Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Little Reflection...

As the month of February comes to a close, it is important to reflect on the fact that this is Black History Month. Throughout the country, including several in our own city of Rome, there have been awareness events, celebrations, and opportunities for us all to learn something about the struggles that all minorities have faced in our society, and unfortunately continue to face today. For the first time in many years, our country is becoming increasingly divided by the hate known as racism. We are all human beings. We all live in the same great country. We should all be provided with the same opportunities to excel in life; regardless of the color of our skin, pronunciation of our last name, or where we grew up. Recent events that have happened in Chicago certainly do not help some people understand the concept of bias, privilege, and racism. I have heard many comments that attempt to paint all minorities with a negative conception due to the actions of one individual. This is simply not fair or right. One person does not signify an entire population of human beings. During this month, we have an opportunity to learn more about the history of blacks in our country and abroad. Without an understanding of why certain individuals feel oppressed or discriminated against, you can never begin to work to help the problem. We all have biases. Whether they are racial, gender oriented, athletic, academic, etc. Bias exists all around us and it always will. However, we can work to improve ourselves and our society when are willing to recognize our biases and work to counteract them. It is one of the most challenging things for any human being to do, but admitting we have a bias and working to ensure that we are not acting on our biases can be done. While I myself am not a minority, I do have family and close friends that cover every possible minority classification. It isn't until you are placed in a situation to be made uncomfortable that you can remotely begin to understand what blacks and minorities are faced with in our country every day. No one in this world asked to be discriminated against. No one in this world asked to be placed in the minority. The fact is, the terminology minority and majority should not even exist. We are all one. We are all human beings attempting to make the most of the precious life we have been granted. It is time to reflect on our biases and actions in life so we can attempt to begin improving our society. One of the best parts about the Rome community is our diversity. We have a golden opportunity to learn from and embrace many cultures, lifestyles, and personalities. Take time to reflect on your life and what you value/wish to accomplish in life. Let's work together to make our society the first truly inclusive society around! 

Congratulations RFA Top Ten

The Rome Free Academy Top Ten Class of 2019 was announced on Thursday, February 14th. One of the most challenging tasks for any student to accomplish is performing at the top of their class academically. For the 150th graduating class of RFA, the Valedictorian is Kelly Boyer, with a weighted average of 101.73 and the Salutatorian is Izabella Rivera, with a weighted average of 101.32. The remaining students in the top ten are Anthony Acosta (101.11), John George (100.79), Tejas Desai (99.73), Ruqiyah Shaik (99.62), Justine Cammer (98.79), Patrick Balog (98.32), Preston Mecca (98.01) and Calla Reilley (97.95). Congratulations to the top ten! In addition to the top ten, two students have advanced to Finalist standing in the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP). Kelly Boyer and John George received a certificate of merit on Thursday from the NMSP by demonstrating through distinguished performance high potential for future academic accomplishment. Congratulations to all students and enjoy the final few months of high school!

Read Across America Week

Read Across America Day is held each year on March 2, Dr. Seuss's birthday. It was developed by the National Education Association to bring everyone together to celebrate reading. The Rome City School District will be celebrating Read Across America Week to celebrate literacy across the district on February 25 to March 1. There is a theme day for each day of the week from one of Dr. Seuss's books. On Friday, March 1 everyone in the district will drop everything and read from 1:45 p.m.  to 2:00 p.m. in observance of Read Across America Day. The goal is for students to see that everyone in the district is a reader no matter what their role is in the school. A copy of the flyer for the week is HERE, or you can see below for the listing of events for the week. 

62nd Annual Rome Science Fair 

The 62nd Annual Rome Science Fair is open to the public on Saturday, March 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Rome Free Academy. The theme for this year’s science fair is “Look to the Stars”. There will be awards in the Senior Science Fair (7-12 grades) and awards totaling over $12,000 dollars! The Senior Science Fair covers 14 different categories, six different grades (7-12), three Specialty Awards, Team Awards, and the Grand Prize is a 2-year scholarship from MVCC ($8,500 value). The Rome Science Fair is a whole community event so stop on by to check out the exhibits! Questions can be directed to: Dr. Paul Phister, Co-Chair of the Rome Science Fair, 315-339-3113.

Best Tech Practices

Our information technology department continues to help educate folks on things related to technology and the cyber world that could be common occurrences or mistakes that people make online. This month, their tidbits are related to understanding the difference between phishing, vishing, and smishing. On an every increasing basis, cyber pirates are attempting to gain access to bank accounts and steal your information. In an effort to help you stay informed, please see this brief information page on what to be looking for as it relates to phishing, vishing, and smishing.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

It Isn't Easy...

On an increasing basis, it is becoming more and more challenging to be a parent. The children of this generation have access to information, sights, videos, and words that many of us have a hard time believing. Almost every individual (adult or child) have multiple social media accounts for the vast array of platforms that exist, and within those platforms, many teenagers have multiple accounts in an attempt to keep their information hidden from parents. This shouldn't be a surprise as children have attempted to hide things from their parents for eternity. The difference today is that social media makes it all that more challenging to ensure that our children are being safe online. While most parents understand that social media and the internet is a part of our children's life forever, we don't always have a great handle on how to help our kids be safe with their digital footprint. While Facebook tends to be the most used platform for adults, most children are no longer utilizing Facebook. Believe it or not, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram are the main platforms that most kids are engaging with. And while internet/social media usage is becoming more safe, the number one concern for all parents remains the mistake of a child giving out their personal information online. Beyond the danger of kids making an online mistake that has immediate ramifications, helping our children understand the concept of a digital footprint that could haunt them forever is a significant challenge. Our entire society, adults included, has developed into a world where we want immediate answers, immediate satisfaction. The concept of patience and or delayed gratification are all but gone with today's generation. Most children have trouble understanding how actions/incidents that occur today have any relationship to next week. Helping them understand that their online interactions and actions today could impact their live's in 10 years is next to impossible to help them understand. Fortunately for us parents, there are plenty of research projects underway and many parenting websites that can help us understand the current trends of online life. While no parent wants to feel like they are "spying" on their children, keeping in touch with the activities that are children are engaging with online is of utmost importance. Many times, it requires us as parents to leave our comfort zone and learn more about social media, including the platforms that most kids are using that we are afraid to learn. Regardless of the approach, parenting in the 21st century is more challenging than ever. It certainly isn't easy, but when we work together to help learn more about being a kid of the current generation, the better the opportunity our kids have of growing up with a clean digital footprint.  

