Open arms

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua Lake Central School opened its doors to Ripley Central School students and their parents on Monday evening to demonstrate the opportunities available at the school.

The open house was held prior to today’s vote that will determine whether Ripley residents allow the Board of Education the power to tuition seventh- through 12th-grade students to CLCS.

According to Benjamin Spitzer, CLCS superintendent, the event was held to give Ripley students an opportunity to get to know what CLCS has to offer current and potential students.

“Everyone is here this evening because we had talked with Ripley about making available the facility and some of our staff to share what we do, how we do and our programs that we feel are unique,” said Spitzer. “We tried to focus on things other than the core things that you might find in every district, but rather some of the more unique opportunities that Chautauqua Lake might be able to make available to students in Ripley. So the intent was really to inform and educate anybody and everybody that might be interested in seeing what we have available.”

The event began with a welcoming introduction by Spitzer in the auditorium. His introduction touched on CLCS’ secondary priorities for the 2012-13 academic year. The priority plan states that CLCS’ secondary faculty and staff will focus on creating a safe and secure learning environment that increases student achievement and promotes a culture of excellence. The plan focuses on four goals: Individual student achievement, individual student quality of life, school climate and culture, and real world applications.

“We try to orchestrate all of our programs around our goals,” said Spitzer. “I tried to explain that we have some building priorities that are more specific to our elementary and secondary, so that at the end of the year (we can) sit back and say, ‘Did we accomplish what we intended to for all our students, parents, families and community members?’ That way we have something tangible to look at.”

In addition to Spitzer’s introduction, the open house included an overview of secondary school academics, programs and student opportunities. Students and their parents were split into groups to tour the CLCS facility and to attend six stations where presentations were held by CLCS teachers and staff.

“We have six stations set up, and we’re having some of our local community members who volunteered to be tour guides take them around and show them some of the facility,” said Spitzer. “At the stations we have volunteer staff members who are taking a bit of time to share whatever they feel is unique to their particular content area or grade level.”

Some of the things that the students learned about at the stations included: Distance learning with Jennifer Davis; co-curricular, athletics and school rankings with Josh Liddell, principal of CLCS ; AP, college credit courses and curriculum with Jason Richardson and Lori Svenson; Project Lead the Way with Steven Johnston; TV productions and The Roost with Lori Davies and Leigh-Anne Hendrick; and the seventh- and eighth-grade team pod concept with Brian Binkley, Michelle Flick, Stephanie Janicki, Craig Riedesel and Mike Rohlin.

“The seventh- and eighth-grade team pod concept is something we utilize so that teachers are in close proximity to each other so that they can compare notes on how students are progressing and so that they can problem solve together,” said Spitzer. “We also had our television production studio open so that they can see how we are teaching students to use that kind of media. Up in that same area we have a greenhouse and an agricultural science room. Mr. Liddell met with groups in the large group instruction room to go over the nitty gritty of the secondary program. They also got to see our distance learning room where we have programs brought in or beamed out.”

Spitzer hopes students and their parents bring home that the community sees the willingness that CLCS has toward finding partners to preserve and develop programs for kids.

“What I hope is that across our region we start to recognize that maybe we’ve got to be a bit more creative and a little bit more willing to look, consider, understand and digest options for preserving and sustaining programs for kids – if not advancing programs for kids,” said Spitzer.

“We’re a small school, but we have large-school opportunities,” added Liddell. “Our board of education and our superintendent have in the past few years done a very good job to make sure that we maintain programs. They’ve kept programs because they know how important they are to the students. If you look at what Chautauqua Lake has to offer, we have a lot of academic, athletic and co-curricular opportunities for our kids. That’s something that I really hope in the future that other school districts, specifically Ripley, can take advantage of.”

Chautauqua Lake Central School is located at 100 N. Erie St. in Mayville. For more information call 753-5800 or visit