Thomas M. Ramming


Grand Island School Superintendent


We Have Much to be Thankful For 

Readers of previous articles have probably noticed that I usually discuss our direction, plans, and goals for the future.  The theme is typically – “This is where we are, and this is where we’re headed.”  This article, however, will represent a departure from that theme. 

During this holiday season, it is important to reflect on what we, as a school community, have accomplished and give thanks to those who have supported us in our efforts.   

Academically, we are continuing to move ahead.  More high school students are taking a full schedule of courses and enrollment in Advanced Placement courses continues to grow.  The Board of Education, acting on the recommendation of teachers and administrators, voted to “raise the bar” by requiring almost all students, beginning with the Class of 2007, to score “65” or higher on five Regents Exams in order to receive a high school diploma.  Our middle school continues to be one of the highest ranked middle schools in Erie County, with student achievement improving in each of the last three years.  Elementary students are learning more and performing better on the State assessments in Math and English/Language Arts at 4th grade. 

Technologically, students across the District are using our new, high-speed Internet connections to conduct research on-line.  This is now possible because of the commitment the voters made to our students in passing the 2004-05 District budget.  Over 75% of the cost of connecting our schools with fiber optic cable is reimbursed through federal and state aid.  In addition, computer access is now provided to students in libraries, computer labs and many classrooms.   

The emphasis on character and respect has resulted in a school-community collaboration, the Community Enrichment Council, to help support Grand Island’s youth and their families.  At Connor Middle School, the Viking Values – Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe – have created a more positive learning environment and reduced disciplinary incidents by 50 percent.   

Our music and art programs continue to thrive.  In early October, our High School String Orchestra put on a fantastic performance that was enjoyed by over 100 seniors at the Golden Age Center.  Later in the month, at the New York State School Boards Convention held in Buffalo, our senior high chorus performed in front of an audience of over 1000 convention goers and artwork from students at Sidway was on display at the Convention Center.  This spring, our High School Wind Ensemble will perform at the Music Educators’ National Conference – Eastern Division Convention – a very prestigious, by invitation only, opportunity. 

Once again this fall, our student athletes performed admirably. The boys’ volleyball and soccer teams advanced far into the Section 6 playoffs while our girls’ soccer team once again won the Section 6 Class A title.  The Grand Island football team, after a bit of a slow start, finished strong with wins over Sweet Home and Lakeshore.  While winning is important, even more important is the opportunity provided to all students who participate in interscholastic sports to build character, learn teamwork, and develop leadership.   

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without –

·        Great “kids” from strong families;

·        A supportive community that values its youth and helps to provide them with the resources and guidance they need to achieve success; and,

·        Teachers, administrators, and support staff who are working “harder and smarter” everyday to meet the needs of all students. 

During these next few weeks, please take some time to be thankful for what we have and, working together, what we have accomplished.  

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our students and may you enjoy a wonderful holiday season!