Lori Mahan

Lori Mahan

Thursday, 18 January 2018 17:50

All-Star Moments

[Photos provided]

Saratoga Central Catholic Bowling
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Wednesday, Jan. 10 the Spa Catholic Bowling Team took the win over Stillwater, 3,325 – 3,048. Micaela Barbolt took the highest average for the Saints with 236.6, a substantial lead over the rest of the players. Hayden Day placed second, with an average of 187. For Stillwater, Brandon Dyer had the highest average of 209.3 and Cody Julian followed behind with 172.6. On Thursday, Jan. 11 the Saints played Corinth, defeating them 2,909 to 2,367. For the Saints, Micaela Barbolt and Zac Niles took the highest average with 190 for both, followed closely behind was Jake Lenz, with 184.6. For Corinth, Sam Lucia had the highest average, 176.5, with Hunter Sims following with an average of 148. The Saints record is currently 46-6.

Saratoga Blue Streaks Boys Basketball vs. Troy’s Flying Horses Boys Basketball
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Friday, Jan. 12 the Blue Streaks defeated the Flying Horses 91-87 in overtime. AJ Lawton led the board with 24 points, Matt Larkin had 19 points, and Brian Hart had 17 points. Larkin hit the two final free-throws, bringing the Blue Streaks to victory. 

Saratoga Springs vs. Shaker/Colonie Hockey
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Wednesday, Jan. 10 at Weibel Ice Rink, the Blue Streaks played
a close game, ultimately ending in their defeat, Shaker/Colonie won 2-1. For Saratoga, their goal was made by Joe Amodio with assists from Xavier Clark and Ryan Jones. For Shaker/Colonie, Joe Malloy and Noah Savastio scored both goals, with an assist from Tyler Wilson each time. Saratoga goalie Brad Blake had 11 saves and Shaker/Colonie goalie Dan Malloy had 29 saves. Saratoga’s record is currently 2-4-2.

Saratoga Springs Alpine Ski Team
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Wednesday, Jan. 10 the Saratoga Springs ski team competed in the Niskayuna Invitational. Saratoga Springs ranked fourth, with Shannon Kelley ranking second in the entire invitational with a time of 31.86 seconds, Lucy Daly came in eleventh with a time of 33.21, and Rebecca Lynch came in twentieth overall with a time of 35.04 out of 77 skiers total for the varsity girls. For the varsity boys, Andrew Zilka ranked eighth with a time of 32.01, Atticus Connell ranked 11 with a time of 32.53, and Lucas Dougharty ranked 19 with a time of 33.28 out of 72 skiers.

Saratoga Regional YMCA Youth Basketball League
ROTARY JUNIOR DIVISION: Saratoga PBA 25 - Mexican Connection Restaurant 23
After a very tight first half and a defensive crack-down by both teams in the second half, PBA squeaked out a two point win over Mexican Connection. The winners got four points apiece from Jaden Manning and Carter Cigan, while Connor Johnson’s eight points and Ethan Dinsmore’s seven points led the Mexican Connection in the loss.
PJ BAR-B-QSA 39 - Saratoga Financial Services 36
PJ’s BBQ got their first win of the season by upsetting Saratoga Financial Services by a score of 39 to 36. Jordon Cousar led his team with 13 points along with the help of teammates Molly Trattles and Amiah Love who scored three and two points respectively. Both made defensive stops and got big rebounds down the stretch. Ryan Boyle dropped in 10 points in the defeat.
Berkshire Hathaway Blake, Realtors 39 - Cudney’s Launderers 33
In a game that was close from the opening tip off to the final buzzer, BHHS came away with a victory over Cudney’s, 39 to 36. Ian Fisk scored 16 points and Jake Graham added 11 points in the win. Hunter Regels dropped in 16 points and Will Sambrook added another eight points for Cudney’s for the loss.
Saratoga Firefighters 58 - Village Photo 49
The Firefighters got their third straight win and defeated previously unbeaten Village Photo 58 to 49. Both teams fought hard with scoring from each side. Joe Reynolds had four points and Charlie Didonato, Kaelan Kasowski, Robert Orr each scored two points to get the Firefighters victory. Elijah Woods had three points and the Kelly brothers, Thomas and Anthony, contributed two points each for Village Photo.

