Sunday, April 8, 2018

April 11, 2018

Student Opportunities Abound at South Seneca

Hello Parents, Students, and Community Members:
Our students are given many opportunities to explore.  We strive to find quality programming, not only within our walls, but outside of school when possible.  Please see the stories below as examples.  We will always be looking for innovative ways to get students involved and inspired.

It's hard to believe we're just about 3/4 of the way through the school year.  As the school year comes to a close, feel free to contact teachers, guidance or me with any questions. We want to help students have the best possible outcomes as we finish the year. Thanks for your support.

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Coming Events:

April 21 - STEPS Day of Service  Click the link for more info.  We're looking for as many students as possible to be involved in this great project.

April 23Save a Life Tour  See link for company details. Students will have access to driving simulators during learning labs or lunches. The more knowledge we can get students about the vital skill of auto safety, the better.

May 2Funding the Future Show  This is a program that's being brought to us free of charge.  This is a unique way of getting students vital financial literacy knowledge. It starts with a rock show and ends with financial literacy!  See the link for details.

Extended Day Program a Big Hit
Our extended day program has proven again this year that the ability to not only meet students' academic needs but to pique their interest and further their passion is the way to increase student participation in an after school program. We have been able to maintain several of our programs that tap into the student athlete population.

Partnerships with outside providers for unique opportunities have increased this year. We continued our STEM program with the Cornell Cooperative Extension and our Outdoor Adventures that hosted skiing this year. Additionally, we have added a horseback riding program with a community business.

Academic support has increased to more consistent availability with staff available four days a week since the start of the spring session. Participation numbers are higher than last year and we hope to see the continued upward trend with dedication and willing support of our staff to not only make themselves available, but to help share their own interest with our students.

New High School Courses for 18-19

Gardening: Mrs. Parsons will be moving to the high school for 9th and 11th grade English next year.  With her move, she is adding a gardening course.  Details of the course still need to be worked out, but it will fit in very nicely with our geographic area and surrounding agriculture industry.

Mr. Matt Barkee will be adding a food industry course.  Students will learn skills like food preparation and restaurant management.  We're very excited about our new courses, which will allow students great career related learning. Mr. Anderson has been recruiting students for these new and exciting courses.

Middle/High School Planning Calendar

With our Building Planner, we're making it easier to find out what's happening in the Middle and High Schools.

From the High School home page, click on the
Ovid Building Planner link under the Calendars title. You'll find the letter days, various events, and even fund raisers. I hope you find this useful.

BOCES Success

Senior Dom Kio has been in the BOCES culinary arts program for the last two years.  He recently served dinners, appetizers and desserts to local school officials at the BOCES budget meeting.  Dom's dishes were delicious, and he has really enjoyed his time at BOCES.  We appreciate Dom's hard work in the program.

Thanks to Mrs. Copp

As Mrs. Fran Copp's career comes to a close, we want to show our appreciation.  She has had a great influence on many students, including Hannah Porter, picture here.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018

Dear parents and community members:
Thanks for taking a look at our latest High School News.  As with other times of the year, January was a busy month for us. Below are a just a few of the things that happened.  Feel free to contact me at any time with questions or comments.  

If your child is encountering any problems, please let us know.  We have very dedicated and caring staff that is here to help.  A couple of good sources for contacts are our Guidance Department page or our Staff Directory.  You can also check our communication guide, which is linked from both the middle school and high school home pages. Thank you very much for your support. 

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Congratulations To Our Wrestling Champions

Congratulations to all our wrestlers on a great season, especially Keagan Carmenatty and Quinton Wormuth-Mundell. 
Keagan (left) is the Section 5 Class B 220 lb. champ. 
Quinton (right) is the 285 lb. champ. 
Great job guys!

Support for Hannah Podgorny
Hannah Podgorny, a senior, is challenged with some health issues. The senior class is selling some  tee shirts in her honor.  Please see the post here, which is on the school website.

School Anxiety and Avoidance Summit
The Racker Center in Ithaca is holding this meeting.  Family members, students, school staff, providers and community members are encouraged to attend. Please click here for more information. They still have a few spots available. 

Testing and Project Days - January 22 to 24

Students work in Auto Systems with Mr. Gilfus
During our midterm and Regents testing days, several teachers had special events for students.  The special schedule allowed us to have some longer times that usually wouldn't be available. 

