By Elizabeth Riggs

In his last Ellicottville Central School District Board Meeting, Superintendent Mark Ward said his heartfelt goodbyes to the Board, which announced that the high school gymnasium and multi-use facility would be henceforth named “The Mark J. Ward Center for The Arts and Athletics” or “The Ward.”

At Ward’s retirement party, which was held last Thursday at Holiday Valley’s Yodeler Chalet and gathered more than 150 people, the naming of the facility was announced.

“It’s hard to even say anything,” Ward said tearfully. “I appreciate it, and you certainly caught me off guard. You hit it out of the ballpark.”

Ward went on to say goodbyes and thank you’s to members of the school board, administration and staff.   

“Bob and Connie – it’s been nine years of fun. We got a lot accomplished in the nine years I’ve been here. I’ve kind of had two tours of duty here,” Ward said. “You put this much time into a joint, and it’s like your home. There’s no comparison.”

Ward went on to thank District Clerk Melissa Sawicki.

“I was blessed the day I came back to have Melissa waiting for me. We’ve been a great team. We laugh a lot and I think that’s what makes it work. I’ve been so lucky,” Ward said. “She’s a true friend, certainly one of the best I’ve ever had. My mornings won’t be quite the same without her.”

In closing, Ward thanked all of the board members, “You’ve made my dream come true. You had the confidence and trust in me and I never took it lightly,” he said. “It was an honor being the superintendent here in Ellicottville. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you for that chance.”

Lastly, Ward closed with encouragement for what lies ahead and the passing of the torch to Middle and High School Principal Bob Miller who will take over the role of Superintendent on July 1.

“The future is bright. You’ve got Connie [Poulin] who will do a hell of job and Bob is ready for the challenges ahead, and you are ready as a board. With the board that you have, and the support of the community, and the solid staff, you all are left in good hands,” he said.

After Ward’s heartfelt goodbyes, in regular business, the Board unanimously approved the creation of a full-time elementary teaching position, which was accounted for in the recently-passed school budget vote. The search for the new teacher will begin after the Fourth of July holiday.

In addition, the Board approved the following fall sports coaches: Chad Bartoszek, Varsity Football; Chris Mendell, Assistant Varsity Football; Jason Marsh, JV Football; Matt Finn, Boy’s Varsity Soccer; Chris Edwards, Boy’s Modified Soccer; Girl’s Varsity Soccer, Mary Neilon; Girl’s JV Soccer (co-coaches), Katie Taylor and Leah Klahn; Girl’s Modified Soccer, Tammy Eddy; Girl’s Varsity Volleyball, Katie Auge; Girl’s JV Volleyball, Danielle Norton; Girls Modified Volleyball, Tracie Myers.

The Board also approved the following advisors for the 2017-2018 school year: Kristen Pearl, Football Cheerleading; and Chad Bartoszek, Summer Weight Training.

As discussed in prior Board Meetings, the Board also approved Kristen Pearl to the position of substitute caller. She will be given a stipend of $2,200, and provided a district cell phone to be used for district business only. Pearl was also approved for the position of Afterschool Office Aide, and Tammy Ange was approved for the position of Receiving Clerk.

Lastly, Robert Sawicki was appointed to the newly-created position of baseball pitch counter.

The Board will hold a special meeting next Tuesday, June 27 at 5 p.m. in the high school library for the purpose of personnel appointments.