[Photos provided]

BALLSTON SPA — Ballston Spa School District is known for their athletics, which is why it was so disappointing to district teacher Karen Smiley when the Alpine Ski team got cut five years ago. Smiley’s son was also disappointed as he was finally the right age to join the team. Now with the team reborn and entering their second season, Smiley has nothing but praise for the group of people that helped her make this team a reality again.

“Ballston spa had a team while back, they were a very competitive team and then it kind of dissolved for a few years. We were really excited to have the support of the administrators and the athletic director to get the team up and running again,” she explained.

Smiley laments though, she could not have rebuilt the team alone.

“Mitch Huff has been phenomenal, he really deserves all of the credit.,” Smiley said.

Along with help from Huff, Christine Phelps, Mike Barnum, and Tim Shelton wanted to see this team brought back to life.

“These parents have certainly done 10 times the leg work and have been very invested in the program. Certainly, at least from my perspective, not anything I could have even begun to do myself, so they really deserve all the credit,” Smiley enthused.

Funds have come from the school, for the essentials and the basics, and then a group of active volunteer parents and coaches that have done a lot to promote the team through fundraising, establishing a booster club. There was a fundraiser in the fall that was a golf outing and brought in a “good deal” of money. A basket raffle is planned in the next few weeks.

“It’s not a cheap sport, it’s an expensive sport. That’s why we’re grateful,” she said.

In Smiley’s opinion, their first season back, which was in January 2017, was a successful one. Now with their second season just beginning, Smiley feels like, “we have our feet underneath us more and we’ve got the kinks worked out from last season. We will be more competitive athletes this year and I only see that continuing in the years to come. We have a strong contingent of up and coming athletes who have some ski racing background I think that long term we’ll be a really competitive team.”

Mitch Huff, a ski coach at Gore, who was also a ski racer in college, with a son on the Ballston Spa team, said the feedback they received last year was all positive. Smiley was also a competitive skier. Last season the team had a couple of kids at sectionals and they have high hopes for this season, as well.

“Generally, all of our athletes are really good skiers. We’re a young team so we have a strong contingent of middle school students so we’re hoping that the longevity will be there for our team,” Smiley explained.

As far as coaching goes, Huff explained that the transition between skier and coach, “is a pretty simple transition, with me being a ski racer i’m very familiar with the sport. I had some good coaches along the way that led me down the path to coaching.”

“Skiing is one of those unique sports because it involves so much more than just an athletic field behind the school. You’re going to ski mountains and there is a lot of equipment. Ski racing is not something that anyone can just walk on and learn,” Smiley said of the sport.

“The best part of coaching is sharing your experiences and knowledge with these young athletes,” Huff said.

For information on when the team has their ski matches, visit the Sports at a Glance page.

Thursday, 11 January 2018 18:13

Saratoga Winter Club: A Tradition Since 1888

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The talk of speedskating in the United States will inevitably bring up the topic of Saratoga Winter Club, which began its rich history in 1888 as the Saratoga Toboggan Club, finally became it’s current form in the 1930’s. Several Olympians have made their way through the club including: John Wurster, 1968 and 1972 US Olympic team member; Rich Wurster, 1972 Olympic team member; Pat Maxwell, 1984 National and World Team Coach and also 1988 Olympic Short Track team coach; in the 1990’s Olympic team members Moria D’Andrea, Kristen Talbot, David Tamborino, and Erin Porter skated on the ice for The Saratoga Winter Club. The winning tradition continued in the 2010 Winter Olympics with Trevor Marsicano. This day and age, aspiring skaters still take to The Saratoga Winter Club ice under the tutelage of five-time Olympic team member Amy PetersonPeck; National Skating Technical Advisor and speed skate maker Paul Marchesse; and Olympic coach Pat Maxwell. Paul Ripchik, current President of The Saratoga Winter Club for the last five years, has had his two children involved in the program for the last ten years.

“We have people coming from all over, one of the girls travels from Southern Connecticut twice a week, three hours each way,” he said in awe.

“Amy Peterson-Peck, when she came to train with Pat Maxwell back in the late 90’s, she stayed, she met a local guy. She now has a family, she has four boys, and she’s keeping it going. Amy carried the American flag into the Olympic games in Salt Lake City. So, over the course of the history of this club, we’ve had over 16 Olympians come out of Saratoga Springs, so every four years people get excited about it,” Ripchik laughed.

