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Onteora Board of Education Requests Commissioner of Education to Order Recount of Ballots

The Onteora Central School District Board of Education has unanimously approved a resolution requesting a recount of ballots cast in the 2022-2023 Budget Vote and Election to determine the winner of the third open Board seat. The resolution was passed at the Special Board Meeting held on May 27.

At the conclusion of the vote on May 17, the District determined that there had been an error in counting a handful of ballots at two polling sites. Since the number of ballots in question could affect which candidate wins the third seat, the District wants to ensure the votes are properly tallied. Under the Education Law, the District is not permitted to recount the ballots. Once the ballots are sealed at the end of the night, only the Commissioner of Education can order a recount of the ballots.

The resolution is as follows:

BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education hereby authorizes an action to be filed with the Commissioner of Education requesting a recount of the ballots in the May 17, 2022 Annual Budget Vote and Election.

Onteora Honors Kyra Smith and Avery Burns as MHAL Senior Scholar-Athletes







Kyra Smith and Avery Burns have been named this year’s Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL) Senior Scholar-Athlete Award recipients from Onteora High School (OHS). The awards, which are given to one female and one male student from each school in the League, are based on academic merit and athletic performance.

Avery, who ranks 26th in his class, has played Varsity Golf, Wrestling, and Baseball during his time at Onteora. His athletic honors include serving as captain of the Wrestling and Golf teams and earning fall athlete-of-the-year honors. He was a finalist in the 2022 Section IX Wrestling Championships, placed fourth at Sectionals in 2020, and was also a member of Onteora’s Division-winning teams in Golf (2019 and 2020) and Wrestling (2022). He is a member of the School Athletic Council. He has been named a Mid-Hudson Scholar-Athlete for every season since 7th grade. 

Avery’s community service includes volunteering for his church. “I have provided 30 yearly hours of community service for four years through my church,” he says, explaining that his volunteer duties have included cleaning and maintaining church grounds and doing holiday shopping for families in need. He also participated in a trout release for a local club, and helping out with a yearly cleanup of a local cemetery. He plans to attend SUNY Delhi, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in construction management.

Kyra, who ranks 29th in her class, has earned seven Varsity letters as a member of Onteora’s Basketball, Field Hockey, and Track teams. This year, she captained the Field Hockey and Basketball teams.

When she’s not playing sports or doing schoolwork, Kyra can often be found at a local restaurant, where she has worked since the age of 14. Previously, she volunteered at her town’s summer camp. In the fall, she will be attending SUNY New Paltz, where she plans to major in Marketing Management and minor in Early Childhood Education. “I don’t plan on being on a sports team, but I may possibly play club field hockey because I know I will miss playing a sport,” she says.

Onteora Seniors Earn Seals of Biliteracy

This June, 12 Onteora seniors are graduating with a prestigious and well-deserved mark of distinction: New York State’s Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSOB). The students who have earned the seal are: Christian Amarilla Barrios (Spanish); Amira Chefridi (French); Bernice DeLaura (French); Joey Driscoll (Spanish); Sophie Frank (Spanish); Sophia Grinberg (French); Ava Maki (Spanish); Scarlette Ragues (French); Jackson Scanlon (Spanish); Sydnee Schilling (Spanish); Shane Stackpole (French); and Isabelle Vandamme (French).

“The seal recognizes advanced achievement in both English as well as another World Language, with students having to earn points in both languages through coursework and AP and Regent exams, as well as a final presentation on a year of research in a World Language other than English,” explained Valerie Stewart, Onteora’s World Languages Liaison. 

This is the fifth year that the school district has encouraged students to seek this seal, which will be affixed to their High School diplomas and transcripts. Students will also be wearing a NYSSOB medallion around their necks at graduation. Coming off the heels of the pandemic, when presentations had been held virtually for the past two years, this year marked the return of in-person presentations before the school’s Seal of Biliteracy Committee.

“The students and committee were excited to have the presentations back to in-person this year,” said Mrs. Stewart. “We really missed the personal touch that comes with being in a room with our students as they present. Also, they were able to share authentic items such as food and literature, as well as playing instruments and demonstrating ballet skills.”

At the end of their presentations, students answered questions from the Committee, which consisted of members of the Onteora World Languages Department (Christi Nelsen-Epstein, Annie Gallin, Rebecca Joslin, and Valerie Stewart), School Counselors Sam Smith and Sarah Turck, Teaching Assistant Chantal Kwarteng, English teacher Bridget Allison, and English as a New Language teachers Emma Katz and Robin Osswald.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Mrs. Stewart said, “These 12 students have worked tirelessly and enthusiastically all year on their presentations, and we were delighted to be a part of this achievement with them. As a committee, we learned so much from these students on their various topics.”

Christian Amarilla Barrios chose to conduct his research on Pablo Escobar, the notorious leader of the Medellín drug cartel. “I didn’t want to do something mainstream,” he explained. Christian, whose parents were born in Paraguay, speaks Spanish at home. Participating in the Seal of Biliteracy program was not only fun, he said, “It was also a way to be recognized as officially biliterate.” He plans to continue with his Spanish studies at SUNY Ulster, where he will be starting his college career.