Black History Month Event

On Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 p.m., the Rome Historical Society will be presenting a program in conjunction with the African American Heritage Association entitled, "Growing Up in Rome as African Americans." The event will be held at the Historical Society Museum which is located at 200 Church Street. For more information about this event, please contact the historical society or visit their website at 

RACC Event

The Rome Art and Community Center (RACC) will be hosting a Family Fun Day on Monday, February 18, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The center will be providing information about their youth programming, cookie decorating for children, have a game center with board games, an arts& crafts center, face painting and more! The RACC is located at 308 W. Bloomfield Street. For more information, please view their flyer here: RACC Family Fun Day

Kindergarten Registration 

Registration for 2019-2020 Kindergarten students will be held from March 4 through March 8 from 9:10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. each day. All kindergarten registrations will take place out the student's home school, based on residence. An evening registration event is also available on Wednesday, March 6, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and will be held at the District Offices. For more information, including required documentation for registration please follow this link:  KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION INFORMATION

Winter Recess Reminder

A reminder that the week of February 18 through February 22 is our winter recess week. School will not be in session this week. Regular classes will resume on Monday, February 25.

Parent Portal Information

As the first semester has concluded, we have received an increased number of questions regarding Parent Portal. As a reminder, 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

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Super Sunday...

Super Sunday is traditionally a day where most Americans huddle around television screens, take part in some good food, laughs, and football! While today may be no exception for many, it is also a super day for our students, staff, and families at Rome Free Academy. On this Super Sunday, I would like to acknowledge the amazing work of our dedicated faculty, support staff, administrators, and families in the Rome community. This week, the State Education Department (SED) formally released the 2018 four-year graduation statistics, and RFA posted a rate of 82%. While this may not seem like something to rejoice over to some, it is the highest four-year graduation rate for RFA since 2001-2002. It has once again improved over the year before which makes the fourth consecutive year that the graduation rate has risen. A short five years ago, the graduation rate was an all-time low at 70%. The work that the staff at the high school has been doing in these five years to increase that percentage to 82% deserves a ton of praise. As does the work of all of our educators in Rome. We all know that education starts at home and in the elementary buildings. The work of your team members in the elementary schools is also to be recognized, as they are the ones instilling the love and desire for learning that is being carried through middle school and through high school. Finally, beyond the staff of the school district that are working each and every day to prove to the world that Rome is a community worth raising your child in, our families at home have been instrumental in helping to achieve this graduation rate. We are fortunate to have a community that cares about education and wants the best for the children. Whether it be the conversations that our students are having in passing with our custodians, clerical staff, or SSO's, or the direct instruction in the content areas that is provided by our teachers; the team that exists within our schools is providing a high quality education to our children and the data shows it. Congratulations Rome Free Academy and I am honored to say that I work for each and every one of you! I can't wait for the day when we are touting the 90% mark and then the first large school to reach the 100% mark. I appreciate the hard work from each and every team member and thank you all for the continued work to making the Rome City School District the best school district in the State of New York!!

American Heart Association Run/Walk

On Saturday, February 9th, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, the American Heart Association will be hosting their 17th annual walk/run event at Rome Free Academy. The indoor walk also includes an outdoor run! Besides the walk/run, they will be holding a Heath Expo and several “Sydney’s Circle” events taking place in the gym. The American Heart Association has been very active in the Mohawk Valley and in Rome, providing support for many many people over the years. Let's get behind this fantastic cause and show our support. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m. For more information or to register your team for the walk/run, please visit  

Pre-K Registration

Registration for the 3-year-old and 4-year-old 2019-2020 pre-K programs will be held from March 4 through March 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day. An evening registration event is also available on Wednesday, March 6, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, including required documentation for registration please follow this link:                  PRE-K REGISTRATION INFORMATION

BOCES Family Welcome Center 

The BOCES Consortium of Continuing Education (BCCE) has received a federal grant to create a Literacy Zone in the City of Rome and operate a Family Welcome Center at its Rome ACCESS Site. It is the third Literacy Zone that BCCE operates. Literacy Zones are reform initiative intended to help close the achievement gap in communities with high rates of poverty and low levels of literacy. Literacy Zone providers offer or coordinate services to help address literacy deficits in their designated community, including high school equivalency preparation, family literacy support, English as a Second Language programs, workforce development program, interagency connections, transition support for veterans, out-of-school youth and adults leaving incarceration settings, and support for senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and families living in poverty. A calendar with a schedule of community presentations is on the wall at RAS and most students have been attending most of the events, Sebastian said. Topics have included smoke detectors in the home, parenting support groups, healthy relationships, flu shots, properly using car seats, nutrition, transportation, financial literacy and a variety of other issues. For more information, please follow this link: BOCES FAMILY WELCOME CENTER