ECS-board-membersBy Jann Wiswall 

As is normal at this time of year, there’s a lot of energy at Ellicottville’s elementary, middle and high schools as the holidays, winter break and end of year academic goals approach.

During the school board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, ECS Superintendent Mark Ward listed a number of activities that have taken place in the past several weeks. The December issue of the school newsletter is out, 375 people attended the recent Sports Banquet, the PTO held its elementary school Fun Night, and the school was expecting a great turnout for the holiday banquet for area senior citizens on Dec. 4.

Ward said that students at all grade levels are in the midst of numerous community-oriented holiday activities. Project Christmas, a food and gift drive that helps some 40 needy families (and more than 100 children) in the area, as well as more than 60 deserving senior citizens, is going very well this year, Ward said. He gave special thanks to Tops Markets for its help in making provisions available at a considerable discount.

While Project Christmas is a school-community partnership, ECS students are putting a lot of time and dedication into the project. All middle and high school grades are doing their own food drives, and several elementary classes are collecting and counting pennies for the cause.

“There’s some friendly competition going on between classes,” Ward said, which adds to the fun and gets results.

Ward said that he broached the subject of a possible merger of Ellicottville’s varsity football team with another school at the Sports Banquet in November. The rationale for a potential merger, he explained, is to keep the team and its individual athletes competitive. Ward noted that school partnerships are developing all over the region as small schools find it more and more difficult to field large enough teams for the D division. Mergers keep teams stronger and healthier, and also make JV teams stronger. While a partner team has not been identified, Ward said he would keep the board apprised. Any proposed merger will require board approval. He also said the school is considering adding a wrestling team in the future if a partner school can be identified.

Ward also talked with the board about efforts to encourage more students — especially college-prep students — to take advantage of a BOCES-sponsored Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) course. There is already a high level of the interest in robotics at the middle school level. ECS and BOCES are looking at ways to interest more high school students in CADD, particularly those interested in going into engineering, architecture and design.

And speaking of robotics, Ward reported on behalf of Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller, who was absent, that both the 7th and 8th grade ECS robotics teams advanced from the Southern Tier Qualifying Tournament of the FIRST® LEGO® League competition at Houghton College on Nov. 23. Each team will go on to the NY Finger Lakes regional competition at the University of Rochester on Dec. 8.

The next meeting of the ECS School Board will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 17. The time of the meeting has been changed to 4 p.m. in order to allow members and staff to attend that evening’s High School concert at 7 p.m.