CGEC alum excels in college

Kevin Kiefer, a Questar III Columbia-Greene Educational Center (CGEC) graduate, recently visited his former Construction Technologies classroom. He spoke with current students about his experience at CGEC and his current life as a college student at SUNY Delhi.

Kevin Kiefer meets with his former Construction Technologies teacher, Bill Ebel.

Kevin Kiefer meets with his former Construction Technologies teacher, Bill Ebel.

Kiefer spoke about how Questar III prepared him for college. He earned a 4.0 GPA for his first semester at college and said the coursework was a review of what he had already learned at Questar III.

Last month, Kiefer participated in the New York State Postsecondary Carpentry Contest held at Alfred State. He won first place and credits his two years as a SkillsUSA member at Questar III with helping him win. In June, he will go on to compete at the SkillsUSA National Competition in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Participating in SkillsUSA helped prepare me for the Postsecondary Competitions and gave me a lot of confidence because I knew what to expect,” said Kiefer.

He also encourages high school students to be active in the clubs and activities that are available to them because they often provide many opportunities.

I am a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and just this year I’ve traveled to builder shows in Las Vegas and Providence, Rhode Island.”

A 2013 Greenville CSD graduate, Kiefer is majoring in Carpentry. He plans to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology in Construction Management. Kiefer hopes to own a fine home construction business in the future.


Students gain hands on experience

Second year Aviation Maintenance students at Questar III’s Rensselaer Educational Center (REC) completed a week long internship at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia.

Aviation Maintenance students completed a week long internship at Stratton Air National Guard Base.

Aviation Maintenance students completed a week long internship at Stratton Air National Guard Base.

The students worked closely with multiple mentors on the maintenance and repair of an LC- 130 Ski Bird. The mentors each had a specialty they shared with the students such as hydraulics, controlled surfaces, avionics, sheet metal and the tool shop.

Moshe Rubin, a senior at East Greenbush, is thankful for the knowledge and experience the internship provided.

“I loved this internship. The mentors went into detail about what we wanted to know and gave me real world experience in the field,” said Rubin. “It allowed us to work on actual air crafts that are being used by the military and gave me a lot of pride to work on something and see how it progresses.”

Rubin plans to continue his education at Mohawk Valley Community College for Aviation Maintenance.

Brigit Swanson, a senior from Lansingburgh, enjoyed the opportunity to talk to female pilots who fly large planes.

“We received a lot of experience and it made me even more confident about pursuing the career,” said Swanson.

Swanson also plans to attend Mohawk Valley Community College in the fall for the Aviation Maintenance program. She then plans to move to Florida and continue her flight training.

Aviation Maintenance Technology provides students with a foundation of knowledge and hands-on experience in aviation production, maintenance and repair. Subjects covered include aviation mechanics, airframe and power plant. As part of the course, students also receive basic flight training.

Career Expo Set for May 7

Students at Career Expo 2013. This year's event will take place Wednesday, May 7 at Franklin Terrace Ballroom.

Students at Career Expo 2013. This year’s event will take place Wednesday, May 7 at Franklin Terrace Ballroom.

Students in grades 8-10, parents, educators and the community are invited to learn about exciting careers for the future at Career Expo 2014.

Career Expo 2014, to be held on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Franklin Terrace Ballroom in Troy, NY, will focus on careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Questar III BOCES and Brunswick CSD, Lansingburgh CSD, Schodack CSD and Troy CSD will be hosting the Career Expo, along with NEATEC and Troy Riverfront PTECH.

This free, interactive event will feature representatives from many careers who will show real-life examples of how science and technology affect all professions and also will provide information about local educational opportunities.

Schodack CSD Superintendent Bob Horan encourages students and parents to take advantage of the Career Expo to learn about emerging careers and talk directly with company representatives.

“Our students have really enjoyed this event in the past. It’s very engaging and they like how they can ask questions,” said Mr. Horan. “We will be encouraging our students and their parents to attend again this year. It’s a great event.”

In addition to exhibitors, there will be two panel presentations called Careers in Technology from 5:30-6 p.m. and Careers in Healthcare from 6-6:30 p.m.

This event is made possible by the New York State Education Department with federal funding under the Carl Perkins Vocational and Applied Education Improvement Act of 2006.

For more information about Career Expo 2014, please contact Pamela Mertz at or 518-273-2264.

Student earns internship

AIT student Chris Richardson from Questar III’s Rensselaer Educational Center (REC) has been offered a paid summer internship at Agora Games in Troy. Over winter break, Richardson completed a week long internship with the gaming company. His quality of work over the five days impressed his supervisor so much they offered him a paid internship for the summer.

