Alumni Gather to Remember Immaculata Academy

After 92 years Immaculata Academy stands no more.

The private, all girls, Catholic High School in Hamburg New York closed its doors for the last time in June 2016. Last year the property was sold to Developer Anthony Cutaia through The Oaks at South Park LLC. In January 2020 demolition of the school began, making room for the apartments/condominiums that will be built on the land.

A small group of Immaculata Alumni visited the construction site to collect a brick to keep as memorabilia. Two of these Immaculata Alumni shared memories from their time at the school.

“We had some really great times.” said class of 1973 Alumni, Kathy Clark.

Clark and her friend, Linda Miller-Bolt, who also graduated from the school in 1973, agreed that their time at IA was overall a “good experience”.

“There were some clicks but really no bullying.” said Miller-Bolt. “Class sizes were about thirty students and we all stayed together with our homeroom freshman year so we didn’t interact with many other girls until sophomore year and even then everyone got along for the most part.”

“My least favorite part of the school would be the nuns,” Clark joked.

Although the nuns could be strict and mean at times, Clark and Miller-Bolt say the experience wasn’t all bad. “One memory I would say I enjoyed was the Father-Daughter Socials.” said Clark. “Every year was a different theme and there was a talent show and a dance. The Fathers loved it.”

Miller-Bolt added that her favorite memory was cheerleading.

“It might be hard for you to believe.” she joked, “I enjoyed cheerleading and I also enjoyed the dances at St. Francis (a nearby private all boys High School still open today).”

Both Alumni agreed that the best part of going to Immaculata was the friends they made.

“I think all the friendships we made were fantastic.” said Clark.

Although the building won’t be around anymore these Alumni will at least have the bricks and the memories to remember it by.

“We still stay in touch and hold many reunions for our friends and classmates.” said Miller-Bolt.

Miller-Bolt said the demolition represents the end of an era.

“No other girls will get to make their own memories there,” she said. “Regardless of whether it could have been saved or not, it’s gone now and it is sad.”

Scholarships Available for Returning Students

Hilbert College is offering some financial relief to returning students in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has upended lives across the globe.

The school, which converted all classes to distance learning through the summer in an effort slow the spread of the virus, is offering $1,000 scholarships to any returning students who register for the fall semester by April 15.

“We recognize the financial hardship this unprecedented situation has caused throughout the nation.” said Matt Heidt, Hilbert’s Director of Marketing and Communications.“We are trying to do everything we can to help our current students continue their education.”

Hiedt said that reimbursements will be automattically applied to fall semester tuition bills.

“No extra paperwork or application is required,” he said.

While students say they are appreciative of the money, some feel it isn’t enough.

Dylan Timmel, a junior going into his senior year at Hilbert College, has already registered for next semester.

“It helps a little but personally I feel students need more than $1,000,” he said.

Timmel said the amount just doesn’t make up for what he has lost.

“I feel the online classes are not offering me the full experience of the face to face classes which I had paid for,” he said.

In response to student’s concerns about the scholarship amount, Hilbert’s president, Dr. Michael Brophy, said they are continuing to ask students what they need to deal with the drastic changes brought on by the pandemic.

“We will work with all students returning if they need additional help for sure,” Brophy said. “We have to make sure it all adds up for students and the College.”

Heidt said students who are concerned about being able to afford next semester should contact the financial aid office for additional support.

“Our financial aid office is open and here to help,” Heidt said. “Please reach out to financialaid@hilbert.edu to explore all the options available to you.”

Hilbert Freshman’s Night Gig: Arena Change Over Crew

 

Andrew Wozniak is a busy guy.

The Hilbert College freshman not only attends classes full time, but he also works part time at the KeyBank Center in Downtown Buffalo. Wozniak’s job is to work with the change over staff, converting the event center into the set up it needs for any given event.

Since most of the events happen during the day, the only time the change over staff can do their job is at night.

