Soon 2016 will come to an end. The passing of a year is often a time to reflect on the past and think about and make plans for the future. Reflecting on this past year I realized that next month marks ten years since the Olmsted School community was given approval from then Superintendent Dr. James Williams and the school board to move forward with plans to develop an Olmsted High School. The Buffalo News, in an editorial published on January 8, 2007, lauded the decision. Click here to read the editorial.
The years since January 2007 have gone by quickly and much has been accomplished by our school community. We moved to our new site in September 2007 with our first high school class entering the following year. Adding a grade level each year the school became a fully operational middle and high school in September 2011. With the additional grades came growth in both student enrollment and in the teaching and ancillary staff. In September 2007 Olmsted grades 5-8 had 271 students and a staff of 25 teachers and 4 teacher aides and assistants. The school now has an administrative and teaching staff of 84 along with 28 teacher aides and assistants serving 815 students. Additions were made to our special education program with the expansion of autistic and alternate assessment classes. In September 2007 we had four special education classes and two resource teachers. Today we have 14 special education classes and four resource teachers.
Our first high school graduation was held in our newly renovated auditorium on June 21, 2012. Since then 290 students have graduated from Olmsted. Our graduation rate is over 92% and I am proud to say all seniors, in each year, were accepted into college. Graduates have earned more than $15,000,000 in scholarship monies in addition to Say Yes funds.
Renovations, of over $33,000,000 to the building between 2010 and 2012, gave the school updated facilities to support its program.
There are many points of pride at Olmsted with one being our diverse student body. The school’s demographics are as follows: Black 41%, White 33%, Hispanic 14%, Asian 8%, MultiRacial 4% and Native American 1%. Although the majority of our students were born in the Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www.novapdf.com) United States we have a number of students who were born elsewhere. These students come from 25 countries on six continents. These countries include: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Central African Republic, China, Columbia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Myanmar, Northern Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Pakistan, Romania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Thailand. In addition, we have welcomed exchange students from Belgium, Denmark and Spain. Students residing in all city zip codes are represented in the student body.
The foundation of the school’s program is its long-standing gifted and talented component which was expanded as the school grew to a high school. Working with the University at Buffalo a Methods of Inquiry class was developed to foster critical and innovative thinking. A Green Technology Program was designed in conjunction with Alfred State. We started with one Advanced Placement course and now offer six AP courses with more planned. Graduating seniors are eligible to receive the Seal of Biliteracy if they have completed four years of a foreign language and fulfill all requirements for this distinction. The Arts are represented with a variety of courses. Students also have the opportunity to participate in Band and Orchestra.
Students have shown their talents by participating in projects connected with Architecture in Education, Arts in Education, the Just Buffalo Literary Center, the Anne Frank Project at Buffalo State, The Genome Project at the University at Buffalo, and the Physics Olympics. Students also presented their Inquiry Research Projects at Buffalo State’s Youth Voices Speaker series. Two students presented their research to a Ph.D. class at UB.
Students have visited points of interest both in and out of the United States. The Traveling Owls went to Boston, Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Other groups of students traveled outside of the continental United States to places such as Canada, China, Costa Rica, and Italy. Students also traveled to Puerto Rico and in February are going to Belize.
Clubs have also grown. Students now participate in the following clubs – Chess, Creative Writing, Drama, Fitness, Multicultural, and Science. In addition, there are Masterminds, the OWL Squad, Student Council, UNYTS, and Yearbook.
A National Honor Society and a Junior National Honor Society recognize students who demonstrate Scholarship, Leadership, Service, Character and Citizenship.
Many teachers have been perfected their practice by attending a variety of workshops and professional development. These include AP training at Northwestern University; participation in the Honeywell Educator Space Program held at NASA, the George C. Marshall International Center Immersion Workshop in Leesburg Virginia, the Genome Project at the University at Buffalo, Differentiated Science training at UB, the Goethe Institut Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOP) in Germany and at the University of Connecticut’s Confratute.