The club’s ice season is September through March and then after a little time off, the athletes start dry-land training.

“We try not to do year-round on the ice, especially with the younger kids. We don’t want them to burn out, so they cross-train with soccer or baseball or softball, just as long as they’re active,” he explained.

Ripchik’s two children, Ellie, 13, and Spencer, 15, started with the club at four and five years old.

“Their aunt, Erin Porter, was an Olympian so that’s sort of how I got involved, I married into it,” Ripchik said.

Jennifer Kirsch, from Long Island originally, began ice speedskating at the age of 17.

“I was an in-liner who found out that in-lining wasn’t going to become an Olympic sport, so I became a speedskater,” Kirsch explained.

Kirsch tried out for the 2002 Olympic team and placed twelfth resulting in her making some World Cup teams.

“It’s an honor to be the oldest skater at trials. That was great,” she explained.

Kirsch is only 38 years old.

“I don’t know if this is bias because he’s my coach, he’s my fiancé, he’s my business partner, and he’s my soulmate but Paul Marchese is definitely my role model. He has done it all and also started his own business and continued to skate. He’s the only person I know that actually loves the sport so much that he’s in it 24/7. He’s passionate about it, he’ll help anyone out. He’s a great coach, a great mentor, but I feel like he can just put everything on a small plate and he’ll be super happy with life,” Kirsch spoke of her coach.

Rebecca Simmons, a 28-year-old speedskater from Rochester originally and now living with her parents in Averill Park, began skating when she was nine. Simmons speed skated in her youth from age nine to thirteen, after that she continued with hockey until the end of college. During graduate school, she picked up her speedskating career again. Simmons also just competed in the Olympic trials.

“Speedskating was supposed to be my retirement and just a fun sport and then I moved home, and Saratoga has had so many people that are just really good and then before you know it, you’re sucked into training and you can’t stop, and now I’m here,” she laughed.

Aside from speedskating, Simmons works in the health field as a pediatrics floor tech in Albany Med and as a delivery room tech in St. Peter’s Hospital. She has a Masters in physiology. Simmons trains for “at least six hours a day. Most weeks it’s seven days a week, so it’s a lot every day.”

Paul Marchese has had a long and fulfilling skating career so far and he’s still going, in any way that he can. Between skating, refereeing, coaching (domestically and internationally), and owning a business that creates skates, he seems to live for the sport. Marchese is from the Catskill area and travels to Saratoga several times a week for The Saratoga Winter Club.

“I started late as a skater. Most of the guys that I had been racing against put on skates for the first time when they were like eight years old. I didn’t start speedskating until I was about 15, so when I was done with that, I felt like I still had things to offer. So that threw me into coaching,” he explained.

“As you grow and gain more experience and you start to hit some crossroads when you are high school age, it’s at that point where some further commitment is needed from them and then you have to manage the skaters more carefully from there to make sure that they don’t do too much but to make sure that they do enough to be competitive, because otherwise they lose interest; they’re not competitive anymore. So, it’s hard to strike that balance when they’re teenagers,” Marchese said of coaching.

When asked what it was like to coach his fiancé, his face began to beam, “she’s fantastic,” he said enthusiastically of Kirsch.

The Saratoga Winter Club will be hosting the US Speedskating Age Group Nationals and America Cup Final the weekend of March 23-25 at the Weibel Ice Rink. This is the second largest speed skating meet held in the US every year and there will be over 200 participants from around the country skating at this event.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Imagine this: You’re a parent who doesn’t know where your child is. They haven’t gotten off the school bus and you are straining to remember; did they stay after for an extracurricular? Did they miss the bus or just hop onto the wrong one? The Saratoga Springs City School District (SSCSD) has decided to eliminate those questions with a new system called Tyler Drive. Tyler Drive, a system created by Tyler Technologies, is a software that manages student location information. Through a tablet mounted near the school bus driver, this system provides the driver with step-by-step directions to each stop on their route, effectively managing student ridership and eliminating the middleman of handheld directions or anything that will not allow the bus drivers to pay full attention to the road and the riders on board.

