Gowanda School Board recognizes students, retirees

Submitted Photo Alicia Pszczola won Best 3-Dimensional Artwork and a $2,000 scholarship for her piece “the Looking Glass.”

GOWANDA — From Gowanda graduates serving in the military to elementary school teachers retiring in June, there was much to celebrate at a recent meeting of the Gowanda Central School Board of Education.

English teacher Cathleen Perry kicked off the meeting with a special gift sent by Capt. Nathan Jolls, a 2006 Gowanda graduate who is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force. Recently, elementary, middle and high school teachers put together a “cheer package” to send to him while he is serving in Afghanistan. The cheer package included gifts from the school, including a Gowanda blanket and baseball cap from his former baseball coach. “Our cheer package came on the very best of days because they had latrine duty,” Perry added.

In response, Jolls sent the school a flag and a certificate that explained where the flag had flown on a mission in Afghanistan. “A gift such as this needs recognition,” said Perry. “We have Gowanda grads out there doing good things, wonderful things: protecting us, protecting our freedom.”

Perry went on to explain that she would like to take advantage of a showcase on the main drive between the two school buildings to showcase Gowanda graduates who are serving the community and “doing all kinds of good in the world.”

Two Gowanda parents came forward to share their own Gowanda graduates’ careers in the military. Board members voiced their support of the idea, as did Superintendent Dr. Robert Anderson, who asked Perry to provide him with information to create an agenda item for the next board meeting.

Submitted Photo Julianna Grudzien received honorable mention and a $1,000 scholarship for her “Empty Bowls.”

During the administrators’ reports portion of the meeting, Rebecca Moraites, high school principal, was pleased to share the success of high school art students who entered their work at the juried All High Exhibition hosted by Daemen College last month. Three students took home a total of $6,000 in scholarship awards. Lily Redeye was awarded best in show and a $3,000 scholarship for her portrait “My Dad”; Alicia Pszczola was awarded best 3-dimensional artwork and a $2,000 scholarship for her piece, “the Looking Glass;” and Julianna Grudzien received honorable mention and a $1,000 scholarship for her piece, “Empty Bowls.”

“I’m really proud of the students who won the scholarships,” said Moraites, who explained that the art department had restructured its program to meet new standards. Art teachers Caey Mohr and Heather Rydzik have been at the helm of the shift from traditional discipline-based art education to the new TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behaviors) approach that allows multiple courses to occur at the same time, in the same room. Moraites pointed out that Gowanda’s art department is at the forefront of this shift in instruction and that recently districts including Allegany-Limestone, Cassadaga Valley, Eden and Fredonia have approached Gowanda as a model for this new curriculum.

In Elementary School Principal Carrie Dzierba’s report, she recognized three teachers in her building who will be retiring at the end of the school year: Shelley Dolce (kindergarten), Maria Steuernagel (first grade) and Theresa Tonello (special education). “I would like to express my deepest appreciation for my three retirees,” Dzierba stated. “These are probably some of the best educators that I’ve worked with. It’s going to be a very sad day when it is the last day that they are in my building. I wish them the very best, and they deserve it after many, many years of being such great educators. We’ve been really blessed to have them.”

The next meeting of the Gowanda Central School Board of Education is Wednesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. in the middle school library.

Submitted Photo Pictured here are examples of the unit work from Gowanda Central School art department’s new TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behaviors) curriculum.