For more information on the New York Seal of Biliteracy, please visit

Onteora Announces Valedictorian, Salutatorian, Principal’s Award Recipient






The Onteora Central School District is proud to announce that Joey Driscoll is Valedictorian of the Class of 2022, Tahlula Potter is Salutatorian, and Shane Stackpole is this year’s recipient of the Principal’s Award.

“We are extremely proud of Joey, Tahlula, and Shane, who have excelled both inside and outside of the classroom, and have contributed so much to the Onteora community,” said Onteora High School Principal Lance Edelman. “We have no doubt they will continue to make us proud in the years to come.”

Valedictorian Joey Driscoll

Joey, the daughter of Jessie and Dan Driscoll of Woodstock, leads her class with a weighted Grade Point Average (GPA) of 101.235, which she achieved while juggling a challenging course load and a host of extracurricular activities. In addition to taking nine Advanced Placement (AP) courses, Joey participated in many clubs and musical endeavors during her time at Onteora.

A talented violinist, Joey is concertmaster of the Onteora High School Orchestra and the Onteora Chamber Ensemble. Her musical honors include being invited to play on the stage of Carnegie Hall and to perform as a guest soloist with the Woodstock Symphony Orchestra. Recently, she played in the pit orchestra for Onteora’s performance of The Little Mermaid. She has also participated in All-County and All-State festivals.

Serving as President of the National Honor Society, she helped organize canned-food and warm-clothing drives, as well as a letter-writing campaign that brought cheer to residents of nursing homes, and encouraging words to Grade 4 students. She also participated in Harvard Model Congress, the Philosophy Club, and Science Olympiad (for which she serves as co-captain). In addition, she tutors students in Spanish, Math, and Science.

Joey, who expresses gratitude for all of her teachers, has particular praise for Orchestra Director Erica Boyer, AP Government/AP Psychology/AP Human Geography teacher Alicia Curlew, AP Chemistry teacher and Science Olympiad Advisor Bryan Keenan, and AP Language teacher and National Honor Society Advisor Laura Loheide. Speaking of Mrs. Boyer, Joey says, “She has been a huge supporter and helped me feel confident in my music.”

Joey believes that Onteora, despite its relatively small size, has much to offer its students. “I think that a lot of people may be inclined to dismiss an Onteora education because we are so small, but I have had a great academic experience here,” Joey remarks. “I’ve had teachers here who have really inspired me.” 

In the fall, Joey will be attending Swarthmore College, where she plans to major in Early Childhood Education, with a possible minor in Music Education.

Salutatorian Tahlula Potter

Tahlula, the daughter of Elizabeth Potter and Donald Bucher of Phoenicia, earned her Salutatorian status by achieving a weighted GPA of 100.615. In addition to handling a rigorous course load (including 10 AP classes), she has been involved in a range of extracurricular activities.

In addition to serving as president of the Philosophy Club, she participated in Science Olympiad and National Honor Society. A talented painter, she also does graphic design for the High School newspaper, The Talon.

Among the teachers who have had the greatest impact on her, she said, are Philosophy teacher/Philosophy Club Advisor Paul Colevas, AP Chemistry teacher and Science Olympiad Advisor Bryan Keenan, English teacher Laura Loheide, and Art teacher Shelly Hamilton. “Mrs. Hamilton,” she said, “has supported my art. I did a solo show, titled ‘Death and Decay,’ at WAAM [Woodstock Artists Association & Museum], and she helped me work on the paintings.”

Her involvement in Science Olympiad, she said, nurtured her interest in pursuing a career in medicine, as did her participation in Onteora’s Community Mentorship Program, which allowed her to help out at a local health clinic.

Tahlula speaks highly of the education she received at Onteora. “Onteora has a lot of passionate and interesting teachers who are willing to put in the extra mile for their students,” she said.

Tahlula will be attending Haverford College in the fall. She plans to major in Philosophy, while also pursuing a pre-med educational track.

Principal’s Award Recipient Shane Stackpole

Shane, this year’s Principal’s Award recipient, is the son of Kiki and Scott Stackpole of West Hurley. Fifth in his class (with a weighted GPA of 98.24), he has immersed himself in school and community activities during his High School career.  

Shane served as co-captain of the Science Olympiad team, editor-in-chief of The Talon (the High School newspaper), president of the Human Rights Club, and vice-president of the National Honor Society. A talented musician, he is a member of Sounds of Jazz (an a cappella group) and has performed in multiple Phoenicia Festival of the Voice operas as a member of the chorus. He also had leading roles in two Onteora musicals, Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd.

Dance is another of Shane’s passions. He takes classes at the Saugerties Ballet Center and has performed as a member of the Ulster County Ballet Company in dance festivals and in the company’s production of A Christmas Carol.

During his junior year, Shane completed a Community Mentorship project focusing on biochemistry. “I took an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) class on the Science of COVID-19, and did research on small molecule therapeutics,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Shane has also volunteered with the Ulster Immigrant Defense Network, which distributes food and other essential supplies to immigrant families in need.

