CTE students star in STEM ads

Questar III student films ad

Questar III student Chris Zwoboda films an ad at Albany Medical College’s simulation lab. The commercial will start airing in early September.

Two Questar III career and technical education (CTE) students recently starred in commercials promoting the region’s largest back to school expo.

Aviation Maintenance Technology student Brigit Swanson (Lansingburgh) and HVAC student Chris Zwoboda (Cairo-Durham) were paired with professionals from Albany Medical Center and Regeneron to promote the Back to School Expo in Albany.

The expo will be held at the Empire State Plaza on Saturday, September 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is designed to provide hands-on activities to introduce children to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in a non-traditional, non-intimidating setting.

The event also features entertainment, exhibitions, giveaways and a celebrity appearance by Peyton List (Emma from Disney’s hit show, Jessie).

Questar III is participating in the Back to School Expo for the fourth consecutive year.

Please visit www.backtoschoolexpo.com for more information, including how to purchase tickets.


Mertz advocates for CTE

mertz_assembly_hearing_CTEOn Wednesday, July 16, Questar III Career and Technical Education (CTE) Recruiter Pam Mertz  provided testimony regarding the importance of CTE programs to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Education on Graduation Pathways related to Career and Technical Education.

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) called for the hearing in order to garner public comment on the importance of such programs and to position it as a valued pathway to graduation and careers for high school students. NYSUT advocates that a CTE assessment should be allowed in place of one of the five required Regents tracks in order for NYS students to successfully earn a high school diploma.

Mertz participated in a CTE task force, convening in November 2013, and helped develop recommendations to the State Education Department regarding CTE as a viable pathway to high school graduation.

Mertz works with high school sophomores interested in enrolling in CTE courses for their final two years of high school. She spoke about the feeling of excitement these students get when they learn about hands-on, project-based options available in their high school. She also discussed her role in educating parents about CTE pathways.

“This was a great opportunity for me to present at a public hearing and learn first-hand about the importance of advocating for CTE to New York State Assembly staff that has the influence to introduce bills to make CTE a viable graduation pathway,” said Mertz. “Both assembly members were genuinely interested in what I had to say and were particularly pleased to hear what I shared via student feedback.”

Also in attendance was New York State Education Commissioner John King, as well as New York State Board of Regents Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar. Also delivering testimony were several BOCES district superintendents, teachers, local business and industry stakeholders, representatives from several local community colleges, several youth organizations and union and apprentice representatives.


Tech Valley summer camp

Students participating in the Tech Valley Summer Camp spent the day at Questar III’s Rensselaer Educational Center (REC) learning about renewable green technologies, and aviation, in preparation for their last day of camp where they spent the day on the third floor Observation deck at Albany International Airport, followed by the camp closing ceremony.

07 013The week long camp was for students entering 9th grade in the fall. During the week students visited the region’s top professionals in nanotechnology, biotechnology, advanced materials, alternative energy, aviation, information technology and robotics. Some of the different Tech Valley businesses that students visited and engaged in exciting, and fun hands-on activities were, Hudson Valley Community College, New York State Museum, Regeneron and Taconic.

Successful troubleshooting

kortum2Sergeant E.F. Stephen Kortum is stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with his wife and six-month-old baby girl.  Kortum’s job is to help handle transportation logistics for the United States Marine Corps. At 24 years old, he has already traveled the world.

Kortum, a 2009 graduate of Troy High school, said he owes much of his success to his time at Questar III BOCES. Kortum completed the Academy of Information Technology (AIT) at Questar III’s Rensselaer Educational Center in Troy. He was also enrolled in Questar III’s Challenge Program at Tamarac Secondary School.

kortumIn the AIT program, students work towards a Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) Certification. They learn about computer systems and how to install, configure and troubleshoot computer networks.

Kortum said School Social Worker Jane Govola and Teacher Deb Dedeo pushed him to have higher expectations for himself and to learn how to troubleshoot life’s experiences.

“Before Questar, I was having trouble in school and trouble with other people; I was probably going to be a drop-out,” said Kortum. “But the staff at Questar wouldn’t let me fail, it felt more like they personally wanted to see us succeed opposed to it just being part of their job.”

Although he enlisted in the military for another year, Kortum plans to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology and is interested in pursuing a career with Cisco.



Young scientists present research

Catskill High School senior Kassadi Bulich presents her research, "Topical Glutathione: A Possible Celiac Disease Palliative."

Catskill High School senior Kassadi Bulich presents her research, “Topical Glutathione: A Possible Celiac Disease Palliative.”

On June 11, Questar III BOCES students in the New Visions Scientific Research & World Health Program presented the results of their research in a poster session held at University of Albany’s Gen*NY*Sis building located at its East Campus in Rensselaer.