Chris Richardson in his AIT class

Chris Richardson in his AIT class at Questar III’s REC.

A senior at Hoosic Valley CSD, Richardson is in his second year at REC. Richardson said he loved the diversity of the work at Agora and felt confident in his abilities as he worked on large and small scale projects.

At the internship, Richardson worked on an Android App that was released this month called AgoraSaurus. He was the only person that worked on the App and he enjoyed the freedom his supervisor gave him to work on the program.

“They trusted me to do what I thought was best for the game and talked to me as an adult,” said Richardson. “It was an amazing experience. I can’t believe I had the opportunity to work at this company. I really enjoy my AIT class and wouldn’t have had the opportunity for this internship without it.”

Richardson plans on continuing his education at Hudson Valley Community College to study Computer Science. He hopes to work in the gaming industry after college.


Science lesson through t-shirts

Students in Questar III’s Careers in Healthcare program created t-shirts depicting human anatomy. The students learned where organs are located within the body and wore their shirts at their Honor Roll presentation for students in other programs to learn from, as well.

Students wearing the anatomy shirts they created for their Careers in Healthcare program.

Students wearing the anatomy shirts they created for their Careers in Healthcare program.

Careers in Healthcare teacher Brian Gagne has his students complete this project every year.

“This project gives students a visual representation of human anatomy and physiology,” said Gagne. “They learn more from hands-on activities and they have fun doing it.”

Careers in Healthcare is open to high school seniors interested in learning about a variety of high demand health and emergency medical careers before entering college. Utilizing classroom instruction, professional speakers and real-life experiences at local health-related facilities, students establish a solid foundation for pursuing a career in the fast-growing field of health care. Students become certified as American Heart Association BLS/CPR instructors and may earn credit in a related college course.

Student seeks criminal justice career

Questar III Criminal Justice Program student Brianna working security at the Rensselaer Educational Center Open House.

Questar III Criminal Justice Program student Brianna Springstead working security at the Rensselaer Educational Center Open House.

Raised in a family full of criminal justice/law enforcement people, it’s no wonder why New Lebanon High School senior Brianna Springstead is working toward a career in criminal justice.

Brianna enrolled in Questar III’s Criminal Justice program for her junior year. Now in her second year of the program, Brianna spends each morning of the school day at the Rensselaer Education Center in Troy learning the skills and knowledge for a future in criminal justice. Among the topics she and her peers learn about are law enforcement, forensics, courts and law, corrections and private security. With field trips and meetings with professionals in the field an integral part of the program, Brianna said a class trip to the Rensselaer County Jail and a Mock Trial were some of her most enjoyable learning experiences.

“Although courts and law was not my personal favorite or my strong suit, the Mock Trial was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “Even though I was nervous for my testimony, not only was it helpful in ways of public speaking, but it also just brought the reality of the court room to life.”

Brianna said there is never a day she doesn’t enjoy the Criminal Justice program and attributes much of that to her teacher Amy Gillett.

“Mrs. Gillett has been a huge inspiration to me,” Brianna said. “She really wants me to get far and always pushes me to go harder, to push my limits. She puts things into the reality view of the job versus what the text book says.”

Brianna’s hard work has earned her several certificates and awards from Questar III. She was named Student of the Month in Dec. 2012, received Honor Roll, Perfect Attendance and CPR/First Aid Certificates and completed the NYS 8-Hour and 16-Hour Security Guard Licenses. She also earned FEMA Certificates in Diversity Awareness and Introduction to the Incident Command System for Law Enforcement.

Back in her school district in New Lebanon, Brianna recently presented to the New Lebanon Board of Education where she talked about the value of the program and said “it changed her life.” She exercises her athletic side as a member of the varsity softball team. Brianna served as a captain on the school’s varsity volleyball team earlier this year.

Outside of school, Brianna is gaining work experience in the field. Since summer 2013 she has been working with the Troy Police Cadets and said the program has helped her “create more short term and long term goals to work toward.” This spring, Brianna will start an internship with the Albany Police Department where she will gain experience on the administrative/paperwork end of things. She’s also looking forward to going on some ride-alongs with officers. She fits in all the other things she enjoys doing, such as dancing, horseback riding, art and writing.

Following graduation, Brianna hopes to join the Air National Guard as a boom operator. She said she has become acquainted with the Air National Guard and the specific job she would like to do. Her plans also include furthering her education by attending the University at Albany to study psychology and criminal justice.

