Dedication and drive key to success of Miss Thousand Islands Pageant

Miss Thousand Islands Kristina A. Blackstock plants green beans with, from left, Dominic Berger, Kayden Craytor and Wyatt Dixon last week to Ohio Elementary School in Watertown. Miss Blackstock will be in the Miss New York State Pageant later this month. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Miss Thousand Islands Kristina A. Blackstock plants green beans with, from left, Dominic Berger, Kayden Craytor and Wyatt Dixon last week to Ohio Elementary School in Watertown. Miss Blackstock will be in the Miss New York State Pageant later this month. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

The road for teen girls to becoming the next Miss Thousand Islands has begun with hopefuls sending in applications to organizers of the pageant, held each August at the Clayton Opera House. [Read more…]

Spring 2016: Fashion

Prom fashion made simple

Caitlin Archibald, 15, an intern at A Touch of Grace, Watertown, displays an open-back prom dress. Open-back dresses are a popular style this prom season. Photo by AFM Photography.

Caitlin Archibald, 15, an intern at A Touch of Grace, Watertown, displays an open-back prom dress. Open-back dresses are a popular style this prom season. Photo by AFM Photography.

From style selection to DIY, local experts say choices shouldn’t overwhelm when searching for the perfect formal dress

By Katie Machia, NNY Living

Kathy Lettiere, owner of A Touch of Grace, 440 Coffeen St., Watertown, has worked with many mothers and daughters searching for the perfect prom dress since she opened her store 20 years ago.

Mrs. Lettiere offers some helpful advice to avoid potential conflicts.

“The girl needs to express her own individual style,” she said “She really has to love the dress.”

While mothers can give their daughters some guidance, they should be careful “not to press them to choose the style and color that they personally like” if their daughter does not have the same opinion, Mrs. Lettiere said.

“You don’t want your daughter to buy a prom dress and think back in years to come that she liked the dress, but did not really love it,” she said.

Sometimes money may be an issue. If the dress cost more than the parent’s budget, “you could offer to pay half, and have your daughter pay half,” she said.

It’s not unusual for a girl to first come into the store, looking at dresses with her friends and after finding the “right one,” returning with her mother to get her approval, Mrs. Lettiere said.

Staff at A Touch of Grace keep a registry of the prom dresses sold, and they will not sell the same dress to two girls who are planning to attend the same prom. Not only will they not sell the same style, but they won’t sell the same style even if it’s in a different color, said Mrs. Lettiere.

A Touch of Grace offers dresses in sizes zero to 30 and carries designers such as Alfred Angelo, DaVinci, Jovani, LaFemme, Sidney’s Closet and many others. In 2011, the store added a dress showroom to expand its inventory and the number of dressing rooms.

Some of the most requested styles at A Touch of Grace have included two-piece dresses, beaded dresses, and those with open backs, Mrs. Lettiere said.

According to major fashion publications, other prom dress trends this spring include:

  • Cutouts — Cutouts are one of the most popular trends this season. From a subtle cutout on the back to cutouts on the sides of a gown, these will surely be a popular look at your prom. There are so many different variations to the size and shapes of these cutouts, you’re guaranteed to find one that suits you best.
    n One-color dresses — In recent years, it’s been all about sparkly, glittery, shiny gowns. There is more of a movement toward one-color, more simple pieces. If you’re going for a simple gown, make sure there is more emphasis on the shape of the dress. Red, black, white and dark blue are some of the most popular colors for this trend.
  • Two-piece dresses — You can thank Taylor Swift for the popularization of this trend. Since her appearance at the Grammy Awards this year in a colorful two-piece look, this has been predicted to be one of the most popular prom dress styles. Celebrities including Emma Stone, Sarah Hyland and even Rihanna have been seen wearing this style. This is the perfect way to show off some skin while still keeping things classy. You can wear this with a long sleeve or strappy top and a short skirt or long skirt for the bottom.
  • Floral prints — Floral prints are having a moment this year. The ultra-feminine style can be on the bodice, skirt or even the entire pattern of the gown. The bolder the print, the better, it seems this season. This print has always been popular, but seems to be a hit now more than ever.
  • Sheer — The sheer material trend has grown in recent years. This style is a perfect way to get those ball gown aspects in your look without wearing a full skirt. Generally, this style is seen on the bottom of the dress, usually with an intricate floral lace pattern meshing in with it. It can also be used as a top layer over the original pattern of the dress. Finally, it can be used for paneling on a dress, for the appearance of cutouts without the actual cutting out of the material.
  • Off-the-shoulder — This trend is not only big in everyday wear, but also in the evening wear segment. This style can be seen on a one-piece or a two-piece dress. The material can be a beaded, printed, or have a lace design. This is a perfect way to ensure you have a unique cut to the top of your dress.
  • High slits — This style was made famous by Angelina Jolie at the Oscars in 2012. Since then, designers and celebrities have been including this style in their looks for almost every red carpet event. The rule of thumb for a high slit is to make sure there is coverage everywhere else, and this style is bound to make a statement.
  • High-low split skirt styles — Another trend made famous by Taylor Swift is the high-low split skirt style. This style is perfect for dancing. Your legs aren’t restricted by a tight dress, but you have the long material in the back to keep the dress fancy looking.

 


A style all their own

Kyra Philbrick, 17, an 11th-grade student at Watertown High School, sews the lining of her prom dress. “I’ve been planning this since I started sewing,” she said of the dress she plans to wear next year. Photo by AMF Photography.

Kyra Philbrick, 17, an 11th-grade student at Watertown High School, sews the lining of her prom dress. “I’ve been planning this since I started sewing,” she said of the dress she plans to wear next year. Photo by AMF Photography.

Students craft prom, homecoming dresses

Some high school students choose to create their own prom or homecoming dresses, rather than buying them.

Susan Lauraine, Watertown High School family and consumer science teacher, has been teaching for more than 27 years. She has allowed students to make their own dresses as part of a graded project.

“This is a two-semester elective class, and the first semester is clothing core,” she said. “We cover the history and the cycles of fashion, how fibers are made, and how the sewing machine works.”

The second semester is clothing production, and that’s when students have the opportunity to make a dress for a special occasion, such as a prom or homecoming dance.

“There are not a lot, maybe one or two a year, and it’s not every year,” Mrs. Lauraine said. “It’s a lot of work and can be costly.”

But for those who choose the option, it can be a very rewarding way to express their creativity and originality, along with showing off their fashion design and sewing skills, she said.

While the choice of fabrics and designs has changed over the years, “students have always like shiny and glittery,” she said.

“I always say concentrate on what looks good,” Mrs. Lauraine said. “Aim for simple designs with awesome fabrics.”
She recalled some dresses made by former Watertown High School students.

“Donna Sanders made a dress out of netting with hula hooping, there was just a bodysuit underneath,” she said.

“Alex Smith also created a dress three years ago. She had phenomenal skills. The dress was a classic design, fit perfect, and wasn’t outlandish.”

Kyra Philbrick, 17, is a junior at Watertown High School and just recently started working on her prom dress for next year.

“I’ve been planning this since I started sewing,” she said. “I want to have my own original dress.”

Her dress will be a strapless, gold-colored “high-low split skirt” with a russet brown lining.

Although she is not making a prom dress, Chynna Tucker, 15, is working on a dress to wear for the next homecoming dance. She just started it a few days ago.

“I think it’s going to be a fun, yet challenging task,” she said.
Her homecoming dress will be a long style with a chiffon glittery yoke, a bunched midriff and a bunched skirt.

There are 12 students in Mrs. Lauraine’s class, three boys and nine girls. The boys have been making bow ties and pocket scarves, and the girls have been working on evening bags.

Some of her past students have continued on with careers in fashion and costume design, with several attending colleges in New York City following their WHS graduation.

Mrs. Lauraine’s family and consumer science class recently made approximately 50 costumes for the school’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” last month.

An upcoming project will focus on sewing dresses for underprivileged girls in Africa, as a way to help promote self-esteem, Mrs. Lauraine said.

