Paws for success

Carving out a niche for students in Cassadaga

Submitted photo Below: From left, Teacher Jill Patterson, students David Martinez, Armando Arce, Emiliee Kelley, Nathan Lester, Maggie Rowicki, Devon Luczkowiak, Karli Campaign, chainsaw artist Vince Liuzzo of Tactical Tree Solutions of Jamestown, school counselor Alissa Madden and building administrator Kyle Yelich gather around the new grizzly bear mascot (also right and above) of the Academy at Maple Avenue in Cassadaga.

Special to the OBSERVER

CASSADAGA — The Academy at Maple Avenue in Cassadaga, part of the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, opened its doors in September 2016. The inaugural student body chose a grizzly bear as its mascot earlier this year and the Student Council held fundraisers to purchase a chainsaw carving of it to display in the school lobby.

“It is important to have an identity and a mascot to attach our program to, specifically the grizzly because of the characteristics that a grizzly possess: intelligence, kinship, strength and devotion,” said Kyle Yelich, building administrator and pupil personnel specialist. “All of our students possess these qualities and, much like a grizzly, sometimes our kids have to dig deep to find their true potential.”

“The grizzly represents family, tenacity, fierceness and a steadfast resolve,” said Principal Kevin Bourgoine. “These are all characteristics that our students possess and demonstrate as they travel their pathway to academic success.”

The mascot was carved out of a tree trunk by chainsaw artist Vince Liuzzo of Tactical Tree Solutions in Jamestown and delivered June 7 to the school. The Academy at Maple Avenue also held a friendly logo and school colors competition. Students and staff submitted designs and then the student body voted on them. The logo selected was designed by teaching assistant Zen Baltes and the new school colors are maroon and silver.

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