Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle - March 24, 2019
by Caurie Putnam
From July 16 to 24, thousands of veterans, dignitaries and history buffs are expected to gather in Alameda, California, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 recovery.
Among them will be Tom Hetherington of Hamlin, who served on board the aircraft carrier USS Hornet CVS12 when astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins splash downed in front of him (in person) and the eyes of the world (on television) on July 24, 1969.
The astronauts, who landed in the Pacific Ocean, 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, had just completed the world’s first successful lunar landing mission.
“I can’t believe it has been 50 years,” said Hetherington, who also participated in the Apollo 12 recovery. “It was such a significant time in American history.”
Altogether, Hetherington served eight years in the US Navy, 3 1 / years of which were on the Hornet. He did two tours off the coast of Vietnam from 1967 to 1969 while the ship provided pilot rescues, coastal surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and Seal team insertions and extractions.
Hetherington was also involved in a special operation against North Korea in April 1969 following the deaths of 31 service members after their naval observation plane was shot down in international air space.
The Hornet CVS 12 was originally named the USS Kearsarge, but renamed the Hornet after the historic USS Hornet CV-8, which launched the Doolittle raid and was lost in October 1942. It’s most widely known for its recovery operation of the Apollo 11 crew and Hetherington, with his front-row seat to history, has amazing stories to share.
“When I first had visual contact the white and orange chutes popped out and you saw them going down into the ocean,” Hetherington said. “They came out of their capsule and onto the raft. There was applauding when they came on. We had to stay back a certain distance because NASA was worried about moon bugs.”
The Apollo 11 crew was immediately placed into a mobile quarantine capsule with a large window. Journalists, the ship’s crew and dignitaries, including President Richard Nixon and Adm. John Sidney McCain Jr. watched the incredible scene unfold.
“We knew the eyes of the world were on us,” Hetherington said. “The astronauts were waving to us and very excited, I hung upside down from a catwalk with my Kodak camera taking pictures.”
As the massive ship headed to Pearl Harbor, a broomstick was hung from the mast to signify the splashdown mission was a “clean sweep” (successful mission).
The Hornet CVS 12 was decommissioned in 1970. Hetherington’s name is listed inside as a plank member — someone who helped purchase the ship. It’s now at Alameda Naval Base where it’s a national and state landmark open for tours, Scouting events, weddings and more.
After Hetherington left the Navy he worked as an engineer at Kodak for 24 years, earning a master’s degree from Roberts Wesleyan College. He also served with the U.S. Army National Guard and as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Hamlin and Churchville for many years. Currently he’s a bus driver with the Brockport Central School District and active with Rochester’s Chapter 20 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
“I’m pretty excited to get back with the CVS 12 guys and my Vietnam veteran buddies,” said Hetherington, about the upcoming, eight-day-long Splashdown 50 Celebration at and around the ship. “It’s going to be big.”
To learn more about the Splashdown 50 Celebration, visit uss-hornet.org.
Senior citizen residents of the Brockport Central School District are invited to a complimentary breakfast at A.D. Oliver Middle School, located at 40 Allen St., from 8 to 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15.
Hosted by student council members, the breakfast is held annually to recognize and support the important connections between our community’s youth and senior citizens.
The event includes a complimentary breakfast with student council members, staff, administrators and board of education members. Student performers will provide live entertainment during and after the meal.
Seniors are asked to RSVP via phone to 585-637-1860 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, May 11.
One bus will be available for pick up at the Sweden Senior Center upon request. Seniors wishing to utilize the bus should include the request with their RSVP.
Musical excellence earned twenty Brockport High School students induction into the Tri-M Music
Honor Society this year.
The Tri-M Music Honor Society is an honor society for secondary school music students that focuses on building leaders and music advocates. The goal of the society is to foster greater interest in musical performance and to provide more opportunities for personal musical expression.
