A Battle to the No. 1 Spot: Thousand Islands High School talent on the rise, with two players driving towards greatness

DAYTONA NILES / NNY GOLF
Matt Barton and Tyler Turgeon are two upcoming talents on the 2018 Thousand Island High School golf team.

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A Day at the Spa: Treatments in Northern New York vary in healing, health and simple pampering

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY MAGAZINES Jennifer Bach, owner of River Day Spa and Salon in Clayton, enjoys a facial at her salon on Riverside Drive overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

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A Day in the Life of an Instructor

ANTHONY MACHIA / NNY LIVING
Blake Dolan, Snow Ridge ski instructor, assists student Mason Lee down the hill.

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A Winter Playground: Northern New York thrives with activities

 

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Holiday Celebrations: Spread joy and cheer throughout Northern New York

WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES FILE PHOTO
A float for the Lost Navigator bar in Clayton makes its way down Riverside Drive during the Clayton Christmas Parade in 2016.

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A New Generation of Outdoor Enthusiasts

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY OUTDOORS

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Blending the Physical, Mental and Spiritual Being

JUSTIN SORENSEN / NNY LIVING
Liz Price-Kellogg practices yoga at the Clayton Opera House where she holds her weekly River Yoga classes.

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Spring 2016 Cover Story: Star Students

Service Above Self

IHC student Makenzie Kramer was a member of the Northern New York Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council last school year. The council awarded a grant to Children’s Miracle Network at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, to purchase new activity books for children at the hospital. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNy Living.

IHC student Makenzie Kramer was a member of the Northern New York Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council last school year. The council awarded a grant to Children’s Miracle Network at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, to purchase new activity books for children at the hospital. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

North country students are making a big impact in their schools and communities for the good of others

By Norah Machia, NNY Living

An increasing number of young people nationwide are choosing to volunteer their time and energy to help people in their own communities. Although the statistics may vary, many publications have reported that teenage volunteerism continues to be on the rise.

It’s no secret to parents and teachers that volunteer work can help students develop important character traits, including respect and compassion for others. And students themselves appear to be drawing the same conclusion. According to the AmeriCorps program, teenagers are twice as likely to volunteer now compared with the past few decades.

The north country is no exception. Every school district in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties has examples of students who have a strong passion for helping others. Here are just a few:

Makenzie L. Kramer, 17
Immaculate Heart Central School

After joining the Youth Philanthropy Council of the Northern New York Community Foundation last year, Makenzie L. Kramer gained a real appreciation for the financial struggles of nonprofit agencies.

“It was an eye-opener, I didn’t know what went on behind the scenes as far as funding,” said Makenzie, the daughter of Dr. Lawrence and Anne Kramer.

Makenzie was one of several students who served on the foundation’s council and, along with other members, she heard presentations from agencies seeking funding for a variety of causes.

“It was a great opportunity to try and help as many people as possible,” Makenzie said. “Many of these agencies are trying to serve the people who have the greatest needs.”

Last year, the NNY Community Foundation organized four youth philanthropy councils at Immaculate Heart Central, Watertown High School, Potsdam Central School and Ogdensburg Free Academy. Each was responsible for awarding $10,000 in grant funding, totaling $40,000 in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The council at IHC had awarded a variety of grants, including to local food banks (for purchase of personal care items), the Flower Memorial Library (for children and teen programming) and the Watertown Urban Mission (to set up a donation shed in the Carthage area).

A grant was also given to the Children’s Miracle Network at Samaritan Medical Center to purchase new activity books for children in the pediatric unit. The books have disposable pens that can be used to scratch off colors in the pictures.

This was a better option than traditional coloring books and crayons, because children can’t share crayons due to the risk of spreading germs, Makenzie said.

The IHC junior has also volunteered to spend time with elderly residents at Samaritan’s Summit Village, helping with outdoor visits, games, and even making ice cream floats.

“It really makes the residents so happy to have someone to visit them,” she said.

Makenzie has volunteered through the Faith-Based Community Service program at IHC, raking leaves for the elderly and holding bingo games for residents of nursing homes.

She is involved with the school’s Respect Life Initiative, which is presently raising money to help construct an all-girls school in Tanzania.

“We’re trying to raise money to help them build dorms,” she said. “We are also planning on corresponding with those students in the future.”

Makenzie and two friends, Macee Fay and Katey Kellogg, have also started a “She’s the First” chapter at their school to raise money to support girls in third world countries who want to be the first in their family to get a college education.

