Discovering Dryden: Dryden High School participates in national tree lighting


The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was held on Nov. 28. This year marked the 96th Anniversary of this beloved, national tradition, held at the President’s Park in Washington, D.C. Every state is represented in the decor of the trees. This year, Dryden High School was selected by the Commissioner of the New York State Department to represent New York State. The students and teachers at Dryden High School set about creating 24 original ornaments. The photography, graphic design, and AP studio art classes at Dryden High School utilized different mediums such as clay, paint, and digital art, to decorate their ornaments. The decorations are all New York State-themed. This was reflected in the representation of famed foods from New York, the state’s representative flora and fauna, and even scenes of Ithaca and Buttermilk Falls. Congratulations to the students of Dryden High School for their creativity and participation in this historic event.

Dungeons & Dragons
John Howard, a long-time lover of the social and connecting power of games, wanted to connect the local game playing community. So, he founded the Cortland Area Gamers Guild in April of 2017. “I founded it as a way that they could get together, meet each other, meet new people, could find people who play, or to teach,” Howard explained. Only a year and a half later, the group has grown to 123 members.

Howard, like most teens, played games, including role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, growing up. However, it wasn’t until his time in the military that he really came to love Dungeons & Dragons. “When I was in the Marines, during Desert Storm, we ended up in the desert for a while after the war was actually over, and we were all kind of bored, so we started playing Dungeons & Dragons, and that’s when I got hooked,” Howard said. Having spent 18 years in the military, in the Marines and then in the New York National Guard, and having been deployed a lot, Howard explained that “there were times when we didn’t have anything to do. So, a lot of us would play games.” Howard has continued to enjoy games in his life, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, and created a hub for other local gamers, a safe place to meet, to play together, to learn together, in the creation of the Cortland Area Gamers Guild.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game in which players create unique characters. As a group, they participate in an imaginary story, created and led by a Dungeon Master, a role that Howard will be filling for the upcoming teen event, Dungeons & Dragons, at the Southworth Library. Together players experience fighting foes, overcoming obstacles, creating goals, and participating in epic quests.

Aside from the entertainment and fun, Dungeons & Dragons is educational, socially engaging, and technology and prop free. Howard explained the variety of ways that this game brings up both philosophical and moral questions. It allows kids to think for themselves, and to practice thinking critically. As a group, and individually, players create goals. They set about meeting them, often needing to reassess their goals, make new plans, work together, and sometimes change the course of their game altogether. The group dynamic present in such games allows players to get away from their phones and technology, and to practice working as a team. The game also utilizes reading, writing, and basic math skills.

“You don’t need money to play Dungeons & Dragons. You need imagination,” Howard said. There are no necessary props. “For Dungeons & Dragons, everything that they need, they already have. Pencil, paper, and imagination.”
If your teen could benefit from a warm, friendly social environment, enjoys games, critical thinking, and creativity, join the Dryden Dungeons & Dragons Gamers Guild at Southworth Library, 24 W. Main St, on Friday, Dec 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. Bus transportation is available from Dryden High School with a signed permission form. Contact the Southworth Library for more information at

For adult gamers, of Dungeon & Dragons or any other games, visit the Cortland Area Gamers Guild Facebook page at Newcomers are welcome.

Dryden Rail Trail and the Reindeer Run
On Saturday, Dec. 1, amongst the many festive events happening in Dryden, there was the Reindeer 5k. The race was hosted by the Dryden Recreation Department. The 5k course started at Montgomery Park, then followed the Rail Trail to a turn-around at George Road. In the accompanying photo, we see members of the Rail Trail Task Force and members of the community, even Santa himself, celebrating the Reindeer Run at the new Rail Trail kiosk on Main Street, in Dryden. Congratulations runners!


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