Shane says that he has had many remarkable teachers at Onteora, including Bryan Keenan, of whom he said: “His enthusiasm for Science is so infectious; he is one of the main reasons I am going into Science for a career.” He also speaks highly of English teacher Elaine Conroy. “She is the advisor of the school newspaper, and has also been there for me personally,” he said. “I really appreciate everything she has done.”

Looking back at his time at Onteora, Shane said, “I really value the intimate, tight-knit community that’s fostered at Onteora. While we’ve all found our own niche here, everyone is so supportive and encouraging of one another. Our teachers are so passionate about their respective subjects and really invest in creating meaningful connections with their students.”

In the fall, Shane will be attending Williams College, where he plans to major in Biochemistry, with a view towards pursuing a career in academic research.



Onteora to Stage "The Little Mermaid" April 28-30

Onteora Earns Place on "Best High Schools" List








Onteora High School has earned a spot on the U.S. News & World Report’s listing of the best U.S. High Schools in 2022. Onteora is ranked 220th in New York State, the second highest among high schools in Ulster County.

Among the factors taken into account in Onteora’s ranking was the school’s Advanced Placement (AP) Exam participation rate, which is 44 percent, as well as its graduation rate (94 percent). The U.S. News & World Report’s “scorecard” for Onteora also took note that mathematics proficiency among students stands at 90 percent, and reading proficiency at 91 percent.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Marystephanie Corsones is pleased, but not surprised, by the school’s ranking. “I know how dedicated the entire school community is in meeting the needs of our students,” she said. “The commitment of our staff to our students is demonstrated in all that they do each and every day. Our students are remarkable, and this honor is a true testament to their commitment and resilience.“

Onteora High School Principal Lance Edelman is thrilled that the High School has once again placed high on the list. “We’re so very proud of our students, who continue to impress us with their hard work, dedication, and perseverance,” he said. “We are also extremely proud of—and immensely grateful for—our faculty and staff, who are committed to raising the bar for all of our learners, while supporting each individual student’s goals.”

For more information, please visit this link:


Onteora Opens Online Kindergarten Registration




BOICEVILLE—If you have a child who will be eligible to enroll in Kindergarten in the Onteora Central School District next September, it’s time to register your child. The school district’s online Kindergarten registration system is now open.

To register online, parents or guardians should go to and click on “Registration & Displaced Families.” The link for online registration is in the middle of the page. Please be sure to choose the 2022-2023 school year.

Children who turn five on or before December 1, 2022 are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten beginning in September 2022. Current Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) students should simply update their already established registration.

            Once your child is completely registered, you will be contacted with an appointment for Kindergarten screening. Screening will take place during the week of June 6-10.

If you have any questions, you may contact Sharon Wood, Onteora’s District Registrar, by calling 845-657-6383 ext. 1023 or emailing




Onteora Middle School Honors New Members of National Jr. Honor Society






Twenty-three Onteora Middle School students were inducted into Onteora’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) during a candlelit ceremony on March 24.

The new inductees are: Gabrielle Alterio, Jasmine Barker, Juliet Barry, Aoife Bronston, Charles Denton, Abigail Elliott, Giuliana Frisenda, Connor Gierloff, Bernadette Hughes, Charlee Kennoch, Talula Kirschner, Foster Knoche, Sadie Konjas, Delilah Lieberman, Alexandra Lukowicz, Lucia McDonagh, Luc Millenson-Wilens, Reisa Reynolds, Makayla Robbins, Maxwell Scanlon, Jake Slater, Liliana Smith, and Andrew Umhey.

The new members were congratulated by Middle School Principal Jennifer O'Connor, who praised the students' skills in time management and perseverance, and told parents that it was their support that helped ensure their success.

Interim Superintendent Marystephanie Corsones also spoke to the inductees, stressing that their "small everyday actions" and "good choices and work habits” led to this moment.

In addition, Class of 2022 Valedictorian Joey Driscoll shared some words of wisdom with the honorees, encouraging them to "take advantage of every learning opportunity" that comes their way.

Faculty co-advisors Brian Schaffer and Corey Cavallaro noted that although students who achieve academic honors for two consecutive quarters are eligible to apply for membership, the NJHS is more than just an honor roll. “Applicants are also required to show leadership, citizenship, and community service involvement,” Mr. Schaffer explained. “In addition to school support activities, NJHS members conduct two major service projects each school year.”  

After several current members spoke about the honor society’s essential values of scholarship, leadership, service, character, and citizenship, each inductee was presented with their medal. The night ended with members—both new and old—reciting the NJHS pledge.

Phoenicia Students Restore, and Reimagine, School’s Iconic Eagle Sign








PHOENICIA—This winter, Phoenicia Elementary School students have been hard at work restoring their school’s iconic eagle sign, which had been created by local sign-maker Kurt Boyer 11 years ago. The students, inspired by their Social Studies lessons, have also added a few touches of their own to the original work.

“This project is part of a learning unit on symbolism,” said Karen Hadley, an Onteora teacher on special assignment who is helping Grade 2 and 3 classroom teachers weave Social Studies content into other subject areas. “This is the culminating civic action piece,” she explained. “Students are taking what they have learned and applying it to doing something good for the community.”

