Faces of Dryden: #Lionpride

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At the Tuesday, Oct. 9 school board meeting at Freeville Elementary School, Superintendent Joshua Bacigalupi announced the creation of the new #lionpride award to recognize those whose dedication and investment in our school district make it a better place for all. The first #lionpride award was presented at the Monday, Oct. 22 School Board meeting.


Nominated by high school art teacher Elizabeth Sprout, this first award was fittingly bestowed upon Jody Soroka. In her nomination, Sprout shared, “Jody exemplifies the generosity and spirit of our community. Jody works tirelessly by creating a strong helpful community through her actions of helping others. Jody has stepped up to chair the 2018 Homecoming event taking place this month even though her children have graduated. She wants to make homecoming magical for our students. Jody consistently goes above and beyond to assist others in need within our community. Jody has numerous connections to students and families and is the conduit to connections for those in need. Jody puts out the call for assistance ranging in clothing, gift cards, food, and personal care products and the community jumps in no questions asked. Jody’s children have graduated from Dryden schools and she still makes things happen that benefit the greater good of our school experience for students and families.”


Soroka describes herself as a “behind the scenes” person, stating that her strength is organizing people to achieve a goal. She has held high goals for the school and community. Soroka established the group Parents Promoting Positive Change in 2012 to help foster an atmosphere of respect and encouragement in the Middle School when her girls were attending. “I’m not one to complain and not help come up with solutions.” And Soroka’s solutions start at the source, with people. “Relationship building is the key. We started with the building administrators.” Then came the parent groups and work groups. The groups identified their top priority issues and concerns for the school. They devised solutions and presented them to the administrators, who then worked to implement change.


Soroka was tasked in 2017 with chairing a homecoming committee, with a goal of improving the school/community connection and making homecoming more of a community-wide event. In her get-‘er-done style, Soroka identified key people, worked together to divide up the chosen tasks and renewed homecoming traditions. “Parents each took on a part of the homecoming celebration: the homecoming crowning, the dance, the bonfire. We chose an inspiring theme each year, ‘No Place Like Home’ from the Wizard of Oz for 2017 and ‘It’s Your Future’ from Back to the Future this year.”


Sprout said of her nomination, “Jody is a community and student-centered creative thinker. She has amazing ideas and a natural ability to bring together people to produce wonderful events and activities. When Jody reaches out with a need, our amazing community will step up and assist.”


Speaking of traditions, the Dryden Fire Station, 26 North St., will be the stage for a decades-old Dryden tradition. Kids of all ages are welcome to attend the annual Halloween costume contest, sponsored by the Fire Department and the Veteran’s Memorial Home, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31. After the parade of characters, Mike Lane, Tompkins County Legislator from Dryden, “and friends” will award prizes for the best animal, best monster, prettiest, and most original costumes. They also reserve a “Judge’s Choice” award for costumes that just strikes their fancy. While parents are welcome to participate, the prizes are for the kids.


After the contest, there will be the traditional fire truck rides around the village. Mike reminisced about participating in the annual costume contest back when he was a kid, just a few years ago. “The fire truck rides go back to the 1940s. The veterans have been hosting this since just after World War II.”

Gatherings and Games
How well do you know Tompkins County? New York State? Gather two of your most knowledgeable friends and head over to TheSpace@GreenStar for GeoWhiz. Held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, the goal of GeoWhiz is to promote geographic literacy, have a good time and raise some funds for the Varna Community Association. “GeoWhiz is a fun and entertaining competition where teams answer a variety of questions on geography. It’s a lot like a spelling bee but with questions about geography.”


The deadline to register a team of up to three people, ages thirteen or older, is this coming Thursday, Nov. 1. Teams are encouraged to select a name and seek sponsors. Prizes will be awarded for the best team name, the most sponsors and the most creative wrong answer, among some of the more traditional categories, such as the most correct answers and the most money raised.


Visit geowhiz.org for sample questions, study guides, the complete rules and a place to register.

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