In addition to all her volunteer efforts, she was also a member of the IHC tennis team last fall and the lacrosse team this spring.

Makenzie, who is hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps one day and become a pulmonologist, also has a brother, Nicholas, 18, a pre-med student at St. John Fisher College in Rochester.

“I’m really interested in becoming a doctor because I want to help people,” said Makenzie, who has been following efforts of nonprofit organizations such as “Doctors without Borders” to help those who need medical care in third-world countries.

Romi LaClair, 12
South Jefferson Central Schools

South Jefferson Central School District student Romi LaClair, Watertown, created the “Cleats for Feet” organization to collect and distribute cleats to other north country children who cannot afford them. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Living.

South Jefferson Central School District student Romi LaClair, Watertown, created the “Cleats for Feet” organization to collect and distribute cleats to other north country children who cannot afford them. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Living.

During a league soccer practice in the fall of 2014, Romi LaClair noticed a few other players were slipping and falling on the field because they didn’t have the proper footwear — a pair of cleats.

She came home from practice that day, and still upset about the situation, she started rummaging through her family’s garage, looking for any pairs of cleats that were no longer being used by her or her two siblings. She wanted to donate them to the other players in the league.

That’s how Romi’s “Cleats for Feet” was launched, a project that has resulted in the donation of hundreds of gently worn cleats for students participating in soccer, football, baseball and softball leagues, and school sports teams.

To date, more than 100 pairs of cleats have been provided to students in the South Jefferson, Belleville/Henderson, Sackets Harbor, and Indian River Central School Districts, and the Watertown City School District.

Romi’s parents, Dr. Scott LaClair and K.I. LaClair, along with her siblings, Hunter, 15, and Ruby, 10, have given their support for the project. She has also received help from many others in the community.

Romi started collecting and distributing cleats through sign-up sessions held by Eastern Shore Soccer, Pop Warner Football and Little League teams.

“All the coaches have been very helpful with this project,” she said.

“Cleats for Feet” is not only for students whose parents may not be able to afford cleats, but it’s also for students whose parents would rather swap out cleats then buy new ones each year as their children’s feet grow. That effort is also helping keep excess textile waste out of the landfills.

The donated cleats must be in “gently used” condition, and they’re cleaned up before being redistributed.

The Watertown Fairgrounds YMCA staff have assisted with the “Cleats for Feet” effort, as they have many students who pass through their doors at the Fairgrounds YMCA for sports leagues, Romi said. The staff have helped to both collect and distribute cleats.

Steve Rowell, YMCA Health and Wellness director, and Schreene Babcock, YMCA volunteer coordinator, have been very supportive of her efforts, Romi said.

Recently, a donation of new football cleats was also made at the end of the season by Dick’s Sporting Goods, she added.

“It makes me feel really good to be able to help people this way,” Romi said.

Romi has also volunteered her time for the Rohde Community Center in Adams, and serves as the manager for the South Jefferson Central School varsity girls lacrosse team.

Her “Cleats for Feet” project was even given a boost by former Watertown City Manager Mary M. Corriveau. During her acceptance speech earlier this year for the Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award, Mrs. Corriveau refereed to Romi’s project as an example of future community volunteerism, and distributed business cards with contact information at the award dinner.

Anyone interested in donating or receiving cleats through the “Cleats for Feet” program can text or call Mrs. LaClair at 778-6533. Or check out the Facebook page: Facebook.com/cleatsforfeetNY

Tyler D. Eddy, 17
Harrisville Central School

Harrisville Central School District senior Tyler Eddy, 17, is involved with his school’s Environmental Club, and the Adopt-a-Highway Program in Lewis County. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Harrisville Central School District senior Tyler Eddy, 17, is involved with his school’s Environmental Club, and the Adopt-a-Highway Program in Lewis County. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Volunteering to help other people is “actually a way of helping out myself,” said Tyler D. Eddy, a senior at Harrisville Central School.

“My happiness is other people’s happiness,” Tyler said. “I’m always cheerful, and trying to make other people smile. That’s probably why I was voted class clown.”

In 10th grade, Tyler was asked to join the Lewis County Youth Advisory Council, which was established in 1997. The council includes government, non-government, and student representatives from across Lewis County. Members meet regularly to make recommendations to the Lewis County Board of Legislators, along with county departments, regarding services for youth.

“We have so much money per year, and we have to vote on the different programs that will get funded,” Tyler said.

