Fallsburg provides housing for bluebirds of happiness
As part of the collaboration between Fallsburg Central School District (FCSD) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Liberty, sixth graders at Benjamin Cosor Elementary School (BCES) assembled bluebird houses for the BCES Trail behind the school building. The bluebird is the state bird of New York State and in need of nesting cavities. Aggressive species such as house sparrows and starlings have been taking over nesting places. The openings in the assembled birdhouses are suitable only for bluebirds.
CCE’s SueAnn Boyd arranged for Brian Brustman, who is the District Manager for Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District, to provide materials for twenty-four nesting boxes. An experienced carpenter and environmentalist, Mr. Brustman and CCE were pleased to donate the materials, labor and time to work with the children.
On January 12, second grade teacher Ms. Leah Exner welcomed Mrs. Boyd and Mr. Brustman to Mrs. Dawn McCarthy’s classroom and twenty eager students. Ms. Exner administers the Sullivan Renaissance Healthy Initiatives Grant that supports the Trail project. The grant paid for most of the hammers and screwdrivers on hand.
Mr. Brustman and Mrs. Boyd began step by step details of assembling six pieces of pine, with pre-drilled screw holes and nail locations. They had spent many hours to get the houses ready for the children. Mr. Brustman called on a student to come up front with him to demonstrate the steps. Interestingly, he chose Nicholas Colombo, whose father owns a woodworking/carpentry shop! Nicholas finished his model easily, and he traveled around the room enthusiastically assisting his classmates.
The classroom was atwitter with activity—a veritable Santa’s Workshop with twenty elves busy at five tables. The adults in the room were moving from table to table to offer guidance and support, including using screw guns to help fasten the sides of the houses. Even Principal Mary Kate Stinehour joined in. The teamwork and good energy was wonderful to witness, each child holding pieces of wood for their tablemates and encouraging each other. At the end of the hour, all nesting boxes were complete and ready to receive student names.
In a few weeks the houses will line the BCES Trail. The nesting boxes and the newly opened trail are the perfect prescription to help the bluebird survive and thrive. Each spring they and their offspring will return to BCES just as the students, their siblings and their children will do as well. As Ms. Exner says, “We are so thankful to have resources such as these to guide the students of the district through hands-on projects that will enhance the trail and help the creatures of the environment at the same time!”
Fallsburg seventh graders hear sobering message at DARE graduation
With all the temptations and challenges of underage drinking and the prevalence of opioids ranging from pain killers to heroin facing teenagers today, Fallsburg Jr/Sr High School is committed to supporting its students in making good decisions. An important part of that effort is providing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Real Refusal Strategy Program to all seventh graders, considered one of the most vulnerable age groups in our society.
Last December, Fallsburg Jr/Sr High School Resource Officer (SRO) Jason Edwards awarded the entire class certificates of completion of this valuable program. The essential parts of the ten-week training are contained in the acronym REAL. REFUSE is saying, “no, I don’t want to” do something. EXPLAIN is saying “why” I don’t want to do something. AVOID is keeping away from a situation I don’t want to be involved in. LEAVE is taking me out of a situation I don’t want to be in.
On hand for the ceremony were FCSD Superintendent Dr. Ivan Katz, Junior/Senior High School Principal Michael Williams and Officer Scott Jordy.
“You will be faced with making decisions on challenging issues throughout your lives,” the Superintendent said. “I am proud of you for learning how to make them in the DARE Program.”
When Principal Williams spoke, he held the audience’s undivided attention with a personally moving story of the disastrous effect poor judgment and bad decision-making can have on young people of their age and not much older. He concluded with these words: “In an instant, you can make a bad choice and pay a very big price that will impact your life for a long time.”
The story had a dramatic impact on the audience, putting a whole new face on the training the students had just completed. SRO Edwards and Officer Jordy handed out the certificates to a very somber group of young people, with Principal Williams having taught them a profound life lesson through the prism of his own experience.