The civics project is being carried out in collaboration with Art teacher Danielle Payette, who has been guiding the young artists as they clean and retouch the sign. After years of exposure to the elements, the sign’s original paint was chipping and peeling, and the vibrant colors had faded. In some places, green lichen was growing.  

Prior to tackling the sign restoration, the students held classroom discussions focused on the question, “What symbol best represents the United States?” The students began by examining the American bald eagle. The symbol, they noted, is found on our nation’s money, is part of the Presidential Seal, and serves as the mascot of both the school district and Phoenicia Elementary School.

After cleaning and repainting the sign, the students brainstormed about what values are associated with the American eagle. They came up with words like “pride,” “strength,” and “community,” which they proceeded to paint around the sign’s borders.

In support of the project, Ms. Hadley also arranged to visit Mr. Boyer, video-recording the outing so students could enjoy a “virtual” field trip to his Phoenicia shop. The sign-maker expressed his pleasure in learning that the school, where his daughter had once been a student, was bringing new life to his old work.

            The student artists were excited to be doing something positive for their school community. “We’re giving the sign love—yeah, baby!” exclaimed Grade 2 student Connor Liverani. “I’m amazed that someone else made it, and it’s really cool to restore it,” said Grade 3 student Owen Reese.

                Other students expressed pride in being a part of their school’s history. “I look at this sign every day, and it gives me a proud feeling,” Grade 3 student Sidney Spire said. “It’s a very big responsibility—a once-in-a-lifetime experience!” added one of his classmates, Sloane Bailey.

Onteora’s multi-faceted approach to Social Studies is being guided by New York State Education Department’s Social Studies Toolkit (










Onteora Appoints Director of Physical Education, Athletics, and Health



BOICEVILLE—Onteora is pleased to announce the appointment of Ryan Naccarato as its new Director of Physical Education, Athletics, and Health. Naccarato, a resident of Kingston, was appointed by the Board of Education on December 7.

Naccarato, who expects to assume his new duties in early to mid-January, will be coming to Onteora from Blind Brook High School in Westchester, where he is currently serving as the Director of Health, Physical Education, Athletics, and Nursing.

“I’m super excited to be joining the Onteora school district and community,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work in such an amazing district with dedicated students and staff.” His goals, he said, will include increasing participation and opportunities for students to be involved and compete in athletics, developing a positive team culture that lays the foundation for organizational success, and teaching life lessons through athletics to set students up for success after graduation.

Naccarato’s previous positions include Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at Coxsackie-Athens High School, Dean of Students at Miller Middle School, Principal of Summer School at Kingston High School, and Physical Education teacher at RJK Middle School and Kingston High School.

The owner of Hudson Valley Ambition (an outdoor fitness organization), Naccarato also has extensive coaching experience. At Kingston High School, he led the Varsity Softball team to the Class AA Sectional Semifinals in 2019. He also served as head coach of Kingston’s JV Football and Modified Basketball teams, and as assistant coach of the Varsity Football team.

During his tenure as Varsity Softball coach for the Marlboro Central School District, the team achieved a number of honors, including being crowned Mid-Hudson Athletic League Divisional Champions (2018); Class B Section IX Champions (2017), and New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B State Champions (2016). He was named 2016 Class B Coach of the Year by the New York State Sportswriters Association and the Daily Freeman.

            Naccarato holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from the College at Brockport, a master’s degree in Sports Management from SUNY Cortland, and a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Canisius College. His professional certifications include School Building Leader/School District Leader (SBL/SDL), Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA), and Registered Athletic Administrator (RAA).

            Naccarato, a graduate of Kingston High School (where he was a standout football, baseball, and basketball player), is eager to start his new job at Onteora, which is a close neighbor of his hometown. “I am looking forward to coming back home to my family, friends, girlfriend, workout team, and community,” he said. “Onteora is an awesome district, and I’m looking forward to serving the students, staff, and community. Go, Eagles!”








New Social Studies Approach Introduced at Phoenicia and Woodstock Elementary Schools

PHOENICIA AND WOODSTOCK—Social Studies is being taught in a new way this year at Phoenicia and Woodstock Elementary Schools. Karen Hadley, an Onteora teacher on special assignment, is helping Grade 2 and 3 classroom teachers weave Social Studies content into other subject areas, like English Language Arts (ELA), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and Civics. 

The inquiry process, which involves students asking questions, examining sources, making discoveries, and drawing their own conclusions, is central to this new approach. “Students will be examining primary sources and evidence related to a focused question around New York State Standards-based content,” Ms. Hadley explained. “This taps into their natural curiosity to explore artifacts, maps, posters, images, musical recordings, and a wide variety of other first-hand accounts of events to construct meaning.”  

Guiding the approach are sample inquiries, or questions, found in the New York State Education Department’s Social Studies Resource Toolkit 

(, which Ms. Hadley helped develop as part of a 16-member team hired by the State in 2015-2016 to write inquiries for Grades K-12. 