Tyler, who plans to pursue a career in electrical engineering, is the son of Mark and Joanne Eddy of Harrisville. Mr. Eddy is a retired corrections officer and Mrs. Eddy is a bank teller at Community Bank. He also has an older brother, Jacob, 22, Harrisville.

The youth advisory board has approved funding for a variety of programs, including summer recreation and after-school programs at Harrisville Central. The programs offer numerous options for elementary age children, such as activities in the gym, reading, or computer lab, Tyler said.

Tyler has also volunteered for programs sponsored by the youth bureau, including the Homeless Christmas Tree Initiative and National Night Out.

He is also a member of the National Honor Society, the Adopt-a-Highway Program and the Environmental Club, whose members are planning to pick-up trash along Route 3 in the Town of Diana.

“We’re hoping to go from one border of the town across to the other border,” he said.

Tyler has also been active in school sports, having played both soccer and basketball. Last year, he served as score keeper for the basketball games, and this past season, he has volunteered to help set up and take down the gym between games. He also enjoys running, reading, video games, hunting and fishing.

Rachel E. Leach, 17
South Lewis Central School

Rachel Leach, 17, plays alto saxophone in her school band and volunteers to play with the Lowville Village Band. She the senior class Technical Honor Award winner this year at South Lewis Central School, Turin. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Rachel Leach, 17, plays alto saxophone in her school band and volunteers to play with the Lowville Village Band. She the senior class Technical Honor Award winner this year at South Lewis Central School, Turin. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Living.

Rachel Leach has a love of music, and shares that passion with others in her community.

The high school senior plays the alto saxophone in her school band, and has performed as a member of the Bi-County Band for Jefferson and Lewis counties. She recently started to play the tenor saxophone as well.

A few years ago, Rachel decided to join the Lowville Village Band, giving her the opportunity to gain more experience. But even more important, it has given her the chance to share her love of music with the community.

Village band members volunteer their time to perform at numerous events throughout Lewis County, including the annual Cream Cheese Festival held each summer in Lowville.
Rachel’s future plans include studying music in college.

“I’m planning to earn a doctorate degree and become a music professor,” she said.

In addition to her musical interests, Rachel has spent much of her time volunteering for environmental causes in her community. In the process, she has developed a strong interest in recycling and organic gardening.

Rachel is president of her school’s environmental club, “Students Against a Vanishing Environment.” Some of their work starts within their own school building.

“We regularly collect paper, bags, cans and bottles in the classrooms,” she said. “We have a truck that comes to the school to pick up all the recyclables.”

Rachel is the senior class Technical Honor Award winner this year at South Lewis Central School, Turin. She is enrolled in the culinary arts program through Jefferson-Lewis BOCES and is the daughter of Lisa Baxter, Port Leyden. She has an older sister, Rebecca Roberts, 20, Boonville.

As secretary of the National Honor Society, she has also volunteered her time for the Lyons Falls Alive River Clean-up. As part of a government class, Rachel has participated in service projects at the Humane Society and the WPBS Public Television Station, Watertown.

Rachel also has a strong interest in organic farming, and spent the past two summers volunteering at the Maris Farm community garden in Constableville, where she and several others have grown vegetables for the local food pantries.

“I’m very interested in promoting fresh produce that is not sprayed with harsh chemicals,” she said. “If you grow it yourself, you know it hasn’t been sprayed.”

Jack P. Kelly, 17
Ogdensburg Free Academy

Ogdensburg Free Academy students Abigail Marshall, left, and Jack Kelly hold pajamas outside Abigail’s house. Jack has been a big supporter of the “PJs 4 Xmas” program started by Abigail and her sister. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Living.

Ogdensburg Free Academy students Abigail Marshall, left, and Jack Kelly hold pajamas outside Abigail’s house. Jack has been a big supporter of the “PJs 4 Xmas” program started by Abigail and her sister. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Living.

One of the biggest challenges that Jack P. Kelly faced when he served on the Youth Philanthropy Council of the Northern New York Community Foundation was deciding which nonprofit agencies would receive funding, he said.

“There were more agencies requesting money than we could select,” Jack said. “It was a tough choice, everyone had a strong message to share.”

After listening to presentations and reading through paperwork, the students decided that funding should be directed to “the projects we felt were most important in the community,” he said.

Jack advocated for one of those projects. “PJs 4 Xmas,” to receive grant money through the OFA chapter of the Youth Philanthropy Council. His classmate, Abigail Marshall, and her sister, Camille Marshall, had started the project in 2009 as a way to ensure that needy children in St. Lawrence County would wake up with new pajamas on Christmas morning.

