Sunday, November 25, 2018

What About...

Has anyone else out in the cyber universe noticed how increasingly violent and combative 'Black Friday' has become? I generally enjoy visiting various stores following the Thanksgiving holiday in search of various bargains, but each and ever year we are hearing reports of violence in stores as shoppers attempt to race against time to get an item before another. In some cases, the violence has nothing to do with sales or shopping at all. It isn't exactly the perfect picture of the unofficial start of the holiday season. The holiday season is supposed to be about kindness, sharing, giving, family, friends, etc. Certainly shopping for others is a part of giving, but the concept of kindness is lost on Black Friday as people are literally willing to push and shove their way through crowds to get what they want. What at one point in time was a very enjoyable, seasonable thing to do (shop for others for the holidays), is turning into something dangerous and selfish. The commercialization of all of our holidays has caused many in society to be blind to our fellow citizens that are truly in need. Each and every year, we hear more and more stories of our charitable organizations experiencing a shortfall in products/funds to support those that are in need. People all throughout our country need our help in some way, shape, or form. It can be minimal in nature. It can be as simple as carrying some bags for someone or cleaning off a car for someone else in a snow storm. What would happen if everyone that was shopping on Black Friday donated just 10% of their savings from the sales that they found to a local charity that supports families in need? What if instead of Black Friday or a week of shopping, our society had a week of supporting others as a tradition? What if our children attended field trips to food pantries and community service organizations rather than amusement parks, movies, and arts events? The problem is that so many of us are not exposed to the concept of giving and supporting others, that we don't even realize that there is a problem. The American way is to believe that someone else is always the problem and someone else will fix it. It's time that we as a community turn back the clock to a time where people cared about each other more than they cared about stuff. What about a national day of kindness and giving? I wonder what that would look like? Someday, we will get there, because if not, our entire way of life and society is in jeopardy.

LGBTQ Youth Opportunities 

One of our local organizations, OOAK Showcase, has recently opened up a new art exhibit entitled AWAKEN to benefit a local advocacy center, the Q Center. In light of the recent tragedy in Waterville, it's more important than ever that our children, all of our children, have an outlet and the ability to be heard. Combined with the art exhibit, OOAK will also be hosting an event on Thursday, November 29 entitled Book Talk, and another one entitled Spoken Word on Friday, November 30. For more information about these events, please visit the following links:
Thank you to the OOAK Showcase for the constant and continued support of our students and families. 

RFA Class Holiday Window Competition

In conjunction with our local JCP, who is a tremendous supporter of our local education, families, and students; each of the individual RFA cohorts has decorated a holiday window display at the local JCP as a fundraising event. The window paintings will be on display throughout the holiday season and you can vote for your favorite window in the store. The winning class will receive a $200 donation from JCP. Thank you to JCP for sponsoring such a fun event which brings the school and community together during the holiday season.  Students from each class volunteered their time and creative ability to design the best windows for Rome, so make sure to get out and vote for your favorite!


Concert Season

The winter concert season is upon us! Over the next 3 weeks, you can catch a wonderful musical performance by one of our musical groups on almost any given day. With each school having at least one performance and the secondary schools having multiple performances, it truly is a great 3 week stretch of enjoying some music. For a complete list of our concert schedule, please visit our WEBSITE

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Two Little Words...


As we enter the beginning of the traditional American holiday season, many people lose sight of the many individuals in our country that do not celebrate our traditional holidays. Along with this, and maybe more concerning, is that many people lose sight of the meaning behind our traditional holidays. There are many negative connotations that are connected with Thanksgiving due to the manner in which early settlers imposed their way of life and ideals on Native Americans; but, what can not be debated is the meaning of the word Thanksgiving. It's one of few words that when broken down into simpler terms completely makes sense. "Thanks" and "Giving". In our society today, our youth are increasingly losing sight of these words. Beyond just our youth, many adults have also become entitled and feel empowered to be disrespectful and selfish. The concept of working hard to earn a living, or to say "thank you" when someone does something nice for you is diminished significantly over time. Think about it, how often do you see a random stranger doing something nice for someone in need just because? It may happen more at this time of year, but it should happen year round. Our country, and way of life, developed out of people from many cultures helping each other and giving of their own so that the society can thrive. Suddenly, we are thrust into a society where helping others is not mainstream and people from other cultures are considered outsiders. We have evolved into a society of entitlement where it is rare to hear the words, "thank you." Thinking of a recent heart warming story, one of our new (and younger) custodians was struggling to figure out why the principal would say "thank you" every day as she was leaving work. The young gentleman said, "I'm doing my job, you don't have to thank me," and was puzzled by the consistent kind gesture. The point is, sometimes the simple and kind gesture of saying "thank you" can let someone else know you appreciate the work they are doing. Saying "thank you" can be both a compliment and an action of giving, as the words make people feel good about what they are doing. In the end, we all need to work at "giving" more than receiving, and saying "thank you" more often. That being said, I would like to thank our entire school community for what they do for our youth each and every day. I hope that those of you that are celebrating Thanksgiving, have a wonderful holiday. Thank you... two little words that can mean more than you possibly know.