“Every student in the school district is going to have an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) card. Basically, what’s going to be on there is just their picture and their name. It will have a bar code and there will be a number on it that basically will just associate with our system. When they get on a bus or off a bus, they just tap on or tap off,” explained Cheryl Dalton, transportation director of SSCSD for the last 12 years.

Once the student has tapped their RFID card, the software connects to the driver’s tablet and the bus stop information is pulled up.

“Basically, it’s almost like they’re being checked in, kind of like how you do attendance in a classroom. It’s the same thing when they’re getting off the bus. What’s really neat about it is it literally shows where the student got on the bus, what bus stop, and when they’re getting off in the afternoon and what stop they get off,” Dalton said.

The RFID cards will be attached to each students’ backpacks but if lost, the driver will be able to manually input the students’ information into their tablet.

“I was always intrigued [by Tyler Drive] and probably initially overwhelmed with the idea of it because technology is growing so much,” she said.

The district has all their bus routing through Tyler Technologies, plus GPS through the dispatchers that allows them to see where the busses are on the roads.

“Tyler Industries actually came to us and offered us this pilot. They basically have invested in the school district because obviously this is a product they have invested in and they want it to work. They’ve paid for all of the hardware, the tablets, and are supplying all of the training for our drivers and employees,” she said.

Employees from Tyler Industries start riding with the bus drivers and training them next week. Nothing is out of pocket for the SSCSD in year one.

“We had to make a three-year commitment on our end,” she said.

A transportation committee was created out of parents, principals, transportation employees, and some board members, which met over the summer with Tyler Industries.

“It was great, parents came out with a lot of questions, as did principals,” Dalton recounted.

The transportation committee presented the plan to the school board in September and it was approved to move forward. Regarding why Tyler Industries chose SSCSD, Dalton thinks this is because of “the diversity of our district and also the proximity."

Tyler Technologies is in Latham, New York so they can do a lot of things going back and forth. They also have employees who are residents of the school district, so that was important to them,” she said.

After Dalton sent out the initial email detailing this new program on Monday, Jan. 8, she did receive a few feedback responses.

“Some of the concerns are that we’re putting a chip into somebody and that we’re tracking somebody and that’s not that case at all. This is just an RFID card with a bar code scanner on it. If somebody picked it up off the street, it says ‘return to’ with the transportation departments address on it. There is nothing saying where the child lives or any identifying information, it doesn’t even have the school that they go to. None of that information is on there, we clearly stated that,” she explained.

Some parents questioned whether their child will have to participate in the program.

“We’re basically saying, ‘everybody is going to do this.’ This will be a requirement for the district. We think this is going to bring a lot of value to the parents and drivers,” Dalton said enthusiastically.

The parents will have plenty of resources when it comes to Tyler Drive. There is already an online information portal called E-Link, in which the parents can log on and see the bus schedules and coming in the fall is a program called MyStop where parents can have the app on their phone and check when the bus will arrive at the stop.

“They can also see that their child got on the bus; that’s a lot of peace of mind,” she relayed.

Dalton is open to someone from Tyler Industries coming in and giving a show and tell to the parents once the program has been successfully implemented.

The program is scheduled for implementation as follows: late January 2018, Maple Avenue Middle School and Dorothy Nolan Elementary School; late February through early March 2018, Caroline Street Elementary School, Geyser Road Elementary School, and Greenfield Elementary School; April 2018, Division Street Elementary School, Lake Avenue Elementary School, and Saratoga Springs High School.

[Photo provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11, the Amnesty International Club at Saratoga Springs High School presents their second annual Voices for Unity panel in the Saratoga Springs High School auditorium. This event is free to attend but donations are welcome. The panel will include speakers discussing their journey as a refugee from the Congo and the rise in white supremacism. 

There will also be a bake sale, Q&A session after each panelist, photo booth, art gallery, and a guest performance.

Thursday, 04 January 2018 18:46

All-Star Moments

Saratoga Central Catholic Bowling [Saints v. Hoosic Valley]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, the Saints played Hoosic Valley. For Varsity, Hoosic Valley took the win with 3360-3179. Tim Barrett had the highest average for the Saints with 212, followed closely by Hayden Day with an average of 189. For Hoosic Valley, Leigha Henkel had the highest average with 221, followed closely by Blake Weibert who had an average of 219. For JV, the Saints took the win with 2371-2357. Jack Naughton had the highest average for the Saints with 158, followed by Tom Frankowski with 142. For Hoosic Valley, Jen Acker had the highest average of 169 and Zack Milette had the second highest average with 150.