Shown is one of Mrs. Copp's guest artists.
Art students enjoyed two 3-hour sessions on January 24. In the morning, we had painter Kari Ganoung Ruiz with the Drawing & Painting students and in the afternoon we had potter Mary Ellen Salmon with the Ceramics students.

Our Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD) class had a 3 hour project. Shown here is sophomore Brandon Vanselow.

Ms. Guinan and Mr. Ovenshire ran some team building activities.

2 Calendar Issues

If you have a printed calendar, please fix these 2 issues. Sorry for the errors.

  • March 7: This date should be listed as "Early Dismissal" only.  On an early dismissal day, students in the middle and high schools are released at 12:45, and students in the elementary school are released at 1:45.  
  • May 16: The middle and high schools only have one parent conference day on May 8, not two as the printed calendar states.  If you have a printed calendar, please label May 16 as PK-5 only. 

What is Yorkers Club?

Yorkers Club is South Seneca’s international travel club in the high school.

The club has traveled to many destinations, including Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Wales, England & Costa Rica. In March of 2018 the club will go to Germany, Poland, Hungary & Czech Republic! Anyone can join and start fundraising!

A few key points:
  • Students must be in Grades 9 - 12 to travel.  
  • Students vote on the next destination in the Spring, so ballots will be coming soon!
  • 8th graders will be eligible next year, and can vote on the ballot this spring.
Please review this valuable article that covers advantages of student travel experiences.

If a student is interested in traveling, he or she can see Mrs. Sanchez in room 218 to find out more.  Parents can contact her at

Five SS Students Earn Awards

Five South Seneca students received the highest honor from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, announced January 30, 2018.

See the post here from our website.  

Once again, Mrs. Copp's art students are shining.  

Thanks to Mrs. Copp and others for organizing our latest Falcon Flyers events.  Please see this document.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15

Hi folks,
I hope the winter is treating you well. This edition of our High School News focuses on testing.  Our schedule for January 22 to 24 is below, and I've also posted some good links in my first section concerning studying for Regents exams.  

Thanks for your support of our wonderful South Seneca students!

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Tips on studying for Regents Exams

With our Regents and Midterm testing week approaching, here are some great resources for students:

  • Castle Learning  - Students at South Seneca have accounts to this powerful study tool. 
  • Khan Academy - Khan has quickly become a powerful learning tool for students worldwide. 
  • Past exams on the NYS Education Department site
    • I made a quick video on how to access past Regents exams (linked above). By reviewing old exams and using tools such as Castle Learning and Khan Academy, success on exams can be greatly enhanced!

Regents and Midterms - January 22 to 24

From Monday, January 22 to Wednesday, January 24, we will be holding Regents exams, mid-term exams, and special classes/projects for students in the High School.  The overall schedule is below, and students are currently receiving their individual schedules. 

Monday, January 22:
  • Exams and one US History review session. 
  • No regular classes at the Ovid campus. 
  • Breakfast and lunch available as usual.
  • BOCES classes are in session. Students are expected to attend unless testing. 
  • Regular bus transportation will be provided, including service at the half day point for those who need it.
Tuesday and Wednesday, January 23 and 24:
  • Exams (Regents and midterms).
  • Breakfast and lunch available as usual.
  • BOCES classes are in session. Students are expected to attend unless testing.
  • Regular bus transportation will be provided, including service at the half day point for those who need it.
  • All 9th and 10th grade schedules are full. This includes special classes and project time.
  • Many 11th and 12th graders are scheduled for Regents, midterms, and special projects or classes. 
    • Students in 11th and 12th grade do not have to be in school during unscheduled times
    • 11th and 12th graders should speak with their teachers if they would like to arrange meetings for review or work completion. 
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday, we have taken advantage of the testing schedule to hold some special projects, classes, movies and even speakers. I am excited that these days will provide us some opportunities we would usually be unable to offer. For example:
    • 9th and 10th grade skill building sessions such as ELA camp and Math camp.
    • Workplace lectures for 9th and 10th graders. 
    • Special class project sessions (all grades depending on individual schedules):
      • Studio Art, Ceramics, Drawing, Auto Systems, Computer Assisted Drafting, Wood Production, Digital Media
      • 2 movies for 10th graders that are intended to enhance classroom learning without costing valuable classroom time. 
Thursday and Friday, January 25 and 26:
  • Regular class schedules
The general schedule file is located here and on the high school web page.  If you have any questions about the week, please let me know.

If a student is studying for the SAT test, here's a great way to enhance scores.  Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to help students.  Khan Academy is always offering new ways for students to enhance their knowledge and scores.  Check it out! 

