News of Otsego County


The Art of Canstruction On Display at Southside Mall

The Art of Canstruction

On Display At Southside Mall

Taimoor Qazi, Marketing Director at the Southside Mall, admires a Rubik’s Cube made out of cans by BOCES as part of the annual Canstruction building competition, now on display at the mall. Other submissions include sushi, a golf course, an alligator, and a cross. The national event has donated over 40 million pounds of food to charity since it began in 1992 and is hosted in 150 countries around the globe. (Ian Austin/
There’s New Way To Help You Get High School Diploma

There’s New Way To Help

You Get High School Diploma


Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 18-19, 2014


Jim Cimko works one-on-one with Imelda Ortiz, an ESL student. (Ian Austin/
Jim Cimko works one-on-one with Imelda Ortiz, an ESL student. (Ian Austin/

There are 5,000 people in Otsego and Delaware counties who don’t have a high school diploma, Rob Lishansky, ONC BOCES’ adult education coordinator, estimates.

And he invites every single one of them to try again. “The more education you have, the better opportunities you have,” he said. “If we can get these people a diploma, they can get a better job and increase their quality of life.”

In September, ONC BOCES took over the free adult education program offered by the Oneonta City School District to help prepare adult learners to take the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) to get their High School Equivalency (HSE) certificate. “We were both servicing the same area, so it didn’t make sense to compete for students,” said Lishansky. “By collaborating, we’ve become more efficient.”

The TASC replaces the more familiar GED, which New York State stopped using last January. Students must pass all five sections – math, science, social studies, reading and writing – to earn the HSE, but they don’t have to pass them all at once. “The test is offered five or six times a year,” said Lishansky. “There’s no set time you have to complete the program by.”

All learning is tailored to the student’s individual needs, so when a student comes into the classroom, Lishansky, Jim Cimko or one of the other teachers will sit down and work with them. “We assess what their needs are, if they need ESL (English as a Second Language) help, and we go from there,” said Lishansky. “Working one on one helps build for success.”

Gary Grant, Oneonta, one of the students taking the test next week, was inspired by his daughter’s graduation to go back to school. “I dropped out in my senior year,” he said. “I want to finish up my degree and move back home to Miami.”

Having the program connected with BOCES also means that students can take any of BOCES vocational programs – nursing, cosmetology and automotive, for instance – for free. “The vocational training is a huge piece,” said Lishansky.

“Our students go on to run successful businesses.”

The program’s flexible hours and scheduling – students can come in whenever they want – helps make it easy for students to fit school back into their schedule. “Adults have other responsibilities than teenagers do,” he said. “They have jobs, families, but they make the effort to come here.”

“I dropped out because I got pregnant,” said Michelle Cash, Oneonta. “I’m a noon-hour aid, but want to work more with the kids, so I need to get my degree.”

The busy mom even brings her newest baby, Carter, to classes with her a few times a week.

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