While some event set ups can be completed before midnight other larger events can take all night to complete, sometimes ending at 6 a.m. Working all night and having to get up for a 9:30 a.m. class seems like something no college student would want to do. But Wozniak loves his job, he said.

“It can be challenging at times,” Wozniak said. “I don’t work these overnights too often. But when I work three of them in a row over the weekend and then go back to a normal school schedule it does mess with my sleep a little. But it’s manageable once I give it a few days and a lot of coffee.”

Wozniak said his arrangement with his boss helps him to balance his work and school schedules.

“They are very accommodating,” Wozniak said. “Once we got into a pattern where they knew if it was a weekday I wouldn’t be there past midnight, they would schedule me from 4 p.m. to midnight instead of 10pm to 4am.”

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Like anything else, working part-time while going to school also has some challenges.

“Yeah the negative side is that it causes a lot of stress,” Wozniak said. “I’m worrying about getting my homework done and studying for tests. I’m usually able to keep up with everything though so the goods do usually out-weigh the bad.”

Working any part-time job while going to school full time has its ups and downs. For Wozniak it’s no different, he said.

“Being a college student working part-time has perks,” Wozniak said. “You get spending money, you can pay your own car insurance, phone bill, pay for gas.”

 

Administrators Assess a Semester of Change

Another semester at Hilbert College has come and gone. The fall came with many changes to the campus, physically and academically. Now, as the college wraps up the semester and prepares to enter their spring 2020 semester, faculty and staff are reflecting on what went well and what could have been done better.

Gregory Roberts, Hilbert’s Dean of students said, “I think the fall semester has gone very well.”

One part of the semester Roberts highlighted was the Hilbert Reads program, in which all first year students are required to read a specific book and reflect on it in their classes.

“I had the chance to interact with quite a few students,” said Roberts. “It went very well for the students.”

Hilbert’s President, Dr. Michael Brophy said, “We opened the semester very positively.”

Highlighting a few good things from the semester, Brophy said, “We had a good orientation and we had an increase in the number of resident students. We also did a bunch of projects on campus over the summer, which I think were pretty well received by students.”

The school also saw academic changes and according to both Roberts and Dr. Brophy, these changes went well.

“We’re in our first semester of having classes five days a week,” said Brophy. “Friday is definitely more active on campus, which is good for prospective students to see. It was also good for faculty because it was a way for them to teach three days a week if they wanted to.”

Roberts talked about the new biology programs that have become available at the school.

“From an academic standpoint, that would be the biggest change on campus,” Roberts said, noting that the new labs built for the biology program were “about a half a million dollar project.”

Fall 2019 was just the beginning. Spring 2020 is going to come with even more changes, Brophy said.

“Over the next 12 months we’re going to go big with online learning,” he added, saying the school will offer more opportunities for people to take classes from all over the country.

The major concern administrators are trying to address and do better with next semester is the school’s online services, Brophy said.

“We can do a better job with technology,” he said. “Students should be able to take care of their finances online and we don’t have a way for you to do that yet.”

Roberts and Dr. Brophy also pointed students to surveys available to provide feedback on what they want to get out of their Hilbert experience. The surveys are very important to helping the college understand how to do a better job overall, Roberts said.

“If students are honest in filling these surveys out, they can be very helpful,” he added. “Questions need to be answered in the right tone, remembering that it’s all about making things better.”

Brophy agreed.

“Every faculty member gets that feedback and takes it really seriously as they improve their work for the following semester,” he said.

Hilbert College students, as you are wrapping up your fall 2019 semester, consider filling out the surveys on your Blackboard account. Voice your opinions and help the school make your spring 2020 semester even better than your last.

 

 

 

Prisons Struggle to Recruit Corrections Officers

The job of a corrections officer is not an easy one. Maybe that’s why the number of people working in corrections has dropped significantly over the past 20 years.

According to the current fact sheet found on the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website, the number of Corrections Officers in December 1999 was 22,112. As of November 1st 2019 the population has dropped to 19,040. That is a 13.9% decrease.

It may seem like only a small percentage but people working in the field say it’s an issue much bigger than that.

“Our prisons are short staffed.” corrections officer Sean McKiben said. “There’s not enough people to cover shifts. Many people are forced to work eight more hours after already working 16 hours. Also the inmate population is not decreasing. We absolutely need more people to take the exams.”

One of the exams McKiben is referring to is the Civil Service Exam. The DOCCS recently announced they would no longer require applicants to take this exam, in hopes that one less hoop to jump through might attract more applicants.

“The process is long and hard.” corrections officer Don Thorton said. “There’s still a physical you must pass, a fitness exam, a very thorough background check and a 1,600 question psych exam which, on average, 30 percent of people don’t pass.”

People seeking to become corrections officers then go to the New York State Correctional Services Training Academy for about eight weeks of training.

“Most either quit halfway through the academy or after a year of working in the prisons.” Thorton said. “Just getting through training is a stressful and demanding process. Maybe that is what makes people un-attracted to the job.”

Once you get the job, it’s not very glamorous either.

“It’s a thankless job.” said McKiben, “People look down on COs. They think we don’t do anything worthwhile.”

Thorton agreed saying, “You get little recognition. The public sees you as the bad guy.”

So if it’s not so great, then why should people want to do the job?

“I knew I wanted to serve the community and this job is the best way for me to help keep society safe.” explained Thorton. “The benefits are great too. You get great Health insurance, an awesome retirement plan and very generous time off which is important for your mental health.”

McKiben agreed.

“Stepping through those prison gates every day is not an easy thing to do,” he said. “This job is stressful and dangerous and it will change you.”

McKiben said that while the job is difficult it can also be rewarding.

“If you want a brotherhood that will always have your back and a decent paying job that you’re guaranteed work, then this is the job for you.”

Still, anyone looking to get into the field should consider all the challenges, Thorton said.

McKiben and Thorton agree that being a Corrections Officer is not an easy job but it is something you can be proud of. So why should you consider this job?

“It gives you the opportunity to serve your community and help keep people safe,” Thorton said. “Even if you don’t get publicly recognized for it, what more thanks do you need than knowing you’ve had a hand in protecting your community.”

St. Mary of the Lake Hosts Meat Raffle

St. Mary of the Lake parish community hosted their Seventh semi-annual meat raffle.

If you have ever been to a meat raffle before, you know they can get very crazy, very fast. As soon as the first game began, c

Every meat raffle works a little differently but this one was fairly simple.

“Each game costs either one or three dollars per ticket, which will give you several chances to win one of the meat items within that game.” explained Kenneth Constable, one of the event coordinators, “After five games there was an intermission during which we raffled off some door prizes including a freezer chest stuffed with a variety of meat. Then we played more games followed by the grand finale. If your ticket number is called during the finale you have to compete with the other winners to get the first pick of whatever meat you want. This goes on until we run out of meat. People get pretty wild during the finale.”

When you mix competition over meat with large amounts of alcohol, it’s no wonder people get wild at these things.

“We went through almost all four kegs of beer before intermission.” said Amanda Mituzas, a volunteer working in the bar. “We were worried we would run out of beer. Fortunately the last keg was just enough to last the rest of the evening.”

According to the pastor of St. Mary of the Lake, Father Ted Jost, this particular meat raffle was much bigger than any the parish had hosted before, “We hit a new record,” Jost said, “Over 300 people came out which meant we were pretty much at capacity. There wasn’t even an extra chair in the building.”

After the meat raffle concluded, and the crowd trickled out, the money was counted. Elizabeth Constable has been volunteering to handle the money raised at every meat raffle since her parents started running it three years ago. “We still have to pay the meat bill.” said Elizabeth, “But I can confidently say that, even after the bill is paid, we will have raised at least five thousand dollars.”

According to the meat raffle hosts, Ken and Therese Constable, all the money raised will go to the parish.

“The money raised during the meat raffle is a huge help to the parish,” said Jost, “We need it to pay heat bills, electric bills, repairs, and so many other things. That being said, I don’t think we will ever stop doing the meat raffle. It’s a fast and fun way to raise money to benefit the parish community. Plus everyone gets to come out and have a good time with fellow parishioners, friends, and family.”

Jost encouraged anyone and everyone to come out to the next meat raffle at St. Mary of the Lake. “We love the outstanding attendance we saw tonight, however we could definitely use more volunteers,” Jost said. “So please help out next time if you can.”

The next meat raffle will be held on Friday, May 22nd 2020. All are welcome to attend and volunteer. More information on how to get involved can be found at smolparish.org.

Pre-med Program Offers Students More Options

A  cafe and arcade room aren’t the only changes Hilbert College students are seeing this semester.

Now students who are interested in studying medicine, pharmaceuticals, DNA analysis and laboratory sciences can begin their path at the college. The school’s new Laboratory Sciences program will help students begin their journey to further education and career opportunities in medicine. Over this past summer the school completed construction of a new and modern science lab, making it possible for students to begin enrolling in this fall semester.

“Hilbert’s new science degree is a four-year program that provides students with a solid foundation of knowledge in the natural/physical sciences,” according to the Forensic Science and Laboratory Sciences page on Hilbert’s official website.

Habibul Bakht, assistant professor of Biology at Hilbert, said the new program is likely to attract new students to the school.

The program will prepare students for further education by offering them the required classes to get into a medical program, nursing program or any other professional program. Students will get everything they need to qualify for exams to get into professional programs from Hilbert, including recommendations needed from our faculty as well as from the coordinator, Bakht said.

“I’m very optimistic because for the first year we were only expecting ten students,” Bakht said. “Now we currently have sixteen students enrolled in the program. We see there is so much interest. So we are expecting in future there will be more.”

Kristina Lantzky, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, said students who are currently attending Hilbert College and want to go into one of these professional programs can benefit from this addition as well.

“If you love Hilbert, you don’t have to leave now because you can do all of your prerequisite work here and then transfer to another institution or stay for a four year degree,” Lantzky said.

Hilbert’s new science program will compare to that of other institutions, she added.

“We’re going to grow our science programming to reflect the strength of our law and justice programming,” Lantzky said. “That’ll be very different than other institutions. Other institutions may have a stand-alone biology program but we hope to be able to use the science programming to work with other areas and get creative in what we build as programming.”

Hopes are high for Hilbert College and their new program.

“Over the next five years Hilbert has set out an aggressive enrollment plan in terms of our Hilbert 2025,” said Lantzky. “What we’re looking to do is to grow enrollment from where we’re at now at about eight hundred students to hopefully over one thousand.”

Students interested in majoring in a pre-professional program at Hilbert can start by speaking to either Katelyn Letizia, the Registrar, or Damian Desbordes, the Coordinator for Academic Advisement and Pre Professional Program Advisor.

“When you look at pre-professional programs the idea of them are to prepare you for that next step,” said Desbordes. “So any one of the students who would decide to go into one of these tracks would have their advisor as me or Katelyn.”

Lantzky encourages students interested in a pre-professional program to consider Hilbert College.

While you’re taking advantage of all the other new and exciting things Hilbert is offering this semester, take some time to consider if the new Laboratory Sciences and pre-professional program is something you would like to take advantage of as well, Lantzky said.

“Whoever wants to go to med school, we will advise you through the process,” Lantzky said. “We don’t set a limit. I know that there are currently students here that are interested and so if they are interested they should go to our website and find out where they can head to get information.”

Hawk Radio Trunk-or-Treat

Hawk Radio partnered up with the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Court 1311 to host a Trunk or Treat event on Sunday October 27th at Our Mother of Good Counsel church in Blasdell. Although the weather was not great the event moved indoors, allowing children to enjoy trick or treating at each table instead of outside in the rain. Children enjoyed cider and donuts, face painting, a costume parade and contest, and of course lots of candy.