Martin Luther King
On this remembrance day for Dr. King, I've included a link to his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.  He was a great example for all of us, no matter our color.

School Anxiety and Avoidance Summit
Family members, students, school staff, providers and community members are encouraged to attend this event, which is sponsored by the Racker Center in Ithaca

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday, December 3

Hi folks, 
Thanks for visiting our High School News blog.  We have a valuable event coming up this week for our high school and Middle School students.  Mr. Rich Johns will be speaking.  Please see the post below.  I hope you all have a great December and holiday season.

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Rich Johns To Speak on
Wednesday, December 6

During our half day, Mr. Rich Johns will be speaking to our students.  Mr. Johns was a long time New York State educator. Following his passion of personal character development,  he started his “pay it forward” mission called Act With Respect Always with his Saratoga Springs High School tennis program and his sixth grade classes. He has continued this mission by speaking with other groups like South Seneca students.

We're excited to have Mr. Johns here.
You can check his website here.

If any parents or community members would like to attend, you are more than welcome. Mr. Johns will be speaking with middle school students from 8:00 to 9:00 and high school students from 10:20 to 11:20, both in the auditorium.  You would need to check in at the office first.

Who Said Turkeys Can't Dance?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday, November 22

Hello everyone, 
I hope that you all enjoy the Thanksgiving break.  As always, it's been a busy time in Falcon Land. I'm thankful for the many efforts of our dedicated staff members along with our wonderful students. 

If you haven't signed up for a parent conference, it's not too late. Please contact the school on Monday, and we can get you into a conference slot.  Thank you very much for your communication and suggestions; they are always welcome. 

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

This month's focus:
Tech Programs Going Strong

Students in our Auto Systems class are taught by John Gilfus.  Mr. Gilfus has a 2 period (75 minute) class every day for juniors and seniors. If your student is interested in a career with unlimited job opportunities, look into Auto Systems. 

John Barkee's classes focus on skills that students need for careers in many types of jobs.  From wood working to computer assisted drafting, Mr. Barkee's classes are devoted to teaching skills that students will use in the workplace. 

We are lucky at South Seneca to have a fully functioning tech department.  Students should take advantage of these courses.  For more info, please contact our Guidance department. 

Class News
You can see our class news pages on the right side of this post. 

BOCES students of the month for October
Congratulations to the following South Seneca students. Great job!
  • Mark Bullock, Food Services
  • Ben Snyder, Heavy Equipment
December's Positive View
Please review the poster below. Feel free to share this with your kids.  Let's face it, high school can be tough.  Words of encouragement for older folks like us can make all the difference.

Click picture to enlarge.
United Way
I recently joined the Board of Directors for the United Way Seneca County. I believe it's important that the organization should have a representative or two from the southern part of the county.  Please check their website at

The United Way supports many great programs in our area.  If you'd like to help support the campaign, feel free to contact me or check their site. Thanks. 

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 7, 2017

Hello Parents and Students,

It's hard to believe, but nearly ten weeks of school are complete. I will write to you often to share some great stories from our students.  I also want to provide some information that will help you track your students' progress and provide help where needed.

If you ever need to speak with someone directly, feel free to call the school at 607-869-9636.   We will make this newsletter a regular part of our communication strategy. If you'd like to see our communication guide, please click here.  This is available from our High School and Middle School home pages.

If you'd like to see a certain type of posting from me or others, please let me know.  My email is Thank you very much for reading.

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Parent and Student Portal
This year, we have started with a new student management system called Schooltool.  Schooltool is more powerful than the program we used in the past. It's been a challenge to get everything switched over, but it's working very well now.  You can easily track student progress with the parent and student portals.

Please go to the document linked here.  This document has directions and a link to Schooltool.  If you need any help, feel free to call and ask for the guidance office.

Great student pictures
Feel free to click the link above for some pictures we've been collecting for this year. More to come. 

Keeping An Eye on Employability Skills
Several of our ongoing initiatives in the classroom and our systems aim to improve valuable skills that lead to success both in college and the workforce. Preparing students for their future means thinking beyond our own walls to the ever-changing needs of the workforce.
Please click here for a great link. 

Class News
Please see the links to the right for our class news. A few will be updated shortly, and you will receive emails from advisers or Mr. Houseknecht.

New tables in Mr. Zeitz's room
The report below is from Mr. Zeitz, our 8th grade social studies teacher. We have been updating some furniture as our budget allows. This new arrangement is already paying dividends, and we plan to do some of the same at the high school level.

