More District News

OFA Odyssey Team
Finishes 6th at Worlds

esults are in, and our kids placed 6th in the world!

The team received an honorable mention, tying for 6th in a field of 54.

The OFA team is: Christa Bennett, Alexis Brink, Morgan Franklin, Grant Lindhörst, Eliana Starr, Daniel Wolfe and Martha Wolfe. The team adviser is Patty Wolfe.

Here were the results in their performance category:

1. Rockford Michigan
2. Atlanta, Georgia
3. Singapore
4. Mooresville, North Carolina
5. Charlotte, North Carolina
6. (tie) Owego, New York, and Potsdam, Germany

Curatolo Celebrated for Community Service
(MAY 2013)
- OFA's Kat Curatolo was featured on WBNG as one of 28 Student Community Service Award winners presented by Sen. Thomas Libous (R-23rd), BOCES and WBNG-TV.

2013 Inductees Announced;
Dinner/Ceremony Tickets Available
The 2013 inductees are:

Matthew Porcari
OFA Class of 1997
Student, Athlete, Volunteer
Excellent Role Model

George Truesdail
OFA Class of 1961
Student, Volunteer, Elected Official
Recognized Community Leader

The event will be held on Wednesday, June 19, at Owego Free Academy. Appetizers will be at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., and the presentation ceremony at 6:45 p.m.

The cost is $30 per person, and the entrée choices are chicken cordon bleu or vegetable lasagna.

Please call Janet Kline at 687-6227 for additional information.

U.S. News & World Report:
OFA Ranks
Among Best High Schools,
in Top 9.3 Percent in United States

(MAY 3) - In a recent U.S. News and World Report article, Owego Free Academy was ranked by the publication as the 159th best high school in New York state, when looking at student-to-teacher ratio, college readiness, math and English average proficiency scores and performance of low-income students.

OFA ranked in the top 14 percent in the state among 1,149 schools that were included in the report. Only the top 176 schools in New York state were ranked by number.

U.S. News also ranked schools nationwide, and OFA’s placement was even higher – in the top 9.3 percent of about 21,000 schools ranked. OFA ranked 1,953rd of those schools.

As a result of this distinction, OFA will receive a “U.S. News and World Report Best High Schools Silver Award” badge, which OA will display on the district’s Web site.

New York ranked second nationally - behind only California - in the number of gold medal high schools. U.S. News and World Report, which collected and evaluated data on more than 21,000 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia, awarded 65 gold medals to public high schools in New York. California, meanwhile, is home to 94. (Nebraska was the only state not to report data.)

OFA’s ranking in New York state stresses overall test performance, performance of disadvantaged (low-income) students, and relies heavily on participation and performance in Advanced Placement tests, said Dr. Bill Russell, OA superintendent.

“This validates my comments at our last Board of Education meeting about AP tests becoming the coin of the realm,” Dr. Russell said. “At the No. 1 high school in the nation (on this ranking), students averaged 13.5 AP exams, which is incredible.”

The study shows that OFA has a 98 percent proficiency in English and a 95 percent proficiency in math. OFA scored particularly well on the performance of its “disadvantaged (low-income)” students, 92.5 percent of whom were proficient, trailing their more affluent peers by only 4.5 percentage points. The study also showed that OFA students who took AP exams had an 85 percent passing rate.

“To achieve a top-10 percent ranking among the best high schools in the nation is a real accomplishment and a genuine source of pride for our students and their families, as well as for our teachers and other staff,” Dr. Russell said. “Our students work hard, and we have a fine teaching staff. This Silver Award certainly acknowledges all of their great efforts.”

The study by U.S. News comes on the heels of a nationwide report issued by the independent publication, Education Week, which ranked New York's public-education system third best in the nation behind only Maryland and Massachusetts. The U.S. News report follows, too, a Newsweek/The Daily Beast study released last year that found New York state was home to 10 percent of the nation's top public high schools.

Three other school districts in this region also received high rankings. Vestal was 94
th in New York state, Johnson City was 126th and Norwich was 170th.

to see the rankings online.

