Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends...
While Western New York basks in the glow of March Madness, I'd like to shine a light on our own athletics program, its economic impact, and, more importantly, the academic successes of our athletes.
In terms of the financial benefit that athletics can have on our students and their families, to date, 10 of our athletes have signed scholarships worth $1.3 million over four years. Colleges recruiting our students include Gannon, Campbell, Edinboro, Canisius, Daemen, and SUNY Buffalo and Albany for girls lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, golf, and track and field, and boys baseball.
Students earn these scholarships not only for being outstanding competitors, but also by proving themselves in the classroom. It is with complete awe that I sat at the Lancaster High School sports banquet in March and listened to the number of students and teams who not only achieved championship status at the sectional or state level, but did so while earning the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Scholar Team Award.
In fact, EVERY fall and winter varsity team received the Scholar Team Award. This means that not only do they possess athletic prowess, but while actively participating in their sport, practicing daily, and competing in their section and at the state level, these students maintained academic averages above 90 percent. Better still, our boys bowling team (98.558) and boys basketball team (97.281) were just this week notified they received the coveted NYSPHSAA Scholar Athlete State Champion Award for highest average in their sport! If this trend continues for the spring season, LHS would earn the NYSPHSAA School of Distinction Award for having 100 percent of its varsity teams receive the Scholar Team Award for the 2013-14 school year.
While maintaining their focus on academics, many of our students did very well in competition. For example, McKenzie Kuehlewind won the state championship in shot put. Ashley Grazen took top state honors in the 55 meter dash. In girls gymnastics, Courtney Bondanza brought home the state championship in the all-around event while Rachel Filipski captured the top spot in the vault, tying the state record. Courtney, Rachel, and Mackenzie Donner were part of the Section 6 team that won the team state championship.
Our current crop of athletes follows a deeply-rooted tradition of Redskins pride and achievement. For example, Sarah Saba recently surpassed a longstanding record held by Director of Secondary Instruction, Dr. Andy Kufel (Class of '96) for all-time career scoring in boys or girls basketball with 1,176 points. Mary Saxer (Class of '05) is working to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Mary holds the New York State record for indoor pole vault, recently won the Women's US Indoor Championships, and competed in the World Indoor Championships in Poland.
So, while the rest of the region is in the throes of March Madness, our winter sports banquet sparked a sense of 'March Gladness.' We wish our spring athletes the best in their upcoming competitions and look forward to the quest for the NYSPHSAA School of Distinction Award!
Michael J. Vallely
Superintendent of Schools