One of these inquiries recently took center stage in Allison Mitchell’s Grade 2 classroom at Phoenicia, where students investigated the question, “What symbol best represents the United States?” The students began by examining the American bald eagle, which is found on our nation’s coins and dollar bills, is part of the Presidential Seal, and serves as Onteora’s official mascot. This led to conversations about how this symbol is used and what values are important to the students as citizens of the United States. 

It is important, Ms. Hadley stressed, to ask questions that have multiple possible answers, from multiple points of view. “So we are not going to debate whether or not climate change is real, for example, since it has been scientifically proven,” she said. “But we might ask a question like, ‘How can we begin to combat the effects of climate change?’ or ‘How can we address it better than we have been?’”  

At times, Ms. Hadley said, the teachers may be encouraging “gentle digging” into potentially controversial topics. “These topics exist, whether we are comfortable addressing them or not, and they will come out in our classrooms, one way or another,” she said. “So we might as well create a safe space for students to have some difficult conversations.” 

“The last piece of every inquiry is civic action,” Ms. Hadley continued. “Our hope is that students internalize each investigation, connecting with their hearts while also building content knowledge and historical thinking skills. Finally, students will identify a related problem in the community and take some form of civic action as informed participants to contribute toward a solution. This is how we grow educated citizens who want to participate in our democracy.”      

Civic action, Ms. Hadley said, might take the form of students starting a classroom recycling program, creating school spirit projects, donating clothes to refugees, conducting a book drive for children affected by a natural disaster, or hosting a community celebration of some sort. “We’ll keep our eye on current events and make every effort to pair our learning with meaningful opportunities for the students to make a difference,” she promised. 

In undertaking this initiative, Ms. Hadley said, the teachers have the support of New York State, Onteora administrators, the Board of Education, and the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility (which supports Onteora’s efforts in the area of SEL). “And we are working on outreach to parents and the community proactively to inform and include their voices in the discussion as well,” she added. 

Stephanie Laffin, Onteora’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, is pleased with the new approach, which is being piloted in Grades 2 and 3 this year, with plans to expand and integrate it in every K-6 classroom in the future. “We are excited to make Ms. Hadley’s experience and expertise available to support our K-3 instructional staff as we work to integrate instruction into Social Studies, Social and Emotional Learning, Literacy, and Civic Readiness,” she said.





Phoenicia Students Learn About Community and Community Building


PHOENICIA—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 Ms. Hull to help her class celebrate “Community Weeks,” which are taking place in her classroom from October 11-30.

“Our other guests have included members of the U.S. military, and in a few weeks we will meet members of our local fire department,” Ms. 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, Ms. Hull’s students will learn about the differences between 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, Ms. 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.










Bennett Art Project Infused with History, Science, Sustainability

 BOICEVILLE—At Bennett Elementary School, students are immersed in a multifaceted art project that incorporates elements of science, history, literature, and environmentalism.

Onteora Art teacher Roberta Ziemba is collaborating with Beth Humphrey, Director of Education & Public Programs at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), to teach students how to create drawings using inks made from locally foraged materials like acorn caps and goldenrod. The students’ work, which depicts fantastical landscapes, will be showcased at WAAM from November 19-December 31.

During a recent class, Grade 5 students were working with a dark brown ink made from acorn caps. The nuts had been collected by students at home (and in some cases on the school’s Nature Trail), and then crushed by volunteers who hammered them during recess. Ms. Ziemba added water, boiled the extract, and stirred in gum arabic and ferrous sulphate (a type of iron). The production process, she told the students, demonstrated how science can play an integral role in art.

To inspire the young artists, Ms. Humphrey gave a slideshow of ink drawings from the WAAM collection, including landscapes by Alf Evers and Conrad Kramer, pointing out how the artists used ink, lines, and brushstrokes to create certain effects or a particular atmosphere.

Afterwards, Ms. Ziemba shared some of the long history of natural inks. Oak gall ink, she noted, was used in historical documents like the American Declaration of Independence as well as by renowned authors like the Bronte sisters.

“There is a long history of artists coming to our area because of the resources we have here,” Ms. Ziemba added. “We are expanding on that history.”

Reducing waste and promoting sustainability are major concerns of Ms. Ziemba, who aims to meet New York State Learning Standards in an environmentally sustainable way. “That’s why we are making our own ink from local materials, rather than using markers encased in plastic,” she said. In another example of recycling, feathers found on the school grounds are fashioned by Ms. Ziemba into quills, which the students can use to apply ink to paper.

In the same vein, earlier in the school year, Ms. Ziemba sought out wood scraps from local woodworkers, which the students used to make fanciful dragon sculptures. Her ultimate goal, she says, is to create a “reduced waste” Art classroom.

Ms. Humphrey finds the Bennett project to be personally rewarding. “It’s exciting for me to examine our collection in a new light in terms of materials and sustainability and working with teachers. I am learning too!”





Onteora Musician Performs at Carnegie Hall




BOICEVILLE—Onteora violinist Joey Driscoll recently traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York City, where she performed as a guest soloist for the charity organization Music For Change. Joey, a senior at Onteora High School, performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s “2nd Partita in D minor for solo violin.” The performance took place on October 9.

