2 pointsAs many of you know, among the other things I do I'm also a part time musician. I've been blessed to experience some of the things I once dreamed about. I've met and performed with people I once only knew through the radio. The lights, the crowds... I've been blessed. One of the best, and lesser known, things about what we do is getting to be part of the celebrations in peoples' lives. I don't know how many weddings, anniversary parties, retirement parties, etc. we've done over the past 17 years or more specifically, nearly 12 for me personally. These are kind of different from the bars or festivals where people are there to see us, we're not the main event. In a way, it's kinda weird, because we often start the day as outsiders. Yet more often than not we're still drawn in, and we're "family". We've become good friends with people whose celebrations we've been the soundtrack for. It's hard to explain, but there's something special about getting to do that. Every once in a while though, a moment comes along that we aren't really expecting. A special moment for someone that wasn't planned, it just happened. This past weekend was one of those moments. I'll let you in on a little secret: Every band has a schtick, some things they'll throw in to a performance that perhaps were once spontaneous but got such a reactions someone thought, "Hmm, we need to remember that." Often these will come out when the room needs a little energizing. It's not an uncommon thing for our fiddle player to find his way playing on top of a table or bar. ( While people are watching him, I'm watching the staff or owners of the establishment. The looks on their faces are often pretty entertaining. ) This weekend he ended up with company while doing so: At the end of the night as we were packing up, he came over to say goodnight. Introduced himself and said he's 86 years old, just had hip surgery this past year. He gave me a big hug, thanked us for the music, and left. No sir, thank you. You know, the world around us seems to have gone insane. We're told every day how bad people are. Lord knows I've been feeling like packing up and moving to the mountains somewhere, away from anyone. But then something like this happens, often when I need it most. I get to see people at their best, brought together by the common bond of music and celebration, and everything is just fine, if only for a couple hours. I feel so fortunate to have that opportunity. I don't remember this man's name, I'm awful at remembering them. He may or may not remember mine. But in some strange, cosmic way, we're forever a part of each other's lives now, part of each other's memories. Long after the very last note's played, when he's gone and I'm an old man myself, I'll remember that one night night some old guy climbed up on a table and danced to the music. I'll smile. He'll be alive still. Still dancing. That's pretty damned cool.
1 pointThe Elmira High School will host a Financial Literacy Fair, open to the public, on Friday January 12 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. in the library. Students in the Personal Finance course, as part of the Academy of Finance program, are sponsoring the event. This event is free and open to students and adults. The program will focus on financial literacy concepts and strategies. “The students have organized this Financial Literacy Fair to teach students and adults about important issues in personal finance they have learned this semester and how it can change their lives in becoming independent citizens,” says Cheryl Sweeney, Elmira High School Business Teacher and co-advisor to the Future Business Leaders of America student group. “Our hope is that this Financial Literacy Fair will help students become self-sufficient independent citizens as well as future leaders who are preparing for finance careers or post-secondary programs in the finance industry,” says Garrett Johnson, a sophomore in the Academy of Finance at Elmira High School. The Elmira High School recently announced the launch of the new Academy of Finance program. The Academy of Finance, a member of the NAF (National Academy Foundation) Network, is a three-year program that combines required, industry-based classes with work experience. Those accepted into the program will take specialized classes and have the opportunity to work in a paid summer internship at a local business or industry-specific related organization. Based in New York City, NAF is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing education, business, and community leaders together to transform the high school experience. NAF’s educational design ignites students’ passion for learning and gives businesses the opportunity to shape America’s future workforce by transforming the learning environment to include STEM infused industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experiences, including internships. “At the Elmira High School Academy of Finance (AOF), the program engages students by using Business and Finance as a lens through which everyday problems are analyzed, approached and solved. Students learn how to think as professionals and rediscover the wonder and joy of learning,” says Cheryl Sweeney, Business Teacher for the Academy at Elmira High School. The program is open to all Elmira High School students in Grade 10-12 and the required coursework falls under electives needed for graduation. The elective courses include Personal Finance, Accounting, Business in a Global Economy and Professional Ethics. Students are supported to meet the Academy of Finance requirements through one-on-one mentoring with business teachers, other high school staff and business professionals. The Academy of Finance operates a mission to “develop future leaders who are prepared for finance or related post-secondary programs and careers through a rigorous, industry standard curriculum, work-based learning program and collaboration with our community and business partners.” The 2017-2018 school year is year-one of what district officials call “a long-term program.” There are currently 15 tenth grade students enrolled and this educational design has the ability to enroll between 50-75 students per grade level. NAF facilitates the “Academy of Finance” program across the nation and high schools apply to be under the national organization’s umbrella. Elmira High School applied last year and spent the 2016-2017 academic year planning the Academy’s implementation. Elmira High School “graduated” from the program in May and has since launched the program to students. The most significant element of the Academy of Finance is the completion of a 120 hour paid internship. The internship is a culmination of a sequence of work-based-learning activities and meant to put into practice the career skills gained throughout the NAF curriculum and AOF program. And having a Corning Credit Union Branch office located inside Elmira High School makes internship opportunities easier. Students can fulfill internship hours at our student-run credit union, through which students are recruited, trained, and coached to represent our school location as volunteer tellers serving students and faculty. Students that complete all Elmira High School “Academy of Finance” graduation requirements are eligible to graduate from National Academy of Finance. Community support is imperative to the success of this program. Our academy relies on high level support and the highest caliber leadership from its advisory board and local partners. Throughout the 2016-2017 Planning Year, a design team of community partners was developed in order to make sure resources and programs were aligned. This preparatory work helps establish a sustainable foundation and ensures student success. In addition to Elmira School District educators, the design team is made up of business leaders in our community including representatives from Chemung Canal Trust Company, H and H Financial Group, Corning Community College, Corning Credit Union, Elmira Savings Bank, and Chemung County Chamber of Commerce. Enrollment is open to every student and to remain active in the Academy, students will meet certain academic and behavioral requirements throughout their involvement. Students can obtain an Academy of Finance application through their School Counselor.