High school duo makes return to regional poetry contest

Kristen Henry and Jessica Wu will represent Cornwall in the regional finals of the Poetry Out Loud Competition.

Kristen Henry and Jessica Wu will represent Cornwall in the regional finals of the Poetry Out Loud Competition.

Cornwall High School students Kristen Henry and Jessica Wu are no strangers to the Poetry out Loud competition. Both will be making returns, on Feb. 3, to the regional portion of the competition after finishing second and first respectively in the in-school competition last week.

“I’m excited we’re both going,” Henry said. “I think we both have a good chance to do very well.”

Henry, a senior, qualified for the regional competition as a freshman and sophomore, but never made it to states. Last year she failed to qualify as the high school’s winner or runner-up, losing points for accuracy when she read “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns.

Wu, a sophomore, is two-for-two when it comes to being one of Cornwall’s representatives at regionals. Last year she moved past the round before bowing out in the state finals.

“I feel it gets easier the more you get up and recite poems,” Wu said. “The more I do it, the more I like it.”

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Lee Roaders like “dogging it” on stage

Photo by Ken Cashman During a break in Saturday’s rehearsal, cast members gathered around Nana the Dog. From left to right are Hannah Bartley (Mrs. Darling), Greta Frossman (Wendy), Jacob Carter (Michael Darling), Keaton Vernachick (dog), Rikhil Meisuria (John Darling) and Nate Parsons (Mr. Darling).

Photo by Ken Cashman
During a break in Saturday’s rehearsal, cast members gathered around Nana the Dog. From left to right are Hannah Bartley (Mrs. Darling), Greta Frossman (Wendy), Jacob Carter (Michael Darling), Keaton Vernachick (dog), Rikhil Meisuria (John Darling) and Nate Parsons (Mr. Darling).

The cast of “Peter Pan Jr.” was at Cornwall High School on Saturday morning. There were kids in the aisles, waiting to march down to the front of the auditorium. On stage, a few performers were listening to the director. The kids were attentive. But as they listened, one reached down to pet the dog. Another messed with the animal’s fur.

The dog curled up in delight, but didn’t bark. Of course, he didn’t bark, because he was a student in a canine outfit.

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School science expo attracts a diverse crowd

Photo by Ken Cashman Cassidy Cubito (foreground) and Olivia Weir (far right) attracted a crowd with their “Dancing Ooblick” demonstration at the Nov. 29 Science Expo. The event for third and fourth-graders took place at the middle school.

Photo by Ken Cashman
Cassidy Cubito (foreground) and Olivia Weir (far right) attracted a crowd with their “Dancing Ooblick” demonstration at the Nov. 29 Science Expo. The event for third and fourth-graders took place at the middle school.

There was a diverse group at the middle school on Tuesday night, Nov. 29. And that was part of the event’s appeal.

Third and fourth-graders were there for the Elementary Science Expo. A group of middle school students sold baked goods at the door. And a bunch of high school volunteers served as judges.

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Wall of Fame honors students

Photo contributed Each month Cornwall Middle School teacher, Steve Kessler, recognizes students in his class by placing their photos on his wall.

Photo contributed
Each month Cornwall Middle School teacher, Steve Kessler, recognizes students in his class by placing their photos on his wall.

A wall of fame usually recognizes the best of the best in a certain field. Steve Kessler, music teacher at Cornwall Middle School, believes that honor should be extended to those who try to be the best they can be. When he came to the district 14  years ago, Kessler created his own Music Wall of Fame.

“I just wanted to recognize the kids who are not the top musicians but who have a great attitude and are trying their best and just give it their all,” he said. “They may not be the ones who are always recognized. Sometimes it’s not your first chair player. It could be the kid who’s trying, giving it his all, but he’s never going to be there. Sometimes it is the star kids. It’s a way to recognize a variety of kids.”

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Students uncover artifacts during dig

File photo John Brady, manager of Black Rock Forest, speaks to fourth-grade students on Oct. 28, the day they prepared for their archaeological dig.

File photo
John Brady, manager of Black Rock Forest, speaks to fourth-grade students on Oct. 28, the day they prepared for their archaeological dig.

Earlier this month, students from all three fourth grade classes, at Willow Avenue Elementary School, put shovels to the earth in the hope of uncovering an artifact from the American Revolution.