Saratoga Central Catholic Bowling [Saints v. Granville]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Saints played Granville and won, 3565-2644. Tim Barrett had the highest average for the Saints with 233, followed by LJ LaFiura with an average of 216. For Granville, Mikey Martin had the
highest average of 186 with DJ Ludwikowski with 179. The Saints currently have a record of 38-6.

Saratoga Central Catholic Boys Basketball
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Over the Christmas break, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, the Spa Catholic Boys Basketball team improved to 3-0 league, 7-1 overall, by winning the 42nd Annual Saratoga Central Catholic Holiday Tournament. In the opening round, the Saints faced off against Bishop Maginn, posting a 75-62 win. Tyler Haraden led the Saints with 31 points, followed by Ryan McFadden with 13 points, and Sean Englert with 11 points. Dominique Threatt led Bishop Maginn with 22 points. The second night, the Saints faced Cambridge in the championship game. This was a hard-fought game with multiple lead changes and the Saints would ultimately pull it out for the win 57-49. Tyler Haraden again led the Saints with 19 points and was named the Tournament MVP. Terel Tillman had a strong game for the Saints on the boards and defensively, while clipping in 12 points. Tillman was also name to the All-Star Tournament Team. Cambridge was led by Tristan Williams with 20 points.

Thursday, 04 January 2018 18:42

The Little Gym Opening in Malta

[Photos provided]

MALTA — The Little Gym, opening at Ellsworth Commons on Sunday, Jan. 7, is a part of a franchise that provides kids with classes of all athletic varieties, giving children “unique programs that revolve around active play,” according to the official statement.

With over 350 Little Gyms in the world, Kathryn Pellett and her husband Jim decided to open one more, right here in Saratoga County after receiving an email from Little Gym International. Pellett was involved with The Little Gym long before she opened her own, though. As the mother of four boys, all between the ages of one and eleven, her second-born son Chase showed signs of being on the spectrum around three years old. With that information, Pellett decided to enroll Chase in The Little Gym in Colonie three years ago.

“He was given an introduction month at the gym and he loved the program, we loved the program, and it was a really good fit for our family. Chase was mostly non-verbal when he started at the gym and as a mom it was nerve-wracking to send him into that situation. They never acted like he was different from any other kid going there. He really flourished in that environment,” Pellett explained.

With an undergrad degree in finance and an MBA, Pellett was a good fit to open this business.

“The email came at a good time. Chase was settling down and it would be nice for me to have a career of my own at this point and with my families’ history at the gym and my background in business, it seemed to be a really great fit. It was an ‘a-ha!’ moment to open the gym,” she explained.

After she and her husband talked to their family, who were all on board, and wrote a business plan, they got their funding in place and went from there. After a 16-month process, The Little Gym has their open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7 with classes beginning on Monday, Jan. 8. The gym will be open 9 a.m.  to 7 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with weekend afternoons reserved for pre-scheduled birthday parties.

“The birthday party calendar is filled right up. People in this area are always looking for party ideas for their kids,” Pellett explained.

The gym’s curriculum is approved by the United States Gymnastics Association (USGA); because of the non-competitive nature of the gym, the kids are still learning the sport in a nice and safe environment. The Little Gym follows a 3-dimensional learning method: moving is the first dimension and is based on the class itself, the second dimension is brain boost, which focuses on cognition of the child, and the third dimension is citizen kids, which is fostering great relationships and teaching them how to be “great little humans,” she explained.

These three dimensions are present in every class at every age group. Every class is non-competitive. Opening The Little Gym also required the Pellett’s to attend a lot of training.

“Over the summer we went to Arizona for two weeks, where The Little Gym International is based. I also interned for a week at The Little Gym in San Jose. There is a lot of training that goes into a franchise,” Pellett said.

Class instructors were chosen after extensive background checks, they also needed to participate in intense online training.

“We focused more on finding someone who works well with kids rather than a gymnast,” she said.

All instructors also need to be CPR certified.