Students were asked to identify specific health concerns in the U.S. and global community and then investigate the various biological, behavioral, environmental and social factors affecting those issues, and pose ways to diminish the problem.

The students’ presentations are a culmination of a 30-page graduate school level research paper and completion of 20 hours of job shadowing or webinars. Students presented visual presentations in the form of a poster that detailed their research methods, literary sources, findings and areas for future study.

Catskill High School senior Kassadi Bulich became interested in her topic after a presentation in class about using topical creams to treat headaches and theorized, if topical creams could be used to treat headaches, could a topical cream be used to lessen the symptoms of Celiac Disease in conjunction with a Gluten Free diet. One in 133 Americans has Celiac Disease and there is no cure; the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. Bulich will attend the University of Miami to study Biomedical Engineering and hopes to research this theory further.

Tamarac High School senior Alexandria Mitchell presented her research, "ABCA3 Gene Mutations and Distress Syndrome in Neonates."

Tamarac High School senior Alexandria Mitchell presents her research, “ABCA3 Gene Mutations and Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Neonates.”

New Visions teacher Ruth Russell said, “Students who participate in the program gain valuable tools to prepare them for college. Time management, how to research, write and present their work.” Two New Visions students attending the poster session commented on how much easier writing research papers in college is because of participating in the New Visions program.

Tamarac High School senior Alexandria Mitchell presented on ABCA3 Gene Mutations and Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) in Neonates. RDS is a breathing disorder that affects newborns, more commonly in premature infants. Mitchell spent 20 hours job shadowing in the NICU at Albany Medical Center and spoke to two researchers about their current research. A mutated ABCA3 gene causes reduced function of surfactant. This substance helps the lungs fill with air and keeps the air sacs from deflating. Mitchell recommended studying other genes that affect the ABCA3 gene to get a better understanding of which genes play a direct role in surfactant production.

Mitchell will attend Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences next year to study pharmaceutical sciences.

The accelerated half-day program is held at the University at Albany’s East Campus. Students then spend the rest of the school day in their home district.

To learn more about Questar III’s New Visions: Scientific Research & World Health program, click here



CGEC students honored at ceremony

Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Educational Center in Hudson honored students for achievement in academics and craftsmanship at the school’s 37th Annual Awards Night on June 3 at Columbia-Greene Community College.

Focused on providing skills for the 21st century workforce, Questar III offers students career and technical educational programs (CTE) for professional training and the opportunity to acquire industry-related certifications while they’re still in high school. Most students continue their education at community colleges or technical institutes.

The 2014 scholarship winners from Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Educational Center are:

  • Ava Cameron, AIT, Cairo-Durham
  • Gabrielle Cidras, Criminal Justice, Germantown
  • Ashley Daigneault, Cosmetology, Greenville
  • Thomas Lyon, Auto Technologies, Cairo-Durham
  • Caitlin Pasco, Cosmetology, Germantown
  • Vivian Salinas, Careers in Health Care, Cairo-Durham
  • Sierra Shufelt, Cosmetology, Chatham
  • Mariah Szlachetka, Cosmetology, Cairo-Durham
  • Tayler Warner, Culinary Arts, Coxsackie-Athens
  • Denise Waterhouse, Cosmetology, Hudson

Barbara Decker Memorial Award (for a Career Studies student with exceptional work ethics and a positive attitude):

  • Keith Auclaire, Automotive Services, Catskill

The Alice and Murray Giddings Foundation:

  • Benjamin Love, HVAC, Hudson

ACTE Scholarship:

  • Gabrielle Cidras, Criminal Justice, Germantown

Questar III congratulates all of this year’s graduates and award winners.

For a full listing of award and scholarship winners from the 2013-2014 school year, open the ANNUAL AWARDS PROGRAM


Students earn BEST award

Front Row (left to right): Denise Waterhouse, Sierra Shufelt, Ava Cameron, Christina Cook and Mariah Szlachetka Second Row (left to right): Megan O’Dell, Amber Vanderheyden, Beth Silvernail, Precious Taylor, Amber Osterhoudt Last Row (left to right): Frank Alguire, Greene County Economic Development; Dave Colby, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Paul; Taylor Oram; Stephanie Coons; Laura Cesternino; Simantha Murray; Sarah Hammond; Jonathan Bishop; Daniel Lamarre; Kayla Ruffin; Ashley Daigneault; Chelsey Simmons; Jeff Friedman, Greene County Chamber of Commerce. Not pictured: Wyatt Beaumont, Ashley Herber and Caitlin Pasco.