OFA Interact Club Donates to Sandy Relief
(APRIL 2013) - Jennifer Brink (OFA Class of 2006), a representive of the American Red Cross, was at the high school April 23 to accept a check for $1,037 to aid in Hurricane Sandy Relief. The funds were accumulated by the OFA Interact Club through sa handful of fundraising efforts, such as the Precise Ball-Tossing Tournament, a Dance-A-Thon (and Kathy Starks and Laura Coppens spearheaded the "Teach Peace" shirt sale). Owego Rotary was a huge supporter and donator as well, along with OFA staff and students. Tom Westcott, OFA guidance counselor and Interact Club adviser, was also on hand for the presentation.

OA Schools Receive Additional State Aid
MARCH 2013 -
The Owego-Apalachin School District will be receiving an increase of more than a million dollars. Superintendent Bill Russell says the increases in state aid are good sign for the future.

"I think it’s terrific. We've been through nearly four orfive years of sharply declining state aid. It started to recover last year. This year, it’s a big boost. And I'm very hopeful, as I told my board when I presented our budget proposal last week, this marks a real turn around in the fortunes of public schools in New York State as the economy overall begins to recover," Russell said.

Children's African Choir Visits OA
MARCH 2013 - The African Children's Choir paid a visit to OA Schools on Thuursday, March 14, sharing their stories and talents with several students from the district.

* FOX 40 STORY (with video)

OFA Odyssey Team
Qualifies for Worlds in Michigan
(MARCH 2013)
Check out this YNN report (with video, if you subscribe).
And here is theFox 40 report (with video).

OFA's Laurel Neira Signs With ESU

FEBRUARY 2013 - Owego Free Academy's Laurel Neira has signed a letter of commitment to play soccer for Division II East Stroudsburg University.

The OFA senior has been a starting defender on the varsity soccer team since her freshman year. She has been a member of two sectional title-winning teams, and one STAC championship team, as well as being part of four division titles.

Neira has been named all-conference three times, and all-division twice.

Laurel Neira is the daughter of Diane Neira and Lou Neira (pictured above).

East Stroudsburg University's women's soccer team went 10-5-5 last fall, with an 8-3-3 conference record. Common opponents of the Warriors include: Mansfield, Mercyhurst, Kutztown, IUP (Indiana, Pa.), Gannon and Shippensburg.


Joe Shambo Achieves
National Board Certification

JANUARY 2013 - Joe Shambo, kindergarten teacher at Owego Elementary School, recently completed all requirements to become a nationally board certified teacher. Shambo spoke about his accomplishment and was recognized by the OA Board of Education at the last board meeting.

Shambo is just the second teacher currently working for OA Schools who has achieved National Board Certification status. The other teacher is OFA English teacher Tonya Alexander, who received the certification in November 2009.

As of April 2012, just over 1,300 teachers across New York state have achieved National Board Certification.

"This is a long process, with lots of work involved, and it's through his outstanding work that Joe Shambo has accomplished this achievement," said Dr. Bill Russell, OA superintendent, during a recent board meeting. "I want our board members and everyone to know that this is one of the highest honors for teachers in the United States, and we're very proud."

The mission of the National Board is to advance student learning and achievement by establishing the definitive standards and systems for certifying accomplished educators, providing programs and advocating policies that support excellence in teaching and leading, and engaging National Board Certified teachers and leaders in that process.

National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential. It complements, but does not replace, a state’s teacher license. It is valid for 10 years, and renewal candidates must begin the renewal process during their eighth or ninth years as NBCTs.

National Board Certification is achieved upon successful completion of a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do. National Board Certification is available nationwide for most teachers in levels Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.

As part of the certification process, candidates complete 10 assessments that are reviewed by trained teachers in their certificate areas. The assessments include four portfolio entries that feature teaching practice and six constructed response exercises that assess content knowledge.


OA's APPR OK'd by State
JANUARY 2013 - OA's Annual Professional Performance Review Plan (APPR)


Two OFA Singers Selected
2013 NAfME All-Eastern Ensembles;
Performance Scheduled for April in Hartford, CT

April 4-7, 2013, Hartford, Connecticut: More than 780 of the most musically talented high school students in the Eastern region of the United States have been selected to perform in the 2013 NAfME All-Eastern Honors Ensembles.

