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Parents hope to save before school program at Lincoln

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The administration’s plans to limit the morning program at Lincoln Elementary School, 1515 Knox St., to two days a month has some parents upset.

The free program, which meets for a half-hour in the school’s gymnasium at the beginning of each school day, offers young students a chance to make presentations about the calendar, weather, and birthdays in front of family members and peers, will now be offered twice a month starting Monday. The program has been a tradition in district for over 40 years.

Ogdensburg Central School District Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey said Thursday he supports the decision which was made after an evaluation of the school by the Principal Jacquelyn L. Kelly and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kevin Kendall.

“It would allow for more instructional time in the classroom,” Mr. Vernsey said. “The program was taking up of upwards of 30 to 40 minutes of instructional time. We have to weigh what are the best uses of instruction time with common core standards and rigor that is expected of our students.”

But Mr. Vernsey said he isn’t in favor of canceling the program altogether.

“It’s a great way for parents and family to be involved in with their children’s education,” Mr. Vernsey said. “We would still like to keep them involved.”

But several parents say the program is an integral part of the curriculum, and should be held at least once a week.

Jennifer H. Davison, Ogdensburg, said her daughter, Brooke M. Davison, 5, looks forward to the program every school day.

“She really enjoys it,” Mrs. Davison said. “This is her first year. I work at school, and I have children come up to me and tell me they miss it and wish Kennedy had it.”

Heather M. Wells, Ogdensburg, said her children, Judson S. Wells, 6, Noah P. Wells, 5, were upset to hear the news that the program would no longer be offered every day.

“It’s very discouraging that this is the very last year for Lincoln school, and they can’t keep the program going for another nine months that the school is open,” Mrs. Wells said. “I am 27. I went to the program when I was younger. It’s not fair to take it away from the kids, teachers and parents who look forward to it. They are talking about doing it twice month. They should at least do it twice a week or every Friday.”

Terri L. Henry, Ogdensburg, said her son Adam S. Henry, 5, is the fourth of six children to attend the program in her family.

“All my children so far have enjoyed it,” Mrs. Henry said. “The morning program has always been a tradition for them. It’s really a great time for parents to go watch their children. It helps introduce the kids to public speaking and helps build community. It’s a special program. It’s not one you see every at every school. I don’t want to see it go.”

Rebecca M. Tortorella, Ogdensburg, said in just the last week of attending the program for the first time, her daughter, Annabella N. Tortorella, 5, has already become more confident.

“She is very, very shy,” Mrs. Tortorella said. “It’s a big step for her to speak in front of a gym full of students. I choked up. She has only been there for a week. I was amazed.”

Mrs. Tortorella has started petition and a Facebook page to save the program. She hopes to present her signatures and speak at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m.

“We know there are many upset parents and teachers out there,” Mrs. Tortorella said. “We hope they come out and support us.”

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