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Update from Clarence CSD April 21, 2023

Dear Clarence School Family,  

While visiting one of our elementary classrooms a few days ago, I noticed a sign hanging on the wall that read: “I’m bilingual—what’s your superpower?” Indeed, it’s difficult to overstate the value that comes with learning a second language. Whether the benefits involve boosting brain power, opening doors to other cultures, or improving competitiveness in the job market, students who can speak more than one language have a decided advantage over their peers who are monolingual.

The good news? More than ever, Clarence students are focused on acquiring a second language. At a basic level, almost all secondary learners take either French, Latin, or Spanish in order to fulfill a New York State diploma requirement. More impressive, however, involves the number of students who go above and beyond what is required in order to obtain the Seal of Biliteracy. (For those who might not know, the Seal of Biliteracy is a designation that recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages, in addition to English.)

While it’s a big deal for most districts to have one or two seniors graduate each June having earned the Seal of Biliteracy, last year Clarence had 64. The accomplishment would not have been possible without the expertise of our Foreign Language Department, and I am proud to share that a couple weeks ago, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) sent an associate to learn from what our teachers are doing.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t give a quick shout out to the 16 Clarence students (6 in Middle School and 10 in High School) who won medals on this year’s National Latin Exam. The exam assesses knowledge of the Latin language as well as Roman culture, and in 2023, the test was given to over 100,000 individuals in all 50 states as well as 13 different countries. Our 16 Red Devil students had some of the highest scores among their peers, and we couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments.

Clarence Receives National Music Recognition

We are excited to share that Clarence has once again received the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation by the NAMM Foundation. The award recognizes districts that demonstrate a commitment to making music accessible to all students, and it highlights the benefits that come from participating in chorus, orchestra, and band. We are fortunate to have a world-class Music Department here in Clarence, and we thank our faculty members for all the ways they enrich the learning experiences of our students.

“Miss a Meeting, Miss a Lot”

Our Clarence Rotary Club President, Kevin Petho, often ends his emails to members with the line: “Miss a meeting, miss a lot.” I appreciate the sentiment and am convinced the same principle applies to what goes on in our classrooms each day. To keep you “in the know,” I thought I’d pass along a handful of highlights from the past week.

  • Mr. Ratka recently took 9 High School students to Washington, D.C. for the 25th Annual Washington Area Model United Nations Conference. Joining 400 other students to talk about issues like global energy, treatment of refugees, and mental health, the group also had the chance to visit the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the US Holocaust Museum, and the Lincoln Memorial

  • A team of student artists from the Middle School finished second in the Erie County Rain Barrel contest! Their design was inspired by artist Romero Britto, and linked to the school's support of the Ugandan Water Project

  • The Harris Hill faculty and staff spent time working on their own health and wellness by learning how to make dosa, practicing yoga, and competing in a friendly (I think) game of dodgeball

  • To help kids develop skills used in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Clarence Center Cheetahs built a worm habitat and Ledgeview Lions spent time coding

  • Emphasizing the importance of play, students at Sheridan Hill took a break from schoolwork and spent time with friends outside for recess

  • WGRZ – Channel 2, WIVB – Channel 4, and WKBW – Channel 7 each stopped by to cover the official reopening of our Family Support Center (FSC). (If you have time, check out the links to learn more about the different ways the FSC is supporting mental health needs in our school community)

Finally, as our Muslim students, staff, and community members near the end of Ramadan, this Thursday evening marks a special time for celebrating the conclusion of the fasting period, Eid al-Fitr. If this is part of your faith tradition, please know our school community is wishing you peace, safety, and good health.

Have a great weekend, Red Devils.

Matt Frahm 
Superintendent of Schools 

PS: I almost forgot—congrats to Sophia Lus (Cosmetology I) and Thomas "T.J." Russell (Auto Technician Training II) on being named “Students of the Month” in their programs at the Harkness Career and Technical Center!