Tables arrived on Weds. 10/25. In the past two days of instruction I have noticed a sizable uptick in student interaction and collaboration. Individual desks presented a barrier of sorts because students had a limited/confined work space. NYSMSA speaker Jack Berckemeyer often references the fact that students are growing, making them twitchy and uncomfortable. Shoving a teenager into what essentially amounts to an acrylic and metal cage for their lower body is akin to jumping into a burlap sack with a wolverine; it won't end well. Using tables reduces that problem because they're constructed in such a way that students have more freedom of movement.

Even when combining desks, students would often struggle to have the room needed to create or collaborate without invading the space of another classmate. The extra width and length allow students to spread out and not feel constrained. At the end of a class, desks would be strewn about the room, along with students' personal belongings and chairs; creating a hassle to clean up and reorganize before the next class or the end of the day. The tables are heavy and relatively immobile, leaving the chairs as the only movable piece of furniture. This is actually beneficial in my current configuration because it takes less time to set up a Socratic/round table discussion, take part in small group activities, prepare for a debate, use arts and crafts, etc... - all one needs to move is a chair. The extra flexibility gives me more options for instruction; simulations, inquiries, projects, research, and even more traditional note-taking are easier to do AND switch between with this table-based set-up.

I'm excited and thankful to move forward with this set of classroom furniture.

Standing Table Samples
I was able to get a couple of standing desks as samples. They are in Mr. Brewer's social studies classroom.  So far, Mr. Brewer is very impressed. Standing is great for some kids. As we gather insights from students and teachers, purchases of more standing desks will be a possibility.

Article links:

Organization Skills and Time Management
With the need to manage their busy personal lives, academic schedule and extra-curricucular activities can pose problems for most high school students. Helping them manage their priorities in practical ways and helping them become autonomous and independent is key for building successful habits for the future. Please see  the resource  below for tips.

The Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
Thanks to Mrs. Sanchez for sharing this article.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 7, 2017

Dear Parents, Students and Community Members,

It's hard to believe that we're nearly 3/4 of the way through the school year.  Our students are engaged in some great activities, like the examples below illustrate.  

If your child is struggling with anything at all, please let us know.  I can handle your call personally or get you to the right person.  Feel free to call any time; we're here to help kids succeed. Thank you for your support.

Tim Houseknecht, Principal

Class newsletters 
Click here or see the links on the side.

Important dates:
April 7 - End of 3rd quarter
April 17-21 Spring Break
May 9 half day
May 9 Silver Tea
May 13 Junior/Senior Prom
May 26-29 Memorial Day break
June 12 last day of classes
June 13-22 Regents exams

Students Head to Microsoft HQ in NYC
On April 3 and 4, Mr. Hermanet and Mr. Houseknecht took 25 students to Microsoft's headquarters in New York City. The students attended an event from the We Connect the Dots organization, which specializes in getting students experiences in the tech industry.  

The students had a great time, learned some good teamwork skills, met some Microsoft managers, and got to speak with a future astronaut via Skype.  

Great Industrial Arts Classes Available Here
John Barkee has put together some very useful documents about our industrial arts programs. Please share this with your kids.  We have a robust program that rivals any school in the area.  Thanks for looking. 

BOCES Students of the Month
We're proud of these students.

  • Edson (Brad) Updike, Food Services
  • Reilley Meeks, Outdoor Recreation Services
  • Alexandria Rought, Cosmetology

  • Destiny Freitas-Valderrama, Cosmetology
  • Edson (Brad) Updike, Food Services (2 months in a row!)

The Wiz Was a Smashing Success
Thanks to all the folks that came to The Wiz.  The auditorium was packed to capacity for 3 wonderful shows. Special thanks to Mrs. Bauder and her whole team for putting the pieces together for this highly acclaimed show.

Holocaust Speaker Visits our 8th Graders
I know this is the HS news, but I thought you'd be interested in seeing the link below.  Our teachers come up with some great ideas for visitors, and this is one of them. 
From Mrs. Parsons: Thank you to everyone who came to see our Holocaust speaker, Claudia Lewenstein, today.  If you are interested in watching her father's video that she mentioned, it is located on the page linked below (along with the video we watched today and some other videos from area speakers).

Free college workshops this June
Click on the title to see some information about free college workshops. The programs are taking place at the Watson Homestead Conference and Retreat Center in Painted Post.