into your elbow or into a disposable tissue.
  • Although we want our students and teachers to be in school as often as possible, we’d rather they stay home when they are sick or symptomatic.
  • Stay up to date on vaccines, including flu and COVID-19. Find a location to get vaccinated here.
  • If you have been exposed to someone who is sick, are at high risk for infection or just feel more comfortable wearing a mask while in public indoor spaces, wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask.

Masks and rapid COVID tests are available in the health office of each building.

To learn more about COVID, RSV and flu, visit the state Health Department page on respiratory illnesses.

The state Health Department also has information for parents and guardians about fighting flu. Click here for printable a flu information flyer in English, and click here for a printable flu information flyer in Spanish.

LHS teaching assistant earns MHSSC honor

Teaching Assistant Nancy Katzenberger will be honored later this fall as one the recipients of the Mid-Hudson School Study Council’s Support Staff Award for Excellence in Education.

Nancy KatzenbergerKatzenberger recently began her 27th year at Liberty High School.

“Nancy has the aptitude, ability and motivation to assist with all aspects of learning throughout our high school and has been a model employee,” High School Principal Derek Adams said in the nomination letter.

For many years she assisted in the earth science classes before helping in the life skills class two years ago. There she helps students realize their potential by acting as a role model, and she is an invaluable support when teaching students the necessary competencies for being an independent adult.

Her dedication to Liberty goes beyond the students. She is a member of the LHS Building Leadership Team, president of her collective bargaining unit and volunteers her time to the monthly building safety team meetings. As an extension of the safety role, Katzenberger served on the COVID reopening team, which created and executed plans to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also often volunteers to serve on hiring committees as well as other service orientation opportunities.

“What strikes me most about Nancy is her willingness to do what is best for the students, our school and the district,” Adams said. “Ms. Katzenberger is a model support staff member and the epitome of a recipient for an award based in educational excellence.”

The MHSSC awards for administration, pupil personnel services and support staff services will be presented Nov. 1 at The Barn at Villa Venezia in Middletown. The school board service and community service awards will be presented in the spring

Special education teacher, former coach to be honored by SCSBA

Two people who have had a positive impact on Liberty Central School District will be honored next month by the Sullivan County School Boards Association.

Special education teacher Jill Weiner will be presented with an Outstanding Educator Award, and former mathematics teacher and coach Ralph Bressler will receive an Outstanding Friend to Education Award.

“Liberty Central School District could not be more proud to honor these well-deserved individuals who have dedicated their careers to making Liberty a great place to learn,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan said.

Jill Weiner

Jill WeinerWeiner has been a special education teacher for more than 30 years—27 of them at Liberty. A special education teacher for a multi-grade self-contained class at Liberty Middle School for the past four years, she has taught at various grade levels kindergarten through eighth grade.. As a special education teacher, Weiner “strives to differentiate instruction, for all of her students to benefit, and plans learning activities to maintain motivation and engagement,” Middle School Principal Heather Cheh said in her nomination letter.

In addition to academic instruction, Weiner arranges for her students to perform hands-on activities, such as running a Class Cafe. The cafe includes preparing food, serving customers and cleaning up. Further, her multi-grade self-contained class creates and hosts thematic bingo games for other students. She and her students plan virtual cooking nights, where they can meet outside of the classroom and cook together.

Community service is also a theme in her classroom. Students help in preparing “snack packs” for the Liberty Middle School, create holiday gifts for the homeless, design games and signs for community events, as well as make holiday cards for veterans.

As an advocate for individuals with special needs, Weiner consistently offers support to the parents of her students, and when applicable, provides resources to help them receive services outside of the school for their children.

Ralph Bressler

Ralph Bressler speaks in the Liberty High School auditorium.Bressler taught mathematics in Liberty for more than 30 years and was a coach for just as long. He retired teaching before he retired coaching, ending his coaching career in the spring.

“I could just as well be writing this recommendation for Mr. Bressler to receive the outstanding educator award if he were still formally teaching,” High School Principal Derek Adams said in his nomination letter.. “He has never detached himself from the art and science of teaching through coaching and other avenues.”

His service to the district goes beyond the classroom and coaching. He serves as the scorekeeper and national anthem singer for Liberty basketball games. For years, he also served as the district’s webmaster, taking special care to promote athletic programs.  A certified emergency medical technician, Bressler used his skills to provide coaches required first aid and CPR training.

Experiencing many athletic director transitions, Bressler also made sure that the person was supported, understood the history of the programs, and that students were being given opportunities through athletics. He also consistently held students accountable for their academic success while promoting their athletic endeavors.

“Mr. Bressler, as a model of lifelong learning, has challenged himself to learn something new or take on another challenge,” Adams said. For example, Bressler agreed to take on a chemistry teaching position for a year and a half until a permanent hire was found, despite not having taught chemistry in several decades. He dedicated many hours refining his chemistry knowledge, searching for laboratory experiences and updating the course materials.

The awards will be presented at an Oct. 18 banquet at the Villa Roma in Callicoon.

LHS earns place on US News Best High School ranking

Liberty High School was ranked in US News and World Reports’ 2023-24 Best High Schools listing.

“We are proud to be ranked in the top half of schools in New York and among the top 40% in the nation,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan said.

LHS was 549 of 1,198 ranked schools within New York, and 6,214 of 17,680 in the national ranking. Schools are ranked on their performance on state-required tests, based on testing from 2019, graduation rates and how well they prepare students for college.

The Advanced Placement participation rate at Liberty High School is 19%, with 13% of students passing at least one AP exam. The high school had proficiency rates of 80% in mathematics, 86% in reading and 75% in science, all higher than the state average.

Regents scores were well above U.S. News’ expectations, according to information provided by the organization. However, the LHS graduation rate was 82% (slightly below the state median), and college readiness index was 14.6 of 100, based 25% on the AP or IB participation rate and 75% on the quality-adjusted AP or IB participation rate.

The total minority enrollment is 58%, and 60% of students are economically disadvantaged.

To see more on what factored into Liberty High School’s ranking, click here. More information about how US News compiled the ranking is available here.

“This ranking shows we are making progress on improving the educational experience for our students,” Sullivan said. “Our five year-strategic plan will help us continue our improvement.”

LES honors first responders during 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

An American flag is suspended between two ladder trucks as people in firefighting gear stand near.With a backdrop of an American flag hoisted between two ladder trucks, Liberty Elementary students and staff remembered the police, firefighters and all first responders who lost their lives in or because of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. As students learned about what happened on that fateful day in 2001, they also learned about those courageous heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Students seated on the ground wave American flagsAs they waved more than 700 American flags, students and staff honored local law enforcement agencies, firefighters and EMTs who serve our communities today during the annual tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. Robert England, the school principal, reminded students that police officers, firefighters and all first responders run to the danger to keep us safe, and they deserve our thanks. He said, “When we see a police officer, firefighter or EMT person in uniform, we will give them a ‘Liberty Thumbs Up’ as our way of saying thank you for their service and for keeping us safe.”

A police officer speaks to children seated in a parking lot.The school invited all past and present law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs to the September 11 Remembrance Ceremony. Personnel from the Liberty Police Department, State Police, Liberty Fire Department, Loch Sheldrake Fire Department, Monticello Police Department, White Sulphur Springs Fire Department, New York State Department of Environmental Protection, White Lake Fire Department, Fallsburg Police Department, and many other former first responders were also honored in this solemn learning experience about service and community. Liberty Police Chief Steven D’Agata also spoke about how much police, fire and medical workers mean to the community. 

First responders stand in two lines as students wave and give thumbs up as they enter a buildingThe first responders lined the doorways at the close of the event, as passing students and staff gave thumbs ups, high fives, waves and fist bumps to the guests, who were given American flag pins and thank you cards by students.

See more photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Conference days kick off the new year for faculty, staff

Faculty, staff and administration spent the past two days gearing up to welcome students back to school.

The first of two conference days opened with keynote speaker Erica Orange, executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Future Hunters, one of the world-leading futurist consulting firms. Her presentation, “Failing Forward: The Future of Learning”  focused on looking to the future of education, identifying trends and how to strategize how to most effectively support students and LCSD’s vision of cultivating trust and courage to be innovative and to persevere. She discussed how Gen Z is different from past generations and how that generation and future ones are developing biliterate brains — those that can think in the physical and digital realms. The increased use of automation and augmented and artificial intelligence is changing the way educators must think about teaching and learning, she said.

After a welcome and introduction by Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan, BOE President Matt DeWitt and various school union leaders, new members of the Liberty Central School District were introduced and staff members who have years of service milestones were recognized. The superintendent then reviewed the five-year strategic plan, outlined what has been accomplished and offered an overview of what the next steps will be.

There were also presentations on mental health as well as a technology overview. Following meetings and lunch, the afternoon offered time for faculty and staff to work on their classrooms and buildings and complete training.

The second day of conference days included building-specific training, information and meetings as well as overviews of district-wide programs and policies.

We are excited to welcome back our students today, Sept. 7.

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