Katie Machia, 18, is a Watertown native and freshman at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She writes about fashion on her blog, theaisleofstyle.com, and is a regular contributor to NNY Living. She also models for print and runway shows. Contact her at theaisleofstyle@gmail.com.

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

Five Things Friday – Feb. 27

Happy Friday! February’s coming to an end. Make the most of the end of the season!

[Just click an event title to see more details.] [Read more…]

Five Things Friday – Nov. 14

Happy Friday! We’ve survived our first snow of the year. November is almost half over (where has the time gone?!). Thanksgiving will be here soon, and Christmas won’t be long after that! As for this weekend though, here are the highlights of what’s going on in the north country…

1) Shop to Share 

This is a night of tastings and crafts: wine, beer and liquor, crafts.  All donated items will be given to local schools and churches as part of Bonnie Castle’s year of “pay it forward.” For more info, call 482-4511 or 800-955-4511.

  • Beat the Black Friday Rush Sale: Today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the hospital lobby of the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center214 King St., Ogdensburg.

There will be a wide variety of locally made items including fall and Christmas decorations, house hold items, personal items, doll clothes, items for babies and much more. All proceeds benefit the hospital auxiliary. For more info, call 393-1559.

The event features raffles, bake sale, vendors, crafters and photographs. Benefits Ogdensburg Relay for Life. For more info, call Greg Denny at 528-1031.

This event is hosted by North Country Spouses’ Club to benefit NCSC scholarship fund and community outreach grants. For more info, email NCSCCraftFair@gmail.com.

  • Your Dream Boutique: Tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Trinity Church Macsherry Center, 227 Sherman St., Watertown.

Come check out new, unique, designer clothes, shoes and accessories. The bouique benefits Watertown Urban Mission. For more info, call 782-8440.

2) Be Healthy, Be Happy

The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad is running free blood pressure and blood glucose clinics.

  • View Yoga Classes: Today from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., and 10 a.m. to noon; tomorrow from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the View (Arts Center) Old Forge, 3273 Route 28, Old Forge. Cost: $10 per class; $7, members; $75; $55, members, monthly rate for unlimited classes.

A variety of classes are offered all week at the Arts Center. Preregistration is required. For more info, call 369-6411, ext. 201 or email info@viewarts.org.

  • Community yoga: Tomorrow from 9 to 10 a.m. at Yoga Loft, 30 Court St., Canton. Cost: $5.
This is a basic Hatha Yoga class for all levels of ability; no experience necessary. For more info, email info@yoga-loft.org or call 605-8637.
Meet at the trail head and enjoy the great outdoors. For more info, call 705-5022 or email ncrebirth@yahoo.com.

There will  be music by Adirondack Playboys and refreshments available. For more info, call 629-4931.

3) Appreciate the Arts

  • Artists’ Studio TourTomorrow and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days throughout the north country.
Presented by St. Lawrence County Arts Council, this self-guided tour takes you through artists’ studios in Hammond, Morristown, Ogdensburg, DeKalb Junction, Canton, Norwood, Potsdam, Colton, Parishville. For a list of studios, visit www.slcartscouncil.org > Calendar > Studio Tour. For more info, call 265-6860 or email arts@slcartscouncil.org.
Stop by for the art show and sale, with music by Capo3. For more info, call 348-8119. 

This exhibit contains the best new work by MAA members. It includes several award-winning pieces, and the work used in selecting the “Artist of the Year” for 2014-15. For more info, call 769-9914.

  • Adirondack Detective Series Exhibit: all weekend at Gallery/Quilt room, Old Forge Library, 220 Cosby Blvd., Old Forge.

The works of John Briant, author, are available for sale and on display until Wednesday, Dec. 31. A portion of each sale donated to library. For more info, call 369-6008.

This exhibit runs through Sunday, Dec. 7. It includes “On and Off the Wall” exhibit by Adirondack Regional Textile Group. For more info, call 369-6411, ext. 201.

4) Bend Your Brain

  • “A Window to the Future of Zoos: from Watertown to the World” Presentation: 7 p.m. tonight in the East Hall, room H-116, Jefferson Community College, 1220 Coffeen St., Watertown. Free.