According to High School Orchestra Director Erica L. Boyer, Joey submitted an audition video in early September. On the basis of that audition, she was among the lucky students selected to perform on the legendary Carnegie Hall stage.

Joey, who is one of Mrs. Boyer’s students, was thrilled to be chosen. “I didn’t fully believe that I was actually going to have this amazing opportunity to perform until receiving my backstage entrance pass!” exclaimed the young musician, adding that she was happy with how her performance went. “I was able to play confidently without making any mistakes,” she said. “And walking onto the stage alone felt so surreal!” 

The Carnegie Hall experience, Joey believes, was the culmination of her musical journey thus far. “That’s because ‘younger Joey’ would have been amazed that she even had the confidence to audition, much less set foot onto that stage,” she explained. “I am very proud of how confident I have become as a violinist.” 

Joey is currently the Concert Mistress of the Onteora High School Orchestra and Onteora Chamber Ensemble. She will also be performing at the 2021 Area All-State Festival in Newburgh on November 20, and the Conference All-State Music Festival on December 5 in Rochester.  







Onteora Football Coach Defies Gender Expectations

BOICEVILLE—When it comes to coaching football, women are relatively rare. But that didn’t stop Onteora Middle School teacher Lori Matteson from stepping forward to help coach the modified football team this fall, after having served on the varsity football coaching staff last spring.

Matteson does have extensive coaching experience, having previously coached field hockey and girls basketball at Onteora, as well as youth soccer and Little League teams. An accomplished athlete, she played basketball and softball while attending Onteora High School and softball while attending SUNY Ulster. That said, she didn’t initially jump at the chance to coach football, a sport she has never played. “I love the sport—we are a football family—but I never thought I’d be coaching it,” said Matteson.  

Her football-coaching journey last spring, when the school district was considering bringing back varsity sports after a COVID-related pause. “My husband and I really believed that kids really needed to do sports again for their social and emotional and physical health, and we wanted to be part of making it happen,” she said. Both she and her husband (Eric, a local contractor) joined the varsity coaching staff, which also included Andrew Occhi and Head Coach Mike Liverani. “We played in the spring, and it was great,” recalled Matteson. 

Matteson’s role for the varsity team primarily focused on COVID-compliance measures intended to ensure that the players could compete safely. “I was taking the athletes’ temperatures, and being very motherly,” she recalled. She also took on some of the injury-related tasks usually handled by an athletic trainer. “At the end of the season, the boys very sweetly gave me a T-shirt that said ‘Coach Mom Matteson’” she laughed. “I earned that T-shirt!” 

This year, as one of two modified football coaches (she works alongside Head Coach Todd Faulkner), her role is more strategic. “Now I’m sitting around the kitchen table at night talking with my husband, planning defenses,” she said. “It’s a different world. I also watch a lot of YouTube videos!”

Safety is as much of a priority as strategy, Matteson pointed out. Temperatures are still being taken before practices and games, and masks are being worn when the athletes are indoors. When practicing outdoors, the athletes are grouped into “pods” to facilitate contact tracing, should the need arise. When listening to their coaches, the players “circle up” rather than line up, so they can easily hear instructions and advice without crowding together. The players also bring their own water bottles, and do not share equipment (except for the ball). 

The modified football team’s 18 players, including her own two sons, treat her with respect, said Matteson. “The boys don’t treat me any differently than they would treat a male coach,” she said. “If I say anything, they immediately say, ‘Yes, Coach!’ “she reported.

Among her fans is team member Conner Avery, who is in Grade 8. “As a coach, she’s pretty amazing,” he said. “She’s also helped me in the classroom, making sure that I get my work done.”

Head Coach Faulkner is also full of praise for Matteson. “She’s great. She’s in this for the kids. They love her,” he said. Although he has the head coach title, Matteson could just as easily fill that role, he suggested. 

Although learning to coach a new sport has been challenging to Matteson, it’s a challenge she happily tackled once she realized there was a shortage of coaching applicants this year. “I’ve got 18 willing kids wanting to play football, how could I not answer that call?” she said. “It’s been super fun. I’m glad I’m doing it!”









Onteora Alumna Kaleigh Garraffa Publishes Novel




BOICEVILLE—Kaleigh Garraffa, the author of Las Locas: the Madwomen, credits her Onteora teachers and community with helping her to realize her dream of becoming a writer. She also credits the pandemic, which interrupted her in-person studies at Marist College, with giving her more time to devote to her passion. 

The Mount Tremper resident, who graduated from Marist in 2021 with a double major in Communications and Spanish with a minor in Creative Writing, describes her first novel as a mystery set during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War (1976-1983), when thousands of Argentinians were kidnapped and killed by right-wing and military death squads. Among those who disappeared were many pregnant women, whose babies were secretly adopted. Grandmothers of the missing children, labeled “madwomen” by some, organized public protests to draw attention to their plight.

Kaleigh, whose mother hails from the Dominican Republic, has long been interested in Spanish and Latin American culture, an interest that was also nurtured by Onteora Spanish teacher Elena Garcia (who retired last year). “I was also in the Spanish Club with Mrs. Garcia,” she recalled.  