RFA Open Mic Night 

On Tuesday, November 20, the RFA junior class will be holding the annual Open Mic Night at the RFA auditorium. This annual fundraiser has become a November tradition at RFA and an evening to enjoy some of our best talent throughout the school. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the fee for entrance is $8.00 or $7.00 with a canned good donation. Start the holiday season right with some enjoyment at the Open Mic Night!!

RFA Class Holiday Window Competition

In conjunction with our local JCP, who is a tremendous supporter of our local education, families, and students; each of the individual RFA cohorts has decorated a holiday window display at the local JCP as a fundraising event. The window paintings will be on display throughout the holiday season and you can vote for your favorite window in the store. The winning class will receive a $200 donation from JCP. Thank you to JCP for sponsoring such a fun event which brings the school and community together during the holiday season.  Students from each class volunteered their time and creative ability to design the best windows for Rome, so make sure to get out and vote for your favorite!


Concert Season

The winter concert season is upon us! Over the next 3 weeks, you can catch a wonderful musical performance by one of our musical groups on almost any given day. With each school having at least one performance and the secondary schools having multiple performances, it truly is a great 3 week stretch of enjoying some music. For a complete list of our concert schedule, please visit our WEBSITE




Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thank You Vets...

As we honor our military veterans today, this time of year has become a symbol to our country of the many women and men that we need to remember, recognize, and embody on a daily basis. Each year, the number of Veteran's Day celebrations throughout our country/region grow; as does the length of time that the recognitions occur for. Without a doubt, organizations throughout our nation are recognizing our veterans beyond the designated day; and the reality is that we should all be honoring veterans each and every day. Beyond the sacrifice that they have made to serve our country throughout their lives, our military veterans and members bring with them an approach to society and life that we should try to emulate. Being in the military is not something that is for everyone. That generally is because the military requires sacrifice, discipline, service above self, teamwork, and trust in others. Ironically, these very qualities are many of the same issues we see with society today. If our entire community simply found a veteran that they could emulate, the world would be a different place. Having many veterans in my own family and many friends that have served in our military, I see first hand every day the type of person that our military veterans bring to our society. They are giving, caring, supporting, and kind. At any moment, a veteran would give something of their own so that a perfect stranger could benefit. Beyond the call of duty, our veterans are displaying personal traits that can improve all of our qualities of life as civilians, right in front of our eyes. The problem is, not enough of us are noticing. While serving our nation, they put their lives on the line to protect our way of life; and when they come home, they work to lead by example to improve our way of life. Emulating the lifestyle of service before self, caring, teamwork, trust, and the many other attributes that our military members possess will no doubt improve everyone's life. So, while we take a moment in time to say, "Thank You", to our veterans this week; let's also take a moment to be more like them each and every day. There is no better way to say thank you to an individual than to express gratitude through modeling. We know the answers. We have the leaders in our community. It's time to follow our veterans to a better life. Thank you all for all you have done and will continue to do in the future. Your approach to the world is an inspiration to us all. 


JROTC Basket Raffle

The Rome Free Academy Air Force JROTC will be holding their annual Basket Raffle on Sunday, November 18, in the RFA cafeteria. The JROTC Basket Raffle is one of their largest fundraisers for the year. The doors will open at 12:00 p.m. with bidding occurring from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. There are many door prizes and special drawings that also occur at the event. Complimentary appetizers and beverages will be served throughout the afternoon. Admission to the event is $5.

Coffee and Carols

On Wednesday, November 14, the RFA Chamber Orchestra and Select Choir will be presenting the first Coffee and Carols event in conjunction with Spressos. The event will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Spressos Coffeehouse and proceeds benefit both groups.Tickets are $8.00 (pre-sale) or $10.00 at the door. The menu for the event will be your choice of two homemade desserts, coffee or tea. What a great way to kick start the holiday season with some great music from our RFA musicians!!

RFA Open Mic Night 

On Tuesday, November 20, the RFA junior class will be holding the annual Open Mic Night at the RFA auditorium. This annual fundraiser has become a November tradition at RFA and an evening to enjoy some of our best talent throughout the school. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the fee for entrance is $8.00 or $7.00 with a canned good donation. Start the holiday season right with some enjoyment at the Open Mic Night!!

RFA Class Holiday Window Competition

In conjunction with our local JCP, who is a tremendous supporter of our local education, families, and students; each of the individual RFA cohorts has decorated a holiday window display at the local JCP as a fundraising event. The window paintings will be on display throughout the holiday season and you can vote for your favorite window in the store. The winning class will receive a $200 donation from JCP. Thank you to JCP for sponsoring such a fun event which brings the school and community together during the holiday season.  Students from each class volunteered their time and creative ability to design the best windows for Rome, so make sure to get out and vote for your favorite!