“I’m excited about it, there aren’t a lot of businesses you can open, and your family can participate with you. Chase is very excited about it. They’re all excited. We’ve done a good job of explaining to them that this is our family’s gym now. We want them to be proud of the gym,” Pellett said enthusiastically.

The Little Gym follows the school season, which ends in June, and then a shorter summer session, and then the full season starts in September. There will also be summer camp programs and camps during break weeks (such as spring break) offered.

“We’ve really found that a lot of parents are really happy to see it coming to this area. A lot of positive feedback with a lot of people excited that it’s going to be in Malta. It’s a child-friendly business for this community. We’re really excited this is opening and excited to bring it to this area. We want everyone to benefit from The Little Gym,” Pellett stated.

Thursday, 04 January 2018 17:46

Katy Ralston: Local Speedskating Athlete

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Katy Ralston, a Saratoga Springs native, has been training in speedskating since she was eight years old and has been training full time since she was 16. Now, at 25-years-old, Ralston has decided to retire. Ralston just participated in her last Olympic Trials, which took place Dec. 15 – 17. The top three women and the top five men made the Olympic team, Ralston finished eighth overall.

“It was pretty much where I was expecting to finish. It would have been great if I had been able to do better or even make the team, but realistically I knew that was where I was sitting. In some races I did better than I expected. It was an okay way to finish out my career,” Ralston stated.

Before Ralston ever started speedskating, she was a soccer player. She will be going to school full time at Salt Lake Community College, where she is considering getting a degree in physical therapy, and will be playing soccer.

“Soccer was my first love for sports. Now that I’m done skating, I’d like to train for soccer and see where that can take me,” she explained.

In 2010, after graduation from high school, Ralston moved to Utah to train full time.

“Doing this for eight years is mentally and physically exhausting. I’m 25 so I’m kind of at the back end of my career, I don’t think I can make it another four years. Its time, I don’t have anything I regret much with skating. It was time to hang up the skates and move on,” Ralston said.

Ralston got her skating start at the Saratoga Winter Club after skating at her families’ frozen farm house pond with her dad.

“My dad had really old speed skates and he was doing cross-overs. I thought it was really cool and he tried to teach me,” she reminisced.

After that, her parents decided she needed to take skating lessons.

“It was kind of a fun activity that young kids do and as I got older, it was more fun and I started getting faster. Back then, the club had a lot of Olympians, World Cup team members, and some National Team members there. That put me in a cool position to train on the same ice as them. They helped me out a lot in wanting to pursue skating further as I got older,” she said. “My family has been really supportive. They’ve been great in helping me afford the equipment and all of the other expenses,” Ralston mused.

Ralston’s main coach in Saratoga was Paul Marchese.

“He’s still with the club but  when I was 16 and really decided I wanted to get really good at this and try to go to the Olympics, Marchese really helped me out with getting to the next level. Most recently, my coach is Lin Lin Phun in Utah. She was a gold medalist from China and her medal is from the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. For the past two years I’ve been skating with her,” Ralston explained.

With her full time athletic lifestyle, Ralston has traveled many places and created a family like bond with her teammates, and that is what she’ll “miss the most.”

“The coolest place I’ve traveled to is Seoul, Korea. The people there that come to watch the World Cup there are crazy, they’re so passionate about short track in Korea. The rink fills up with people and it’s a really cool environment to be in as an athlete,” Ralston remembered.

Ralston has seen many accomplishments in the nearly eight years she has invested full time into speed skating.

From 2010-2011, she was a member of the US Junior World Team; from 2010-2012 and 20142018, Ralston was on the US Short Track National Team; in 2011 she placed eighteenth overall in the Junior World Championships; and in 2014 and 2018, she placed eighth overall at the Olympic Trials.

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Meg Messitt, an ambitious freshman at Saratoga Springs High School, decided last summer that her political point of view needed to be represented in her high school. Along with two friends her age, Jason Schwartz and Paul Sheehan, Messitt and the boys spent their summer writing their new proposed clubs constitution. Messitt explained that she has always been interested in politics, starting with watching Fox News at a young age and continuing to do so well into her teen years.

“I was really excited to start this club, it got me even more engaged with politics. We wanted to express conservative values more, we thought there wasn’t a big voice of conservative ideas in Saratoga schools. We noticed that lessons tended to be from the democratic view point. So, we started this club, so the conservative values could be heard,” Messitt explained.