Selected to perform in the All-Eastern Honors Mixed Chorus are the following students from Owego Free Academy in Owego, NY:
Lauren Dewey-Wright – Soprano I (OFA senior)
Martha Wolfe – Alto II (OFA junior)

With assistance from their music teacher, OFA's Jennifer Henion, these exceptional students will prepare remarkably challenging music that they will perform under the leadership of prominent conductors in this biennial event. Students will spend three days rehearsing with one of four conductors during the Eastern Division Conference of The National Association for Music Education to be held in Hartford, Connecticut in preparation for performances on April 7, 2013.

The NAfME All-Eastern Honors Ensembles, consisting of a concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed chorus, treble voice chorus, and jazz ensemble, are organized by members of The National Association for Music Education. The concert band and symphony orchestra will each have approximately one hundred fifty instrumentalists, the jazz ensemble will have twenty instrumentalists, the treble voice chorus will have one hundred twenty vocalists, and the mixed chorus will have approximately three hundred fifty vocalists. Student participation from each state is determined by a percentage of the total NAfME Eastern Division membership, with no state given less than two percent representation.

Each of the state music educators associations in the Eastern Division (CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI, PA, VT, Europe) oversee the selection process in their state during the Spring and early Fall of the year before the event and compile ranked lists of recommended juniors and seniors for consideration. The method used to compile the lists varies from state to state, although all recommended students must have participated (or will be participating in) their home all-state festivals.


OA Elementary Schools
Receive Award
for School Lunches


In early December 2012, Tom Nunn, food service director for Owego Apalachin schools, was at Apalachin Elementary School where he spoke about the award with reporters from WBNG and Fox 40. Students at AES were also interviewed by the reporters.

he Healthier U.S. School Challenge Award (HUSSC) is a recognition award for schools which have demonstrated a commitment to excellence to both nutrition and physical education to promote a healthier school environment for children.
"It is a wonderful accomplishment for the Food Service Department, the students, the school district and the state of New York," wrote Pamela Griffin, program specialist, School Nutrition Programs, Northeast Region, in a letter to the district. "I thank you for your leadership and I would also like to thank and acknowledge your staff for all of their working during the application process. You will receive a formal written acknowledgment of the award from the USDA."
Each OA elementary school has received a plaque and a banner, and will receive $500.


Family Reading Partnership of Owego Apalachin
2nd Annual BookFest a Huge Success


(In this photo album, you'll find the work of OFA art students, pieces that were accompanied by stories for the November 10 Family Reading Partnership annual Book Fest. The students are members of OFA art teacher Sue Camin's classes. (Camin is pictured in some of these photos.)


Project T.O.Y. at OA Schools
Some OA students are spending lots of time in the "shop" making toys. It's a part of a special holiday project to help kids who are in the hospital.

Santa's workshop has its elves but kids at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital will have a different group to thank this holiday season.



OA Schools Ranked 3rd Academically
Across Five-County Upstate Region,
According to Buffalo-Based Business Magazine


A Buffalo-based business magazine has ranked the Owego Apalachin school district third in a five-county, nearly 40-district region in the area of academics.

Business First also ranked OA Schools in the top 30 percent in the category of administrative efficiency.

Business First issues annual academic rankings for public school districts across Upstate New York. These ratings reflect the collective performance of each district’s public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Forty-eight areas of New York are broken into eight markets. Owego Apalachin is included in a market the publication has labeled Binghamton-Elmira Area,” and it includes 39 school districts across Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware and Tioga counties.

“Business First does a sophisticated job of analyzing school performance data,” said Dr. Bill Russell, OA superintendent of schools. “For example, they use four years of academic performance for their rankings, not just a single-year snapshot.

"I’m very proud of our students, teachers and administrators for their very strong showing in the rankings this year.It takes a lot of hard, consistent, high-quality work to be ranked among the very top schools in the region."

The Business First rating formula awards 10 percent for a district’s graduation rate, 50 percent for high school students’ performance on Regents exams in 13 subjects, and the final 40 percent is based on 10 elementary and middle school tests.

For a full description of the ranking criteria and scoring methodology, see THIS LINK.

OA Schools also ranked highly in the area of administrative efficiency, ranking 126th out of 430 Upstate school districts.They were assessed in three areas:
* Spending per pupil.
* The ratio of pupils per administrative staffer, a group that includes all district-office employees, principals and assistant principals.
* The share of the district budget devoted to debt service.

“We work hard to keep our administrative costs under control,” Dr. Russell added.“This ranking, in the top tier of all upstate school districts, validates that effort.”

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