Parent Portal Information

As we come to the end of the first marking period and get ready to release the first report cards for the year, this is a reminder that we will be using Parent Portal to deliver the report cards for 2018-2019. In order to obtain your child's progress reports and report cards this year, you will need an account for parent portal. Once you log in, and a report has been published, you will easily be able to view these reports in your portal. If you do not already have an account, and would like to sign up for an account, please contact your child's school. For more information/assistance on using Parent Portal or the Rome City School District app, please visit the following website for video guides on both: Parent Portal / RCSD App Video Guides


STEM Career Exploration Events

This is a special opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)careers in CNY. Did you know that New York companies have more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) jobs than we can fill? And, the demand for new STEM graduates is twice the amount of non-STEM fields! Come join this exciting new program that will offer students the opportunity to explore various careers in STEM. Students, aged 12 and older, from any CNY School District, are invited to register. There is no cost for program – we want as many students as possible to be able to explore all that CNY has to offer in STEM careers! The format will consist of presentations, activities and discussions with STEM professionals. Event information is as follows:

November 1: SRC Inc. @ East Syracuse-Minoa H.S., 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

November 7: Aerospace Alliance @ Solvay H.S., 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

November 15: Marquardt Switches @ Stockbridge Valley H.S., 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


If you have any questions, please contact Joe Vargo at 448-1012 or joev@macny.org. To register for any of the events, please visit http://www.cnystem.com/careers/  

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Our Words Matter...

The phrase, "choose your worlds wisely," has been around for most likely since the beginning of time. While the phrase has historically been used in situations where someone's words may get them hurt, I am referring to the phrase while we are in the comfort or confines of our own homes and in public places. People may wonder why I care? The answer is simple: on an increasing basis, our youngest children are coming to school using language (in context) that is hurtful and inappropriate. The spike in use of foul language by students as young as 5 needs to be addressed by all of us. As you know, students spend minimal time each week in school, which is why it is important that our homes and community areas are free of language that young children shouldn't be using. Children learn more through the actions and behaviors in their lives than they do at school. While schools work to instruct students on standards and information that is mostly based in academia, many behaviors/actions are learned behaviors that come from places outside of the school and sometimes outside the home. While we all know that adults have the right to use inappropriate language when they are in adult situations, we have to work on getting back to a society where certain types of language are not acceptable in the main stream. Our children are growing up thinking that very hurtful and foul language is norm for our society. It is literally as easy as working to make sure that we as adults are not using language (or allowing our children to view shows/internet sites) that is littered with foul language. Our children can grow up in a society that is much more supportive and positive if we as adults simply work to help them understand that foul language is not a part of appropriate societal language. Our words do matter as our children are always learning and constantly trying to make their parents proud. It's inherent in the human species, so I ask you to please, choose your words wisely.

RFA Marching Band

CONGRATULATIONS to the RFA Marching Band! If you haven't heard by now, the RFA Marching Band won their first ever State Championship last weekend while competing at the Carrier Dome in the New York State Field Band Championships. The band has consistently been placing in the top 3 in recent years and was finally able to break through with a victory by 2 points over seven other schools. Congratulations to all of our students, staff, and volunteers that work with the band on this great achievement. RFA Pride!!

Parent Portal - Video Guide

As we come to the end of the first marking period and get ready to release the first report cards for the year, this is a reminder that we will be using Parent Portal to deliver the report cards for 2018-2019. In order to obtain your child's progress reports and report cards this year, you will need an account for parent portal. Once you log in, and a report has been published, you will easily be able to view these reports in your portal. If you do not already have an account, and would like to sign up for an account, please contact your child's school. For more information/assistance on using Parent Portal or the Rome City School District app, please visit the following website for video guides on both: Parent Portal / RCSD App Video Guides

Ridge Mills Craft Fair

On Saturday, November 10th, from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., the Ridge Mills PTG will be hosting their annual craft fair at Ridge Mills Elementary School. Catch some holiday spirit and do some holiday shopping at the one and only Ridge Mills Craft Fair! There will be over seventy crafters and vendors, plenty of parking and refreshments for sale in the cafeteria! For more information, please contact the school.

STEM Career Exploration Events

This is a special opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)careers in CNY. Did you know that New York companies have more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) jobs than we can fill? And, the demand for new STEM graduates is twice the amount of non-STEM fields! Come join this exciting new program that will offer students the opportunity to explore various careers in STEM. Students, aged 12 and older, from any CNY School District, are invited to register. There is no cost for program – we want as many students as possible to be able to explore all that CNY has to offer in STEM careers! The format will consist of presentations, activities and discussions with STEM professionals. Event information is as follows:




November 1: SRC Inc. @ East Syracuse-Minoa H.S., 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

November 7: Aerospace Alliance @ Solvay H.S., 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

November 15: Marquardt Switches @ Stockbridge Valley H.S., 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


If you have any questions, please contact Joe Vargo at 448-1012 or joev@macny.org. To register for any of the events, please visit http://www.cnystem.com/careers/