By Ginna Hensel

Three presentations from various members of the Ellicottville Central School staff took place during the regularly scheduled Ellicottville Board of Education meeting on Dec. 10.

The first presentation was from Joe Prior, the faculty lead for the newly implemented Student Mentor Program. Prior attended the meeting to answer any questions the board had about the program.

Currently, the New York State Mentor Program hosts nine mentors (students in grades 10-12) and nine mentees (students in grades 4-6) on every first, third and fourth Tuesday of the month.  The program is fully funded through New York state and the district is only responsible for any printer costs. Mentors and mentees were nominated through administration and staff referrals and finalized through student support meetings.

According to Prior the program, “benefits for students academically, but socially as well.” He went on to state, “the program allows relationships to build across grade levels. This is important for a school as small as ours because many different grade levels interact on a day by day basis.”

Board member Connie Hellwig asked Prior if he sees the program expanding. He said, “As of right now, the nine pairs seem to be a good, manageable group. The most I would do is 12 groups in one session. In the future, I would be willing to do more if we split it into two groups.” 

Overall the program has been perceived as a success as both mentors and mentees are showing growth.   

The second presentation was made by Parent Teacher Organization members Diana Olson and Katie Kellen. The PTO bought a giant scrim and a stand for the school. The maroon and white scrim proudly displays large eagle heads and ECS. The purpose is for any photo opportunities during events and to spread some school spirit.

“It’s been an ongoing struggle trying to find places to take pictures when a student receives an award or does something noteworthy,” Superintendent Bob Miller commented. “This [scrim] is the perfect addition to the school.”

Elementary Principal, Maren Bush, wrapped up the last of the presentations by introducing the newest member of the Eagle family. Toby, a Norwegian Elkhound and poodle mix, has been going under rigorous training to become a certified therapy dog. He recently enjoyed his first day at ECS giving staff, administration and students some much needed “puppy love.”  

Bush stated, “the feedback has been wonderful as it seems all staff and students are falling in love with Toby. The teachers have been really supportive by teaching their students when and how to approach Toby. Overall, Toby has been a really good boy as he doesn’t bark or become too hyper. He is still a puppy and we are continuing our training with him.”  

It appears that ECS staff and students alike are receptive and appreciative of Toby. 

AFTER THE presentations, Superintendent Bob Miller updated the board on some exciting news. At a previous meeting, business teacher Cathie Nason presented to the board on a possible grant opportunity to implement Personal Finance as a graduation requirement. Miller stated that Nason received the grant for $10,000 and the transition to add the requirement will start developing in the future.

“I think this is a good thing” Miller stated, “these are skills are students need to know.”

Next, Principal Erich Ploetz updated the board on the success of the Senior Citizen luncheon.  There was around 80 total participates and he thanked Vicky Williams, lunch staff, ECS’s student council, custodial staff and teachers for their hard work and dedication with the event.

Ploetz also updated the board on something exciting and new going on at ECS: Pancake Day.  The idea was inspired by 7th grader Jayce Pearl who simply wanted more pancake breakfasts at ECS. In response, Ploetz and Pearl compromised by promoting locker clean up, lock usage on lockers and overall cleanliness in return for a pancake day.

“It looks like they are going to reach their goal,” he said. “Overall, we have seen an increase in the cleanliness of the middle school hallways.” 

Elementary Principal Maren Bush announced that four ECS students will be featured in the Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts as St. Bonaventure University. Student work that will be displayed were created by Millie Nelthrope, Audrey Mecham-Williams, Nora Santiago and Blaze Wier.  

Bush also discussed a Character Education Concert held at ECS by Jared Campbell.  Campbell’s performance, “I want to be a Superhero!” focused on eliminating bullying from schools.

“The overall program was a huge success,” Bush said. “We had kids jumping up and down and screaming in excitement. I think the message was well-received among students and staff. I had staff emailing me afterward talking about how it was the best event they’ve seen in years.”