Students are selected for membership in the honor society on the basis of musicianship, scholarship, character, leadership and service to their school and community. The organization’s
high standards serve to challenge students to greater effort and achievement and to encourage
them in the pursuit of excellence.
Twenty students from various music ensembles and classes were recognized during an induction
ceremony at Brockport High School on March 21.
As voted on by the candidates and current members, longtime music teacher Susan Boring was inducted as an honorary member for her dedicated service to the district music department and for upholding the standards and ideals of the Tri-M Music Honor Society.
The Brockport Tri-M Music Honor Society was formed last year under the leadership of music
teachers Kristen Swift and Victoria Valente.
Neil Czerniak IV
Excellence in scholarship, service, leadership and character earned 45 Brockport High School
students admittance into the National Honor Society this year.
Students were presented with certificates during an induction ceremony held at Brockport High School on Jan. 8.
The evening began with greetings and remarks by High School Principal Dr. Brian Weller, then
National Honor Society advisors Patricia Arnold and Rebecca Barrett spoke about past NHS
successes and future opportunities.
This year’s keynote address was delivered by Garth Fagan, iconic dance choreographer born in
Jamaica who moved to Rochester where he established his own dance company.
Fagan inspired students with his messages of hard work leading to success. He shared the importance of both formal and experiential education and explained the philosophy of being demanding of oneself before putting demands on others.
The evening concluded with a reception for students, teachers and family members to celebrate
their tremendous accomplishment.
Ann Marie Marseglia
Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle, January 21, 2018
by Caurie Putnam
Between them, Brockport High School seniors Peyton Young and Samantha “Sami” Rogers have three sectional titles – hockey and soccer for Peyton and indoor track for Sami.
But, those aren’t the pinnacle of their outstanding high school sports careers.
“Unified basketball is,” Peyton says, with Sami nodding in agreement. “It’s the best thing I’ve done in high school sports.”
Peyton and Sami, who are long-time good friends, will start their second season on Brockport’s unified basketball team this spring. Unified basketball is a Section V sanctioned sport that debuted here in 2015 and is run in partnership with Special Olympics New York.
Rosters are a mix of students with cognitive and other disabilities (referred to as partner players) and those without. Teams play other Section V teams and all players must commit strictly to unified (they cannot play another varsity spring sport).
“I love the inclusiveness of it,” said Peyton, who gave up playing varsity baseball for unified basketball. “It’s just really fun and it’s great to see how all the kids really put their hearts into it.”
Peyton, 18, and Sami, 17, didn’t know any of the non-partner players when they signed up, but both quickly bonded with Jordan Whitehair, 16.
“The first practice he was sitting on the sidelines all alone and I just went over and talked to him and before I knew it I had a new best friend,” Sami said.
Jordan, whose father Doug Whitehair describes as “grumpy and not easily motivated,” fell in love with unified basketball thanks to Sami and Peyton’s friendship.
“It’s been amazing and very special to see the friendship develop,” Doug said. “They’ve brought him in and accepted them. He loves them both deeply and has a lot of fun with them.”
When Jordan made his first basket last season Sami broke down in tears on the court. And, when she played in her final varsity soccer game in the fall, she chose Jordan as the person she admired most. Peyton escorted Jordan onto the soccer field during the senior night celebration to stand with Sami.
Their unified basketball experience has been so positive it influenced Sami and Peyton’s senior project choices (at Brockport, seniors are required to complete a senior project that explores an interest of theirs).
Peyton is raising money via GoFundMe to purchase playground toys and equipment to make recess more inclusive for all students and Sami is organizing a dance for students with special needs on the west side to be held on April 27 at the A.D. Oliver Middle School in Brockport.
“I just want to give back to all the kids that have done so much for me,” Sami said. “They are all so smart, so happy and so capable in their own ways.”
Also in part because of their unified experience, both Sami and Peyton want to pursue careers assisting kids with special needs. Peyton, who will attend the College at Brockport, wants to be an adaptive physical education teacher and Sami, who will attend Nazareth College, wants to be a speech pathologist.
