Thursday, March 29, 2012

Local Schools Convey “Everybody Can”

Elementary and Middle schools throughout Delaware County have joined together to share the message that “Everybody Can”. Students from 8 local schools participated in a contest which was hosted by The Arc of Delaware County, an agency whose mission is to help people with disabilities live personally fulfilling lives, and Delta Kappa Gamma, a group of women educators. “The purpose of the contest was to help students gain a better understanding of people with disabilities, and to be able to look beyond disabilities and see abilities. As we started reviewing the contest entries, we were so proud of the depth of caring and compassion the students in our communities displayed. The contest selection team was certainly brought to tears a time or two.” shared Catherine Tweedie, Director of Community Relations for The Arc of Delaware County.

This is the 2nd year that The Arc of Delaware County and Delta Kappa Gamma have teamed together to sponsor this contest and over 20 entries were received for this county-wide contest. The students independently researching the topic, creating, and entering a project about what they learned using any medium they desired. The students submitted entries that included videos, books, a series of colorful stamps, poems, original music that was performed by the songwriters, a recorded interview with a disabled community member, a PowerPoint presentation, posters, and stories. The contest was open to all Delaware County Elementary and Middle schools.

Three winners were selected out of 20 county-wide entries. In addition to receiving monetary prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, they were provided scholarships to attend The Arc of Delaware County’s ”Share, Learn, Grow” mentorship program. The “Share, Learn, Grow” mentorship program is an interactive one-day program where people with disabilities serve as mentors to the visiting students. The students are paired up with people supported by Delarc and they spend the day side by side learning, sharing, and getting to know each other at one of Delarc’s facilities.

The Grand Prize of $500 went to Mrs. Nancy Gavett’s 5th grade class from Walton Central School. The class completed a Poetry Project inspired by the work of artists with disabilities. Mrs. Gavett developed a curriculum around the contest, and shared that one of the goals for the class project was, “To develop an understanding of the spectrum of human abilities, empathy, and appreciation for people whose abilities are limited in some way, admiration for extraordinary accomplishments- particularly by those who overcome a disability, and to acknowledge that we all fall along this spectrum of abilities and may, at anytime, face changes in our abilities.” They made a video and presented a description of the process, individual poems written by the students, and a book about the class project.

On March 16th a special assembly was held and their completed video was shown and prizes were awarded. It was at the assembly that the class first learned that they had won the County Wide Grand prize. Mrs. Gavett shared that the students were surprised and thrilled. “The project was very rewarding particularly when I saw them thinking so hard about other people, observing their limitations, and discovering that their disabilities did not limit what a person can do. They worked through sighs, frustration,tears, and found pleasure in a product well done."

The 2nd Place County wide winner was Kaylee Gill from Amber Dennis’s 5th & 6th Grade reading (ELA) class, Hancock Central School. Kaylee created a PowerPoint presentation showing methods, tools, and equipment used by people with disabilities to overcome obstacles, showing that “Everybody Can” do things they want to do.

The 3rd Place County wide winner was Lilliana Bevilacqua who wrote an essay that about a personal experience with an individual with disabilities and also provided examples of famous people who overcame disabilities and made significant contributions to the world.

Each school that participated in the contest independently selected 1st, 2nd,and 3rd place school winners which included the following:

Andes Central School- 1st- Susie Little’s Pre-K and Kindergarten class, 2nd Jordan Ennist and Peter DePierro, 3rd Dennis Fickeria III

Franklin Central School- 1st Lilliana Bevilacqua, 2nd Felix Bridel, 3rd Tyler Gregory

Hancock Central School- 1st- Spencer Layman, 2nd Juanita Mason, 3rd, Kaylee Gill

Hancock Elementary School – 1st Mrs. Gustin's 2nd Grade Class, 2nd Mrs. Vasconi-Smith’s 4th Grade Class

Roxbury Central School-CROP After School Program- 8th grade-1st Cara Suess

South Kortright Central School -1st- Bruce Dunkle, Schuyler German, Ed Newman and Brandon Porter, 2nd-Briana Laing, 3rd 3rd- Karimah Kahrs and Ariel Perry

Stamford CentralSchool-1st Deb Mueller’s 3rd Grade Class

Townsend Elementary School, Walton-1st- Collin Sparling, 2nd Jose Mirabal, 3rd Samantha Taddeo

You can view Mrs. Gavett’s 5th Grade classes’ winning video as well as other entries from the “Everybody Can” contest here:
Mrs. Little's Pre-K and Kindergarten Class from Andes also submitted a video that was their school's first place winning entry. Their video can be viewed here:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Justin Kolb, Pianist Extraordinaire Visits Delarc

Justin Kolb, pianist extraordinaire, visited several of Delarc’s facilities on Wednesday 3/14. Justin made his concert debut at age 10 in solo performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Gary Symphony. He is an extremely talented performer who travels 4 months each year during his concert tours throughout Eastern Europe, Canada, and the United States. However his home base is in Delaware County, NY which he says is the most rewarding place to play. He states that people in the Catskill’s area don’t take great music for granted.

Justin has been associated with The Arc of Delaware County(Delarc) for almost a decade. His long relationship with Delarc began when George Suess, Exec. Director requested that he give a recital at a Christmas event at one of Delarc’s facilities. While performing, he noticed the effect that the music had on his audience. “When I played softly the people became very quiet and when I was playing loudly they also became louder. I found it fascinating that they instinctively tracked along with the music. I stopped playing and there was silence. I asked if there was anyone that would like to play. All but 2 (people) came forward to express themselves musically. It’s my personal judgment that for both the audience and myself, it was an empowering and powerful experience.” Since then, he has been delighting people at Delarc each year, providing entertainment, instruction, and encouragement to individuals and groups of people. Justin shared that he feels that artists have an obligation to share their talent with others. After Justin’s visits you can see the huge impact that he has on the people of Delarc by the excitement and smiles on everyone’s faces. He shared that this program has been a very rewarding experience for him as well.

Friday, March 2, 2012

"All Trees Have Souls" Exhibition of Work by James Mould

Come and enjoy a visit to the Main View Gallery in Oneonta, NY beginning with the opening reception of the "Viewpoints" exhibit on March 9th 5 pm-7 pm. James Mould will be a featured guest artist and have several of his drawings on display. James discovered his artistic talent 3 years ago when he retired from farm work, moved to Stamford, NY and had more time to try other things. People at Resources For Industry (RFI) began noticing his artistic talent in the pen doodles he would make on his note papers. “When I first came here (RFI), I was so shy” said James. But people continued to encourage him to keep drawing and James further developed his newly discovered talent. James has explored several art mediums at the Catskill Mountain Artisan Guild in Margaretville as well his Art Expressions class at RFI. However, his theme of choice is trees and his favorite medium is colored pencils.

Fellow artists have recognized his work and invited him to display at the Longyear Gallery, Margaretville, NY this past January. As a result of connections made at that show, the curator of the Main View Galley collaborated with James to present his works at her gallery.
James finds he is inspired by nature and finds his artwork not only continues to provide him with endless satisfaction, but has connected him with others in a way he had not experienced before. He no longer feels shy, but enjoys sharing his love of art and nature with others.
The Main View Gallery is located at 73 Main St., Oneonta, NY, tel. no. 607.432.189. To view some of James' artwork click on the following Flicker link: