UPK screenings to begin; registration still open

Screenings for the Liberty Central School District’s free Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program for the 2024-25 school year will begin today and continue through Monday, July 15. Those who have not registered for the program may also do so at that time, as there are still spaces available.

The screening sessions will be held at the Liberty Elementary School from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, July 10 and 11, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, July 12, and noon to 3 p.m. Monday, July 15.

To register, call 845-292-5400, ext. 2331, or attend one of the UPK Screening sessions. Parents or guardians will fill out an application at that time. They must also bring a copy of parent/guardian’s photo ID; custody papers, if applicable; proof of residency, such as a utility bill or rental lease; and the child’s birth certificate, immunization records and a copy of recent physical exam, which must include all school physical exam requirements. Parents and guardians are encouraged to check with their child’s doctor for details.

Classes will be held at Liberty Elementary School and G&D Services at the former White Sulphur Springs Elementary School. Busing will be available for all students.

Students must be 4 years old on or before Dec. 1, 2024, to qualify for the program.

Spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, email Interim Assistant Superintendent Marianne Serratore at mserratore@libertyk12.org or call 845-292-5400, ext. 2052.

Road work to impact traffic at Middle/High School

The Village of Liberty is planning on paving Buckley Street and West Street sometime next week. While the road work is being completed, the Middle and High School campus will only be available via Willey Avenue.

This will also impact our pick up and drop off procedures for our summer programs at the Buckley Street campus.

All traffic will enter the car lane in front of the high school. Buses will continue to the middle school lot to drop off and pick up students. Parents and guardians who are dropping off students will park in the high school to drop off and pick up their students. All traffic will exit via the high school exit lane.

Traffic to the district office will enter via Willey Avenue and may proceed to the district office parking lot as normal.

A police officer will be directing traffic at the campus entrance at Willey Avenue and Buckley Street, and staff will be assisting in the lots, during pick up and drop off time

At this time we are not sure what day or days the road work will be underway, but we will put this traffic pattern into place starting Friday, July 12, and it will remain in effect until the roadwork is complete.

Rockefeller Institute of Government seeks input on Foundation Aid funding

A study is being done by the Rockefeller Institute of Government to assess the State’s Foundation Aid education funding formula and discuss potential changes to how the formula works.

As part of the Foundation Aid Study, the Rockefeller Institute wants to hear from education stakeholders across New York state, including students, their parents and families, teachers, school staff and administrators.

Feedback and input on the Foundation Aid formula can be provided in two ways:

  • Submit written comments on the Rockefeller Institute website.
  • Register to speak at one of five public hearings happening this July and August in New York City, Buffalo, Farmingdale, Laurens and Guilderland.

For more information on the Foundation Aid formula, the study, how to provide written feedback, and the upcoming public hearings, visit https://www.rockinst.org/foundation-aid-study/

BOE to meet Monday, July 8

The next Board of Education meeting will be on Monday, July 8, 2024, in the HS Media Center as follows:

  • 5 p.m.: Special Meeting of the Board for executive session only.  This meeting is not open to the public
  • 6 p.m.: Annual Organizational Meeting followed by the regular meeting.  Both meetings are open to the public.

The agenda will be available on Sunday, July 7, 2024, at Board Docs.

 

 

LCSD stories earn NSPRA Awards

Two stories featured on the Liberty Central School District website and shared with local media recently earned an “Excellence” rating in the National School Public Relations Association’s contest.

The two stories, written by public information specialist Denielle Cazzolla, were used to highlight the district’s five-year strategic plan in action.

The first, “LHS senior uses NASA opportunities to help further her goals beyond the rainbow” focused on Jayla Edwards, who was selected for a very competitive program hosted by NASA between her junior and senior year, and then was among a select few in the program to have an additional learning experience. The story also highlighted her interests in theater, as she was playing Dorothy in the Liberty Performing Arts fall production, “The Wizard of Oz.”

The second story, “New technology brings history to life,” featured how the sixth grade social studies classes of Samantha Abplanalp are using AI to “interview” Egyptian pharaohs. Beside learning about the leaders from centuries ago, the students were able to assess the accuracy of the information provided by ChatGPT, bringing 21st century skills into the classroom.

“It’s important to see the impact our district and its strategic plan are having on students and the district’s mission to empower each student to contribute and thrive in a diverse community by pursuing their potential,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan. “These stories are just two of many ways our district is working to help our community see what makes Liberty a great place in which to learn, grow and thrive.”