Students prepared for the excavation adventure by visiting Black Rock Forest the week prior and creating a time line of events of local interest and national importance.

The day of the dig found them back in the forest, particularly near the former Continental Road, which, in the 18th century, ran through the forest and connected the New Windsor Cantonment with West Point.

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Teen pilot learns how to fly in high school

Contributed photo Jake Decker, a high school senior, in the Diamond 20 he has piloted to Dutchess and Columbia Counties.

Contributed photo
Jake Decker, a high school senior, in the Diamond 20 he has piloted to Dutchess and Columbia Counties.

“Landing isn’t as hard as people think it is,” Jake Decker told us. “You keep your speed at 65 to 70 knots per hour, you check the light bars [glide slope] on the runway, and come down at a 3.5  degree angle.”

It was Friday afternoon and we were sitting outside the principal’s office at Cornwall Central High School, where Jake is a senior. He studies aviation in the morning at the BOCES Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC). And returns to Cornwall at about lunch time to tackle the more traditional subjects.

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Willow kids use Black Rock Forest as a classroom

Photo by Ken Cashman While in Black Rock Forest on Oct. 28, Christine Cleeves’ students used a log to create a time line. At 11 a.m., the kids were cold but smiling.

Photo by Ken Cashman
While in Black Rock Forest on Oct. 28, Christine Cleeves’ students used a log to create a time line. At 11 a.m., the kids were cold but smiling.

Friday’s lesson was popular with teachers and students. The teachers liked it because it combined history, science and mathematics. The kids liked it because they were in the woods.

Fourth-graders at Willow Avenue School are preparing for an archaeological dig in Black Rock Forest. They’re hoping to find artifacts from the American Revolution.

The site they’ll be excavating lies near the former Continental Road — an 18th century thoroughfare that runs through the forest and that once linked the New Windsor Cantonment with West Point.

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Cornwall alumni return for an Engineering Day

Photo by Ken Cashman Mike Flannery, who organizes the high school’s Engineering Day, reviews the morning schedule with Brandon Ryan (right), a 2012 Cornwall graduate.

Photo by Ken Cashman
Mike Flannery, who organizes the high school’s Engineering Day, reviews the morning schedule with Brandon Ryan (right), a 2012 Cornwall graduate.

A lot has changed in the four years since Brandon Ryan graduated from Cornwall Central High School. He’s grown a neatly trimmed beard; his swimming record  has been erased, the school has hired a new principal, and Brandon is now an engineer for Skanska USA.

He returned to his alma mater on Oct. 28 for the eighth annual Engineering Day. By 10 a.m., he had addressed two classes of algebra students, and told them about the projects he’s worked on during his first year on the job.

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County Executive tells kids he won’t be president

At the end of his Oct. 13 visit to Willow Avenue School, County Executive Steve Neuhaus received a box of cookies from the fourth-graders. On the top of the box was a picture of a mastodon.

At the end of his Oct. 13 visit to Willow Avenue School, County Executive Steve Neuhaus received a box of cookies from the fourth-graders. On the top of the box was a picture of a mastodon.

We don’t know much about the county executive’s long-range plans, but we know he’s not thinking about a run for the presidency. The question came up on Oct. 13 while Steve Neuhaus was visiting Willow Avenue School.

It was a return visit. Mr. Neuhaus had come to Willow a year ago after getting letters from Debbie Gilson’s fourth-graders. The kids had asked him to proclaim a Mastodon Day, since so many remains had been found in Orange County.

The Executive granted their request and came back a year later with fresh proclamations. Apparently, Mastodon Day has become an annual event — or an excuse for Mr. Neuhaus to mingle with the teachers and students, which he seems to enjoy.

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Kids learn the Hudson River can change quickly

An orange was tossed into the Hudson River to determine in what direction the water was flowing.

Fourth-grade teacher Debbie Gilson holds an orange, which was then tossed into the Hudson River to determine which way the water was flowing.

Each year, students gather up and down the Hudson River for a Day in the Life of the Hudson River, which was started by the Hudson River Estuary Program. Its goal is to allow students to use real science to learn about the river, collect data to analyze and make hypotheses about trends based on results from previous years.

On Oct. 20, students from Willow Avenue Elementary School spent the day at Donahue Memorial Park collecting data from the river. A half dozen stations were set up between the Cornwall Yacht Club and the Moodna Creek. The kids spent about 20 minutes at each station.

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