For more information about Questar III’s Criminal Justice program, please visit

Chef receives ProStart Award

Culinary Arts teacher Chef Peter Desmond from Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Educational Center (CGEC) was recently honored with the ProStart Educator Excellence Award.

Chef Desmond receiving the ProStart Educator Excellence Award.

Chef Desmond receiving the ProStart Educator Excellence Award.

Recipients of the award are recognized as exceptional educators who demonstrate a strong commitment to the ProStart program, their students and the restaurant industry.

“It’s an honor and very humbling. I learn every day from my students,” said Desmond. “The greatest reward is to watch the students bloom with confidence throughout the two year program. Whether they decide to stay in the industry or not, the program provides them with the confidence to continue in their life and stand on their own two feet.

CGEC co-principal Jake Stomieroski is pleased that Desmond is being recognized for his hard work.

“We are proud of Chef Desmond and the opportunities he gives our students. They learn valuable skills from a dedicated teacher,” said Stomieroski.

Questar II’s award-winning Culinary Arts program teaches students the management and culinary skills needed for a career in the hospitality industry, including classroom study, lab work, mentored work experiences, and the opportunity to test their skills in competitions. The curriculum is based on ProStart, supported by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

ProStart is a national, two-year high school program that brings together the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders. As part of the ProStart Program, students apply what they learn in the classroom on the job, in real-world restaurant operations, they work with industry mentors and they learn the skills that are essential to the industry.

Students network at HVCC

Richard Hillman (HVCC), left, Keian Rivenburg, Robert Morin and Abu Mazumder (HVCC) smile for the camera after a full day of work.

Richard Hillman (HVCC), left, Keian Rivenburg, Robert Morin and Abu Mazumder (HVCC) present their finished network equipment rack at HVCC.

On January 18, three students from Questar III’s Academy for Information Technology (AIT) program in Hudson had the opportunity to visit Hudson Valley Community College and work with college students to disassemble, reassemble and network a lab equipment rack controlling more than 60 devices.

Ichabod Crane seniors Robert Morin and Keian Rivenburg, Chatham CSD junior Zachary Whiteman and their teacher Michael Knichel (also an adjunct professor at HVCC) spent the whole day at the college working with college students and HVCC Professor Kevin McLaughlin.

According to Mr. Knichel, these types of hands-on, work-based learning experiences are exactly what students need to be prepared for college or a career in Information Technology. All three Questar III students plan to attend HVCC after they graduate, and this experience allowed them to become more familiar with both the campus itself and the tasks that will be required of them.

“This was a great opportunity because they got to see how to set up a lab scenario which will help in a legitimate production network environment,” said Knichel. “The students were all very professional and worked well together.”

“I enjoyed the hands-on experience and applying what we have learned in class on live equipment,” said Whiteman. “It was also nice working with the college students; it gave me a feel of what I can expect when I go to college.”

The three students are enrolled in the Cisco Networking Academy, a program with a world-renowned curriculum that helps students prepare for industry-recognized certifications and entry-level information and communication technology careers. Students learn about computer systems and how to install, configure and troubleshoot networks.

To learn more about Questar III’s Academy for Information Technology program in Hudson or Troy, please visit


Preparing for takeoff


Hoosic Valley High School senior Dan McLaughlin is enrolled in Questar III’s Aviation program at Schenectady County Airport.

Coming from a family of pilots, it’s no surprise Hoosic Valley High School senior Dan McLaughlin has an interest in flying planes. When he told his guidance counselor he wanted to pursue it as a career, they immediately recommended the Aviation program through Questar III BOCES.

McLaughlin spends half his day at the Schenectady County Airport where he’s learning the skills and knowledge needed to pass the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam/FAA Private Pilot Flight Test. Students who successfully pass the exam receive their FAA Private Pilot Certification.

McLaughlin is using his mathematical skills to navigate and has even begun flying on his own; something he said will help prepare him for college.

“You get flying time right off the bat, so you’re already experienced when you go to college,” he said.

McLaughlin plans to use that experience at Schenectady County Community College for Aviation Science. He also plans on enlisting in the National Guard where he intends to fly planes as well. Looking even farther out, he plans to attend Siena College for a degree in Business.

McLaughlin said he would recommend the program to anyone with an interest in flying and someone who wants to learn new things each day.

“We get to meet people from different schools who have the same interest and passion for flying,” he said. “It’s really nice to wake up in the morning and look forward to going to school!”

To learn more about Questar III’s Aviation program please visit