In 2012, the Ogdensburg sisters were able to turn their organization into a certified nonprofit, delivering more than 1,760 pairs of pajamas to children across the county that year.

The sisters were even able to use a converted FedEx truck they purchased for $1,000 to deliver the pajamas to several community organizations in Heuvelton, Canton and Ogdensburg.

“I really felt their message of helping less fortunate kids at Christmas,” said Jack, a high school junior.

He was also impressed that the sisters, one of whom was his age, were so successful in “making a difference in their community.”

Jack, who is interested in becoming a general practitioner, is the son of Jeff Kelly, information technology director at Canton Central School, and Andrea Kelly, real estate broker with Bruyere Chadwick Realty LLC. He has two younger siblings, Connor, 14, and Caitlin, 11.

He is also a member of Key Club, and through that organization he and other students have been volunteering to preserve and maintain the Kids Kingdom playground, a large wooden playground in Morissette Park.

Jack has also volunteered to maintain the Maple City Trail, a local walking and jogging trail, and has helped with the annual “Lights on the River” fundraiser held during the holidays.

At OFA, Jack is a member of the football, hockey and lacrosse teams.

Marc Tessier, 16
Massena Central School

Marc Tessier has been volunteering at the Massena Neighborhood Center for the past seven years. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Living.

Marc Tessier has been volunteering at the Massena Neighborhood Center for the past seven years. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Living.

One day when Marc Tessier was volunteering at the food pantry operated out the Massena Neighborhood Center, he paused to take a look at all the canned fruit being distributed to needy individuals and families.

“I thought to myself, we could give them something better,” said Marc, a junior at Massena Central School.

Marc had already been involved in a vegetable growing project for the food pantry, helping to plant tomatoes, cabbage and cauliflower. But he wanted to take it one step further and try planting fruit trees.

He planted 10 apple trees and 10 pear trees on land next to the neighborhood center, which is one of several operated with assistance from the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program.

The CDP is a private, nonprofit agency that offers assistance throughout St. Lawrence County, including neighborhood centers, Head Start preschool programs, and weatherization services.

It was incorporated in 1965 to help low-income families work toward self-sufficiency. The agency encourages community participation in many of its programs.

It was two years ago that Marc planted those fruit trees, and he has returned each season to maintain them. This is the first spring that the apple trees are starting to yield fruit, Marc said.

“I really thought it would be better to offer people fresh fruit rather than canned,” he said.

Marc is the son of Michael and Elaine Tessier, Massena. He is planning to enter the automotive field after high school graduation.

In addition to helping stock shelves and distribute food at the neighborhood center, he has also volunteered to deliver boxes of food during the holiday season to residents who are not able to drive to the center.

“I really enjoy volunteering,” said Marc. “I know what I’m doing will really help someone out. That’s a good feeling.”

Marc is also a member of his school’s robotics team and the rifle team.

Norah Machia is a freelance writer who lives in Watertown. She is a 20-year veteran journalist and former Watertown Daily Times reporter. Contact her at norahmachia@gmail.com

Holiday 2015 Cover Story: Keeping holiday traditions bright

Light displays, performances top north country’s seasonal offerings

This festive pirate ship won best display in 2012. The sixth annual Lights on the River is set for Dec. 12 to 22 at the Lisbon Beach Camping Grounds, Ogdensburg.

This festive pirate ship won best display in 2012. The sixth annual Lights on the River is set for Dec. 12 to 22 at the Lisbon Beach Camping Grounds, Ogdensburg.

By Norah Machia, NNY Living

Many traditions are celebrated by north country residents to mark the holidays, and this year is no exception. These events are often made possible by organizations or businesses whose members volunteer their time to help people commemorate the season. Some events are free, others have an admission charge, and many benefit the community as well. [Read more…]

Spring 2015: 36 Hours Toronto

Explore Canada’s largest city next door

By Norah Machia

Graffiti art covers the walls of a city alley. Photo by AFM  Photography.

Graffiti art covers the walls of a city alley. Photo by AFM Photography.

Toronto offers unparalleled cross-border fun

Toronto is the largest city in Canada, with a population of more than five million people in the greater metropolitan area. This bustling, multi-cultural city is situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and is considered one of Canada’s top tourist destinations. It’s also the location of the largest financial center in the country. [Read more…]