The clubs’ first meeting took place in November, appointing Messitt as president, Schwartz as treasurer, and Sheehan as vice president. So far, the club has attracted 30 members.

“We were surprised to see how many kids came and we’re expecting the numbers to grow, so we’re really excited to see how the club turns out,” Messitt said.

Along with the club serving as a place for young republicans to gather, it was also created to serve as a community service based club. The club participated in Adopt-A-Soldier in December, they sent out a package to a soldier on the Red Sea.

“The members of our club donated stuff and then we sent out the care package to the soldier,” she explained.

Items included nonperishable foods, Christmas decorations, magazines, and items the soldiers wouldn’t normally have on a ship. The club also intends to lay wreaths at the Saratoga National Cemetery, are planning a food drive, and are looking to meet up with local law enforcement.

“We are going to have a meet and greet with law enforcement to honor them, get to know them better, and see what they do,” Messitt stated.

Messitt has been in contact with a local police officer already. The club also has Senator James Tedisco lined up to speak to them on Thursday, Jan. 18.

“I feel that the current political climate is full of anger and hate. There is a lot of intolerance for people with different political beliefs. Political diversity is often unwelcomed, and we should respect people with different political beliefs,” she said.

On what it means to be a Republican, Messitt said, “we believe that there are equal rights for everyone.”

“People look at each other and if they hold a different political belief then they don’t like that person and judge them because of their differences. So maybe instead of thinking that way, we should listen to them and hear their side and even though you don’t agree with them, you can still be friends with them. I feel there should be more acceptance for political diversity,” she explained passionately.

Matthew Taylor, a senior and former intern on the newlyappointed Mayor Meg Kelly’s campaign, is ready to change the political climate at Saratoga Springs High School.

“One morning the Republican Club announced they were having a meeting and, so I decided to create a Young Democrats Club, because there should be a club for democrats as well,” Taylor explained.

The Young Democrats will hold their first meeting in January and have already garnered a lot of interest within the school. Sara Zlotnick has been appointed the clubs vice president.

“Action is needed, so that’s what we’re looking to do, raise money for not for profits in our area and make a difference in our community. This is the first charter of the Young Democrats in Saratoga County,” Taylor said.

Taylor has been very politically engaged throughout his life and began dipping his toes into the career end of things this past summer by interning on the Meg Kelly mayoral campaign.

“We obviously won, so that was great. I attended the meetings we had, made a lot of phone calls, a lot of knocking on doors, which is how you win elections. Also, a lot of communicating and keeping the spirits high,” he said.

Interning helped him to learn the amount of work that goes into a campaign, how even simple things like knocking on doors is critical to success.

Taylor considers Kelly’s campaign to be a success because “we were passionate about the issues and we ran on that and worked hard.”

Taylor intends to go to college for political science, he will be attending George Washington University in the fall of 2018. The 2016 election season, and the subsequent outcome, was what sparked Taylor’s initiative to become more involved and aware of the political climate around him.

In reference to the current political world we live in, Taylor finds it “saddening. It’s so contentious and there is so much divide and such a lack of communication. That’s why I want my club to be a very inclusive environment. We may be the Young Democrats Club, but you don’t have to be a staunch democrat to be part of the club.

Our main goal is to make a difference in our community,” he said passionately.

Taylor intends to open any public figure discussions that happen within his group the Republican Club as well.

“I think that we’ve come so far from listening to one another that we instantly hear republican, or democrat, or conservative, or liberal and we instantly are turned off. I’ve caught myself doing that as well and I think that needs to end, because everyone has different views,” Taylor stated.

When asked what being a Democrat meant to him, he simply stated, “to be a Democrat, I say you believe in social equality, you believe in helping those less fortunate than you.”

Both clubs have expressed an interest in working together to show others that it is not always about your political affiliation but how you treat people for being people.

Thursday, 21 December 2017 18:47

Saratoga-Wilton Elks Hoop Shoot

[Photo provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Saturday, Dec. 2 the SaratogaWilton Elks Lodge No. 161 held its’ annual basketball Hoop Shoot free throw shooting competition. Throughout the hours of 9 a.m.  and noon, six youths came out to shoot free throws.

On Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Elks Lodge, an awards ceremony was held for all the winners from the Hoop Shoot competition.

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