Free summer meals for kids available in Liberty

Nearly 30 million children participate in USDA’s school breakfast and lunch programs on an average school day. When school is out for the summer, kids lose access to these healthy meals, but they still need nutritious food to grow healthy and strong.

This year, New York is offering new summer nutrition options to help our children reach their full potential.

With SUN Meals, kids 18 and under can get free meals and snacks at schools, parks and other group meal locations. And the new SUN Bucks helps families stretch grocery budgets with a $120 grocery benefit for each eligible school-aged child. More information on the summer EBT program is available at https://otda.ny.gov/programs/summer-ebt/

There are three locations in Liberty where free meals will be offered.

  • Francis A Hanofee Park, 136 Sunset Lake Road, Liberty, Monday through Friday, July 1-Aug. 16, with breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Liberty Middle School, 145 Buckley St. Monday through Friday, July 8-Aug. 16, with breakfast served from 7 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
  • Liberty Elementary School, 201 N. Main St., Friday, July 8-Aug. 16, with breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Menus are available at https://www.libertyk12.org/department-services/food-services/summer-meals-and-menus/

First class of Liberty Redhawks graduates

The first Class of Liberty Redhawks flew the nest Friday, June 28, with 117 students recognized during the 127th annual commencement ceremony.

The evening, held on the high school football field, carried themes of community and resilience.

“Look around you. You are not merely a group of individuals sharing the same space; you are a community. A community that has laughed together, cried together, persevered through hybrid learning together, and most importantly, triumphed together,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan said.

There were several challenges for the Class of 2024, starting with the COVID pandemic and including the loss of a classmate, Javon Islam, who passed away in May 2023.

“Despite all the difficulties we faced, the classmates surrounding you right now are the people who navigated through these years alongside you,” Class President Zoe Kip said. “Now we stand together, one last time, preparing for our futures with memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.”

And it is important to cherish those memories and also take time to make new ones, Salutatorian Jumana Abu Al Ghanam said.

“I encourage all those here today to not only work hard, but also have fun,” she said. “Our futures don’t just consist of mind-numbing work, but new memories we will make when we find ourselves and enjoy our lives.”

But the choices graduates make and how they respond will decide their futures, LHS Principal Derek Adams said. “Challenges will continue, but instead of letting life happen to you, choose your challenges and let your struggles become your strengths.”

Valedictorian Benjamin Visconti encouraged his classmates to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. “Motivate and inspire others to make their own legacy,” he said as he quoted Mother Teresa: “‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’

“So I stress to all of you, go out and make your own ripples,” he said, “make our world brighter, one stone at a time.”

But no matter where those ripples are made, Liberty will forever be home for the graduates, Board of Education President Matthew DeWitt said. Board President Matthew DeWitt:

“To the Class of 2024, This is not the end, this is the beginning. I hope your travels take you all around this country and all around the world but remember you’ll always have a place in Liberty and within this community.”

  • A student speaks at a podium as other graduates stand

The full ceremony and speeches can be seen on our livestream at https://events.locallive.tv/events/149897 or on YouTube:

Space still available in Liberty UPK program

There are spaces still available in Liberty Central School District’s free Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program for the 2024-25 school year. Classes will be held at Liberty Elementary School and G&D Services at the former White Sulphur Springs Elementary School. Busing will be available for all students.

Students must be 4 years old on or before Dec. 1, 2024, to qualify for the program.

To register, call 845-292-5400, ext. 2331, or attend one of the UPK Screening sessions, which will be held at the Liberty Elementary School from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, July 10 and 11, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, July 12, and noon to 3 p.m. Monday, July 15.

Parents or guardians will fill out an application at that time. They must also bring a copy of parent/guardian’s photo ID; custody papers, if applicable; proof of residency, such as a utility bill or rental lease; and the child’s birth certificate, immunization records and a copy of recent physical exam, which must include all school physical exam requirements. Parents and guardians are encouraged to check with their child’s doctor for details.

Spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, email Interim Assistant Superintendent Marianne Serratore at mserratore@libertyk12.org or call 845-292-5400, ext. 2052.

LCSD inducts two into Wall of Fame

Two Liberty Central School District graduates whose impacts on the school and community were quite different were honored Friday, June 28, at the annual Liberty Central School District Wall of Fame ceremony in the LHS auditorium.