Kaleigh also fondly recalls a Creative Writing class taught by English teacher Bridget Allison. “It helped me get into fiction, memoirs, and poetry,” she explained. “I fell in love with all of them.” English teacher Erin McGurgan (now retired) was also influential. “She was a great teacher, and helped me cultivate my love of writing,” Kaleigh said.

To help bring her book into the world, Kaleigh turned to Creator Institute, a program founded by a Georgetown University professor to aid fledgling writers. The program connected her to editors and mentors, helping her to shepherd her book from outline to completed manuscript to the marketplace.

Needing to raise money to cover printing costs, Kaleigh turned to Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website. The response was overwhelming. “It was super heartwarming how many of my family members, friends, community members, and even strangers helped me reach my goal of publishing my book,” she said. In addition to the satisfaction of helping an aspiring writer, would-be supporters were offered inducements like signed copies of the book, and tarot card readings conducted by the author.

Kaleigh is currently planning a book tour. She’s also written the outline and a few chapters for a sequel to Las Locas, and has her eyes open for a job in publishing, preferably in New York City.

Wherever she ends up, Kaleigh won’t forget her Onteora roots. “Onteora is a great school district,” she said. “All of the teachers and staff are so welcoming, and everyone is so helpful. I was really prepared for college!”






Onteora’s Simon Rands and Lucciana Robertson Named

MHAL Senior Scholar-Athletes


Simon Rands and Lucciana Robertson were named this year’s Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL) Senior Scholar-Athlete Award recipients for Onteora High School.  

Simon, who is Valedictorian of Onteora’s Class of 2021, was a member of the Varsity Soccer, Tennis, and Track & Field teams. His athletic accomplishments include serving as captain of the Varsity Soccer team since his sophomore year, being honored as Athlete of the Month in September 2019, and being named to the Section IX, Class B Soccer All-Star Team in 2019.

Simon’s extracurricular activities include serving as vice president of the National Honor Society and copy editor of the school newspaper (The Talon), participating in Science Olympiad, and volunteering for the Ulster Immigrant Defense Network.

Simon will be attending Tufts University, where he plans to focus on Environmental Studies.

Lucciana, who has accepted an athletic scholarship from SUNY Binghamton, is ranked 32nd in her class. Onteora’s school record holder in the High Jump, Lucciana qualified for the New York State (NYS) Championships in that event three times, twice for Spring Track (2018 and 2019) and once for Winter Track (2020). She jumped to a second-place finish in the State meet in 2019, earning a trip to Nationals. At the 2020 NYS Winter Track championships, she came in third, again qualifying for Nationals.

Lucciana’s additional athletic accomplishments include making three trips to States with Onteora’s Cross-Country team, running with Onteora’s 4 by 8 relay team at the 2018 NYS Track & Field Championships, being named to the 2019-2020 All Star Team in Girls Basketball, and being honored with one of this year’s Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL) Senior Scholar-Athlete Awards.

Lucciana has also excelled outside of sports, qualifying for New York State’s Seal of Biliteracy, serving as a member of the National Honor Society, and holding down a part-time job at Dietz Stadium Diner in Kingston.


Onteora Senior Wins State Culinary Competition, Qualifies for Nationals

  Onteora senior Stefan Frasca of Olivebridge, a second-year student in the Ulster BOCES Culinary Arts Program, came in first place in the Culinary Arts   category at the New York State SkillsUSA championships. The event was held on April 14 via livestream in front of four judges.

  For winning first place in the New York State SkillsUSA’s Culinary Arts competition, he will be receiving $3,000 a year towards his tuition at the Culinary    Institute of America (CIA), an amount that is renewable as long as he maintains a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher at the CIA. His first-place win also qualifies him to compete for additional scholarship money at the upcoming National SkillsUSA Culinary Arts competition, which will take place (again via livestream) on June 24.

The State championships, explained Ulster BOCES Culinary Arts instructor Irene Powell, featured 16 contestants competing in knife cuts, chicken fabrication, and the preparation of a soup, an appetizer, and an entrée. “Contestants were scored on sanitation, safety, knife skills, cooking methods, technique, creative plating, tasting, and proper uniform,” she said.

            Discussing the State and national events, Stefan said, “I am excited to be representing New York State at nationals, and happy that my parents got to see me win the New York competition.”

According to Powell, “Stefan is a leader among his fellow culinary students. They all look up to him as someone who is driven in his culinary ambition.” Stefan already demonstrates the skill set and aptitude to be successful in the culinary field, she believes. “He is extremely focused on his career but most importantly, his genuine kindness toward others and his need to assist fellow classmates will take him a long way in this industry,” she said.

Stefan, who aspires to become a chef and a restaurant owner, currently holds a job at Tetta’s Market and Pizzeria in Olivebridge. “We make our own sauce and our own dough, and we use fresh ingredients,” he observed.

Stefan appreciates the specialized, career-oriented education he has been receiving through Ulster BOCES, and credits the Culinary Arts Program’s chef/instructors and his various culinary mentors with helping him to be accepted by the CIA. “Ulster BOCES has definitely jump-started my career in the culinary arts,” he declared. “I want to thank all of my chefs, as well as my co-workers at Tetta’s.”