“In unified, for all the kids involved, there’s so much personal growth you don’t get in a classroom,” said Mike Zale, a Brockport teacher who coached unified basketball last year. “Jordan is a student who has a hard time sometimes coming out of his shell, but Peyton and Sami earned his trust. That type of trust is not easy to earn…they’re all extraordinary kids.”
Brockport Central School District will again open its doors to the community as a distribution site for Foodlink's Mobile Pantry.
From 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 6. food will be set up in the Brockport High School cafeteria and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Families should bring boxes or bags to transport the food.
The Foodlink Mobile Pantry provides food at no charge to people 18 and older, with no income or residency requirements.
Foodlink staff and district volunteers unload, set-up and distribute food directly to families in attendance.
Tickets are on sale now for the Brockport High School Drama Club’s 2017 fall production Curtains.
Shows will be held in the Brockport High School auditorium Nov. 9 to 11 at 7 p.m. and
Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.
Curtains is a new musical comedy send-up of backstage murder mystery. When the talentless
star of a musical is murdered on opening night, Lieutenant Frank Cioffi arrives to solve the
mystery and finds himself drawn into the dramatic world of the production.
Advance-sale tickets are $12 and can be purchased by visiting www.showtix4u.com or going to
the Brockport High School greeter’s desk during school hours. Tickets at the door will be $15.
The Foodlink Mobile Pantry will return to Brockport on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
Food will be set up in the Brockport High School cafeteria from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Families should bring boxes or bags to transport the food.
The Foodlink Mobile Pantry provides food at no charge to people 18 and older, with no income
or residency requirements.
Foodlink staff and district volunteers unload, set-up and distribute food directly to families in attendance. Members of the Brockport JV girls soccer team, National Honor Society and other student groups will also assist.
Get your blue and white ready! Community members are invited to join Brockport Central School District for its annual homecoming celebration on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.
The community event begins at 5 p.m.with the third annual homecoming festival. Food trucks, face painting, carnival games and a local DJ will return this year, along with the festival’s newest addition: pony rides. The festival will run through 7 p.m. in front of Brockport High School.
The homecoming parade begins at 5:30 p.m., where it will make its way from A.D. Oliver
Middle School to Dahn Walrath Stadium.
Each high school class will decorate a float according to this year’s theme: Disney/Pixar. Freshman will represent Finding Dory, sophomores will depict Monsters Inc., juniors will portray Toy Story and seniors will illustrate Up.
A multitude of bands, clubs, sports teams, alumni and other community groups will also march in the parade.
If you would like to enter a float or become a parade sponsor, please fill out a form posted on the high school webpage at www.bcs1.org/homecoming.
The homecoming festivities will conclude with the varsity football game against Greece Athena,
which kicks off at 7 p.m. in the Dahn Walrath Stadium.
Parking for the homecoming events will be available throughout the village and on the district
If you have any questions, please call Assistant Principal Mike Bourne or class advisors Marcia Bartalo and Shannon Sevor at 585-637-1870 or email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Each school will participate in a variety of events leading up to homecoming, including pep rallies and themed days throughout homecoming week.
The Brockport Central School District Board of Education appointed Karl Dubash as assistant principal at the A.D. Oliver Middle School effective July 1.
Dubash succeeds Eric Vaillancourt and will work with the eighth-grade cohort.
Most recently Dubash served as interim assistant principal in the Rush-Henrietta Central School
District, where he taught mathematics at Rush-Henrietta High School for 12 years.
Within the Rush-Henrietta Central School District, he also served as a summer school assistant principal and geometry instructional coach.
“We are very excited to welcome Karl Dubash to our OMS family,” said Oliver Middle School
Principal Melody Martinez-Davis. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership skills to our
district and will be a great addition to our administrative team.”
Dubash received a Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Oswego, a Master’s of
Mathematics Education from St. John Fisher College and a bachelor’s degree from the State
University of New York College at Brockport.