“Our Wall of Fame inductees embody a remarkable spectrum of personal and professional accomplishments, each contributing to the enduring legacy of the Liberty Central School District and the Liberty community at large,” said LCSD Interim Assistant Superintendent Marianne Serratore, who led the ceremony. “We are thrilled to extend a warm welcome to two outstanding individuals joining the ranks of our esteemed honorees: Mr. Kurt Scheibe and Mr. Maurice Gerry.”

More than 100 friends and family attend the ceremony in honor of Scheibe, a 1962 graduate who was integral to the growth of Little League throughout the region, and Gerry, a 1949 LHS graduate whose advocacy went far beyond Liberty but bloomed locally.

The Wall of Fame was established in 2011 by the Board of Education to honor extraordinary alumni. Nominees are judged on exceptional accomplishments and significant contributions within their career, community or personal life.

Kurt F. Scheibe

A woman hands a man a box standing while standing behind a podium as a woman watches.
Kurt Scheibe receives his award from his sister Mary Heinle as Interim Assistant Superintendent Marianne Serratore watches

There is no doubt that Little League wouldn’t be the same in the region had Scheibe not been passionately involved with the sport.

“Baseball was always on his mind,” his sister Mary Heinle said.

He always worked for a better baseball experience for his “boys,” she said. Serving as a Little League coach, he sought donations and sponsors, ensuring young athletes had uniforms and a pitching machine.

Among his achievements is the transformation of the White Sulphur ballfield from a swampland to what has become an integral part of the White Sulphur Springs Fire Department park.

Before the field was fixed, “I’m sure some of the boys were catching frogs in the outfield,” Heinle said.

Collaborating with neighboring town coaches, Scheibe orchestrated a summer of sports, fostering enjoyment and the development of athletic skills and sportsmanship in the players.

He ensured the WSS ballfield was immaculate, and assisted other communities such as Grahamsville in developing their sports fields. Transitioning from coaching to officiating, he uses his time and sports knowledge to referee youth games and fundraisers.

Beyond his youth-focused endeavors, he serves as the treasurer for the WSS FD, and is a member of the Liberty Elks Lodge, putting in countless hours volunteering over 60 years for both organizations.

Maurice Gerry

A man speaks at a podium
Maurice Gerry speaks at the Wall of Fame ceremony.

Although Gerry  traveled far from Liberty, entering the Navy after high school and settling in San Francisco, Liberty was always in his heart.

“This ‘unicorn’ is the most dedicated man I’ve ever seen in the community,” Ron Gozza said in introducing his best friend.

The hamlet of Ferndale holds a special place in Gerry’s heart. So much so, he made it his mission to revitalize the first 10 houses—five on either side of the road—at the entrance of the community, Gozza said.

Gerry’s education began in a one-room schoolhouse on Ferndale-Loomis Road. His first teacher, Mrs. Manion, had such an impact he recently dedicated a plaque in her honor to be displayed on the schoolhouse wall, once the building is restored.

Gerry gave special thanks to the educators in his life. “In memory of my teachers, my principals, my friends, I really want to thank you for this honor,” he said.

While out West he worked with Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Actively involved in Diane Feinstein’s mayoral campaign, Gerry’s efforts to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic earned him the honor of representing Alaska in a Washington, D.C., parade for the cause.

He returned to Liberty to care for his aging parents and immersed himself in local politics, the arts and preservation. The visionary behind the Ms. Sullivan County Beauty Pageant, he championed diversity and inclusion, ensuring financial barriers did not hinder participation. Serving as town councilman for two decades, affectionately known as the “Tree Hugger,” Gerry dedicated himself to maintaining Liberty’s beauty and integrity.

At the age of 91, he assumed the role of interim councilman, a testament to his enduring commitment. Gerry actively supports humanitarian efforts locally and internationally, holding seats at O & M Museum, Liberty Arts Museum, Time and Again Museum and the Shandelee Music Festival.

“I have some comfort knowing my picture will be somewhere other than my tombstone,” Gerry said, referring to the Wall of Fame in the High School lobby, which includes plaques of all of the inductees.

During the ceremony, proclamations and certificates on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Senate and Assembly, the Sullivan County Legislature and the Town of Liberty were presented to each of the inductees.

“We are thankful for the dedication of Mr. Gerry and Mr. Scheibe to the Liberty community,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan said. “They each showed, in different ways, how one person can make a difference.”

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