Join Jefferson Community College, New York State Zoo at Thompson Park and North Country Animal Health Center for this presentation by Donald E. Moore III, scientist at Smithsonian Institute. A reception will follow the talk. For more info, call Mark Irwin at 786-2342.

Bring your children ages 3 and older for books, storytelling, finger plays, poems, songs. For more info, contact Christine at 714-2510 or ckschrauth@gmail.com.

Presented by Birdsfoot Organic Farm and Local Living Venture, this event will be a hands-on morning with Emlyn Crocker. Reservations required. For more info, email LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com or call 347-4223.

Join in as Allison Brant teaches how to make soap using goat milk. Presented by Local Living Venture and Homestead Soap. Reservations required. For more info, email LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com or call 347-4223.

This event is for children ages 6 to 11. Parents must remain. No registration required. For more info, call 785-7709, or email apickett@ncls.org or atehomica@ncls.org.

5) Think About Theater

  • Annie: The Musical“: Tonight at 7 p.m.; tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Watertown High School, 1335 Washington St., Watertown. Cost: $10; student and senior citizens, $5.

The performance is hosted by Rhonda Foote. Tickets are available at Seaway Plaza and Washington Street Tops Markets. For more info, call 785-3800.

The play is presented by Pendragon Theatre. For more info, call 518-891-1854 or email info@pendragontheatre.org.

Operas featured are “A Letter to East 11th Street,” “In a Mirror Darkly,” and “The Fox and the Pomegranate.” For tickets or more info, call 267-2422.

  • “The Matchmaker”: Tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Canton High School, 99 State Street, Canton. Cost: $8; $5, students, seniors, tickets available at the door.

Presented by Canton Thespians.

  • Thunderchild: Tomorrow from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at The Paddock Club, 1 Public Square, Watertown.

If you miss this performance, the band will also be playing Dec. 13. For more info, call 786-6633.

For an entire list of the weekend’s offerings, visit the Watertown Daily Times events calendar.

Have a great weekend!

The music man: WHS music director Russell Faunce leads dynamic, successful program

Members of Watertown High School’s Select Choir rehearse their production of “Forbidden Broadway” under the direction of Russell J. Faunce, who has been a powerful force in students’ success for more than 30 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

Members of Watertown High School’s Select Choir rehearse their production of “Forbidden Broadway” under the direction of Russell J. Faunce, who has been a powerful force in students’ success for more than 30 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

It’s almost impossible not to smile in the presence of Russell J. “Russ” Faunce, director of music at Watertown High School and a stalwart of musical and theatrical productions both in the district and in the community for the past three decades. Maybe it’s because he himself seems to be perpetually smiling. Or that, even carrying a stack of Scantrons and a red pen through the music department on a recent Friday afternoon, he seems easy going and exudes his philosophy, with an encouraging yet serious demeanor: that, simply, with hard work and dedication, success will come.

And come it has to the students in his choirs, though Mr. Faunce himself is quick to self-deprecating laugh off almost every mention of his role in it. In his 32 years of teaching at the high school, he’s never not had a student make it to the New York State School Music Association All-State Conference for choir, the most prestigious and competitive competition for a high school band, chorus or orchestra student. Selection requires a near perfect score on the highest, most grueling level of NYSSMA solo — even three points below 100 usually doesn’t make the cut.

And it’s not just one student. In 2003, he sent a record eight. Last year, he sent four. [Read more…]

Hitting all the right notes

By Chris Brock

Watertown High School senior Alex Marilley takes her music lesson with Craig Sirianni at North Country Music in Watertown. Miss Marilley has been accepted into the opera studies at the Manhattan School of Music. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

“Madame, who is the understudy for this role?”

“There is no understudy, monsieur – the production is new.”

“Christine Daae could sing it, sir.”

“The chorus girl?!”

“She’s been taking lessons from a great teacher.”— “Think of Me,” from “The Phantom of the Opera”

Alexandra T. Marilley wants to move you to tears.

[Read more…]