Front Row (left to right): Denise Waterhouse, Sierra Shufelt, Ava Cameron, Christina Cook and Mariah Szlachetka
Second Row (left to right): Megan O’Dell, Amber Vanderheyden, Beth Silvernail, Precious Taylor, Amber Osterhoudt
Third Row (left to right): Frank Alguire, Greene County Economic Development; Dave Colby, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Paul; Taylor Oram; Stephanie Coons; Laura Cesternino; Simantha Murray; Sarah Hammond; Jonathan Bishop; Daniel Lamarre; Kayla Ruffin; Ashley Daigneault; Chelsey Simmons; Jeff Friedman, Greene County Chamber of Commerce.
Not pictured: Wyatt Beaumont, Ashley Herber and Caitlin Pasco.

On May 28, 24 students from Questar III’s Columbia Greene Educational Center received the (Business Employment Standards Transition (BEST) Certificate Award. The BEST program certifies the work readiness of students. When they apply for local employment or admission to college they can easily demonstrate that they have the skills, behaviors and knowledge necessary for the workplace and/or college.

Students were required to complete a portfolio in addition to 25 hours of community service.

The program is funded by the Department of Economic Development for Greene County and supported by the Columbia and Greene County Chambers of Commerce.

Students create model wind turbines

On Wednesday, May 28, students in Questar III’s Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVAC/R) program in Troy were challenged to create and monitor mini wind turbines powered by solar energy.

The project was part of the nearly $200,000 “Improving Bridges for Clean Energy Training from High School to College and Career” grant awarded to Questar III, in collaboration with MESO, Inc, Morrisville State College, SUNY ESF and KidWind Project, from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Through this grant, Questar III, Tech Valley High School and the collaborators are developing project-based curricula integrating virtual and hands-on exercises in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and advanced technology.

Students used virtual computer-based programs as well as hands-on model wind turbines and solar panels to build and test a model city and electrical grid.

“Many people turn on a light switch without thinking of the multiple decisions made by others to keep the power flowing through the electrical grid,” said Glenn Van Knowe, vice president and senior research scientist of MESO, Inc. “By using newly developed computer activities, coupled with hands-on activities, students get a more complete picture of how the grid works.”

Raymond Pitcher of KidWind Project added, “The process of building the city and grid engages the students’ interest and allows them to gain a better grasp of the concepts. It is an important step in leading the student into much needed careers in energy efficiency and management.”

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, the grant will give students the opportunity to earn college credit through SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Morrisville State College. They will also work on-site with various energy partners including NYSIO and National Grid.

Strong passes the baton

Sue Strong, left, and Caitlin Dederick have been working together in preparation for Strong's departure and Dederick's new role.

Sue Strong, left, and Caitlin Dederick have been working together in preparation for Strong’s departure and Dederick’s new role.

Sue Strong, a school counselor at Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Educational Center for the past 15 years, will retire this month. Recently, Strong has been working with her replacement, Questar III Communications Specialist Caitlin Dederick, to prepare for the changing of the guards.

Over the years, Strong has helped students plan out their courses but has also introduced a number of morale boosting events such as the year-end celebration for students and staff.

“The best part of my job is working with faculty and students in our programs,” said Strong. “We have such great programs and I really believe in them. I found the perfect job.”

Strong said she is very thankful for the opportunity to be able to work with Dederick and show her the ropes before she leaves for good. Although Dederick has been a Questar III employee for three years writing about various CTE programs, the specifics to this particular job are many.

Dederick, who holds a master’s degree in school counseling and who worked as a counselor in several districts, said she is looking forward to returning the field.

“It’s huge to be able to have this time to work together and I’m so thankful Questar III supported that,” said Dederick. “Sue feels better handing it off, because this is her baby!”

Strong said she may work as a substitute after retirement, which will allow her to be accessible to Dederick during her transition.

“My advice to you,” said Strong to Dederick. “Always have fun and you’ll love coming to work. If the kids are having fun, they’ll love coming to school and they’ll love learning because it doesn’t feel forced.”

Criminal justice team wins 1st place

Criminal justice team advances to national competition

The winning team with Criminal Justice Teacher Dave Dimmitt and Teaching Assistant Ann Cioffi.

A team of criminal justice students from Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Educational Center in Hudson won first place at the 2014 New York State SkillsUSA Competition.

The Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) team of Gabby Cidras (Germantown), Stephen Naegeli (Ichabod Crane) and Sara Paul (Cairo-Durham) will now move onto the national competition in Kansas City, Missouri in June.

This first place finish continues Questar III’s record of success at statewide skills competitions. This is the tenth year in a row that at least one Questar III student has finished in the top three statewide.

Students from Questar III’s Columbia-Greene and Rensselaer educational centers competed in a wide range of contests at the SkillsUSA New York State Conference held April 23-25 at the Syracuse State Fairgrounds.

In total, more than 2,400 students across the state competed in this annual competition, which tests technical and professional skills through hands-on and written contests.

SkillsUSA is a national Career and Technical Education (CTE) student organization that promotes professional and personal growth and leadership through seminars and workshops, campus activities, community service and competitions.