Our athletic program has grown greatly. We started with just modified sports and now have expanded to include: Baseball (Varsity), Baseball (7/8, 5/6 Intramurals),Basketball (Varsity, Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www.novapdf.com) Junior Varsity, Modified – Boys), Basketball (Varsity, Junior Varsity, Modified – Girls), Bowling (Varsity), Cheerleading, Cross Country (Varsity, Modified – Boys), Cross Country (Varsity, Modified – Girls), Football (Varsity, Junior Varsity at Bennett), Golf (Varsity – Boys and Girls), Lacrosse – (District sponsored), Soccer (Varsity – Boys), Soccer (Varsity – Girls), Soccer (Intramural – Coed), Softball, Swim (Varsity – Boys), Swim (Varsity – Girls, Swim (Mod – Boys), Swim (Mod – Girls), Tennis (Varsity – Boys), Tennis (Varsity – Girls), Track (Varsity – Boys), Track (Varsity – Girls) Track (Modified – Boys), Track (Modified – Girls) and Volleyball (Varsity, Junior Varsity – Girls).
In addition our athletic program has seen a number of firsts:
* Men’s Basketball, 2015/16, Section 6 Class C1 Champions
* Men’s Basketball, 2015 BPS Yale Cup Champions * Women’s Track, 2016 State Qualifier – Hurdles
* Women’s Track 2016 State Qualifier – 200 and 400 meter
* Women’s Track 2014, 15 and 16 BPS Scalp and Blade
* Women’s Cross Country 2014 and 2015 State Qualifier
* Women’s Cross Country, 2011, 12, 13 and 14 State Qualifier
* Women’s Cross Country 2015 BPS Columbia Cup Champions
*Women’s Golf 2015 and 2016 BPS Individual Champion
* Women’s Volleyball, 2016 BPS Champions and Section 6 Class C Semifinalist
* Women’s Basketball, 2012 and 2015 BPS Syracuse Cup Champions
* Women’s Basketball, 2011, 12, 13, and 14 Sectional Finalist
* Baseball, 2014, 15 and 16 Sectional Quarter-finalist
* Men’s and Women’s Tennis, 2016 BPS Champions
Students have also given back to their community by giving of their time and resources to help the Food Pantry of Western NY, St Luke’s Mission of Mercy, Hospice of WNY, the Buffalo City Mission, Gerard Place, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, UNYTS, the American Red Cross, and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute to name only some. In addition, music students have performed for the NFTA, at the Broadway Market, at Kleinhan’s Music Hall, and in Collage at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
Parents have been an integral part in developing and supporting the Olmsted school program. Through the School-Based Management Team, the Olmsted Foundation, the Olmsted Booster Club and the Olmsted Parent-Teacher Organization parents participate in helping move forward the school program. Through their efforts funds are raised to support exploratory activities and various clubs and sports. Many endeavors are run solely by parents, modified soccer, being one. The Olmsted Foundation funds teacher professional development, such as the gifted and talented training (Confratute) held at the University of Connecticut and participation at the National Conference on Gifted Education.
Say Yes is now an integral part of our program assisting not only in college funding, but also in providing services to families in need. A Gateway-Longview Clinic operates out of the school two days a week.
As I began writing this letter, which I didn’t think it would get this long, I realized I would be remiss if I didn’t note some of our accomplishments. Ten years is a milestone. I am truly grateful to all individuals present and past– my fellow administrators, teachers, teacher assistants and aides, students, parents, and community members – who played a part in making the Olmsted High School a reality. Without your support it might not have happened. Your time and talent is so greatly appreciated and your efforts have made a lasting contribution in educating the young people of the City of Buffalo. Paraphrasing a quote by Margaret Mead seems appropriate, “Never doubt that a … group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Over the past ten years, in spite the distractions of everyday life, I believe we have remained faithful to the vision we set for ourselves to prepare students academically and socially to take their place as productive and innovative citizens of the 21st century and to our mission to provide our students with an educational experience that merges academic rigor and relevance with creativity and social responsibility within a safe, caring environment.
We continue to work on our goals of developing students who are intellectually competent, are creative and innovative, who show a concern for others and who are reflective.
We are still a work in progress and the best is yet to come as we work to continually update and strengthen our school program by providing additional AP courses, increasing the use of technology, strengthening the Arts program and improving the land behind the school for our sports and wellness program. Additional renovations will be coming in the next few years. These include air conditioning the building, installing a new roof, a new elevator, a new gym floor and changes to the layout of the library.
Hopefully, we will get the school building designated on the National Registry of Historic Places.
As I end this letter, I wish you all the best for a happy holiday season in accord with the traditions you celebrate – a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa. My continued best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2017.
As always, if you have any question please feel free to call me at 816.4330.
Michael Gruber Ed.D.
Just a reminder Winter Recess begins with the close of classes on December 23rd. School resumes on Tuesday January 3, 2017.