Speaking on behalf of herself and fellow Culinary Arts Program instructors Justin Nahow and Elise Macur as well as Chef/Culinary Consultant John Griffin (Stefan’s mentor for the SkillsUSA competition), Powell said, “We are proud to work with Stefan to help him in his culinary journey.”

SkillsUSA brings together students, teachers, and industry professionals with the aim of ensuring that the United States has a skilled workforce. For more information on SkillsUSA, visit



Onteora High Jumper Signs National Letter of Intent to
Attend SUNY Binghamton



BOICEVILLE—Onteora High School Grade 12 student Lucciana Robertson has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend SUNY Binghamton, a Division 1 school, on an athletic scholarship. Lucciana, who was recruited to compete in the High Jump, signed the letter on April 29 during a festive ceremony attended by family members as well as Onteora teammates, coaches, teachers, administrators, and staff.

Although a number of Division I schools expressed interest in recruiting Lucciana, she was particularly impressed by the Track & Field program at SUNY Binghamton. “I like the motivation that everyone has on the team, and how dedicated the coach is,” she explained. 

Speaking before the signing ceremony, Kim Pilla, Onteora’s Director of Physical Education, Athletics, and Health and Dean of Students, shared a few words about the student-athlete. “Lucciana is kind, compassionate, tenacious, and has an incredible work ethic,” she said. “She is a true leader, and she is super cool. We are all going to miss her!”

Physical Education teacher and Head Varsity Track Coach Patrick Burkhardt, who coached Lucciana in Cross-Country, noted that Lucciana’s personal best for the High Jump (5 feet, 6 inches) shattered the previous school record, which had stood for more than 25 years. “She is the fourth Onteora track kid to go to SUNY Binghamton to compete in Track & Field,” he added.

Lucciana, the daughter of Brian Robertson and Onteora Math teacher Jessica Morra, qualified for the New York State (NYS) Championships in High Jump three times, twice for Spring Track (2018 and 2019) and once for Winter Track (2020). She jumped to second place in the State meet in 2019, earning a trip to Nationals. At the 2020 NYS Winter Track championships, she came in third, qualifying for the National competition, which was ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19.

Lucciana’s additional athletic accomplishments include making three trips to States with Onteora’s Cross-Country team, running with Onteora’s 4 by 8 relay team at the 2018 NYS Track & Field Championships, being named to the 2019-2020 All Star Team in Girls Basketball, and being honored with one of this year’s Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL) Senior Scholar-Athlete Awards.

September 29, 2022​

Dear Onteora High School Families,

It was nice to see and speak with so many parents at last week’s Open House, as well as this past weekend’s Homecoming events. I would like to thank the students from our National Honor Society who assisted with Open House. The Athletic Department, Athletic Council, and Onteora Booster Club worked hard and organized a successful Homecoming. Our students are also to be commended for showing their school support and for supporting their fellow students. We are grateful to the community for sharing this day with us.

I would like to share with you the following information:

We have seen an uptick in the number of student absences due to illness. Please remember, COVID-19 symptoms may appear two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus and include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If your student experiences any of these symptoms, please keep them home from school and closely monitor them. Consult with your student’s doctor for advice whenever needed. We continue to urge vigilance and responsibility.

Please report absences to the health office by sending an email to Select this link for information about what to do if your child tests positive for COVID-19.

Electronic Devices
We appreciate everyone’s support with our personal electronic device guidelines. Despite a few challenges, we are experiencing positive results. Our teachers have noticed that students are more focused, engaged, and are demonstrating better social skills (e.g., conversing appropriately with peers, maintaining eye contact, etc.). The few incidents that we have had appear to be the result of the students choosing to not place their phones in the classroom caddies or their backpacks. Students who decide to keep their phones out of sight on their person appear to become distracted and feel compelled to check their phones, especially when they vibrate. We will continue to encourage students to either utilize the classroom caddies or leave their devices off in their backpacks. However, your support is greatly appreciated. For your consideration, feel free to read this linked recent article that I shared with our faculty.

In an effort to promote responsible online behaviors, we are having a teacher deliver various lessons to students through their social studies classrooms throughout the year. This week, the teacher will begin pushing into ninth-grade classes. Additional information will follow.

School Safety
We are continuing to hold various safety drills, such as fire drills, lockdown drills, and hold-in-place drills. Please know that although these drills seem routine, we take them seriously. Our school safety team is in place and we will continue to review and modify our safety procedures as necessary. We are grateful to our School Resource Officer, Deputy Sharon, for being an active member of our team. His insight into our procedures has been invaluable.

We are very fortunate to be able to offer an abundance of clubs and activities to our students. Most of our clubs are now up and running and will be working with students to determine the best days for their members to meet. We will continue to update our online club calendar as well as promote clubs via posters in the hallways.

Upcoming Calendar Events
October 5:   School Closed - Yom Kippur
October 7:   5 Week Mark of Quarter 1 (Progress reports will be available on 10/12 on the portal)
October 10: School Closed - Indigenous People’s Day
October 12:  PSATs during school
October 19:  School Closed - Professional Development Day

Thank you.

Lance Edelman
HS Principal