News of Otsego County

Cooperstown Central School

Transplant ‘didn’t take’ so supporters launch search for new donor

Transplant ‘didn’t take’ so supporters launch
search for new donor

[Editor’s note: Last week, we published a letter from Ln Alessi about her daughter, Vincenza, a 2012 Cooperstown Central School graduate who received a bone marrow transplant. This is an update to that letter.]

“Scary news today, the transplant didn’t take,” Ln Allesi posted on Facebook last week. “We are praying for strength and wisdom.”

With that, Cooperstown Central teachers Jennifer Pindar and Rebecca Sciallo jumped into action to help Vincenza find a matching donor.

Letter: A grateful heart for our community

A grateful heart for our community

Two years ago it was discovered that my daughter Vincenza was suffering from an unspecified bone marrow failure, where her own body was destroying her red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. She didn’t have enough and was literally suffocating. Fast forward to now, with a lot of treatment in between, she is at N.Y. Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center recovering from a bone marrow transplant, compliments of her brother!

These two years represent ups, downs, fears, and uncertainty of huge proportion. We have all felt depleted right to our core. As the result of friends, neighbors and loved ones, we have forged ahead. Yet because of the community we call home, we were blessed with more support, compassion, love and prayers than one could expect.

It started with a large Christmas package which arrived filled with all of the things she would love. It was clear that each gift had been selected for her. The elves responsible were the individuals who have provided care to Vincenza on a daily basis at the Cancer Center for the last 23 months. They wanted her to know they missed her and were optimistic about her recovery. We cried and felt so embraced by this act.

Schools reopen, protocols in place

Schools reopen, protocols in place

School districts in Otsego County reopened on Monday, January 3, amid a continuing rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, with the Omicron variant chiefly responsible.

But the response from the various superintendents was to stay the course and continue protocols that work for them, including guidelines such as mask wearing and social distancing.

Cooperstown Central School Superintendent Sarah Spross said district protocol last changed in mid-December, with layered mitigation strategies provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Otsego County Department of Health, and the New York State Department of Education. The guidelines include designating three-foot distancing spaces throughout school buildings.

Teachers: Our 2021 citizen(s) of the year
Original illustration for The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta by Lianna Witherspoon

Teachers: Our 2021 citizen(s) of the year

Perhaps we can look at The Pandemic as some hideous, great equalizer: it spares no person, no profession, no walk of life. COVID demands that everyone, regardless of age or status, adapt to new or modified practices that are at best unpleasant and annoying, at worst, life-changing.

Our health care professionals, caregivers, and first responders to whom we owe so much and, yes, our representatives at all levels of government (and their staff) whose lives have been upended for the past two years deserve our appreciation. So, too, do the restaurateurs and merchants and their hard-working employees who work each day to deliver a good dose of ‘the old normal’ as we push into this present and future we’ve grown tired of calling ‘the new normal.’

Cooperstown Central School approves gym project referendum

Cooperstown Central School approves gym project referendum

Voters in the Cooperstown Central School district approved a $2.5 million capital project referendum to make improvements to the elementary school gym, Tuesday, December 14.

The project was approved back in 2019 but was delayed because of COVID. The cost of the project increased during this time, causing superintendent Dr. Sarah Spross to bring the project up for another vote.

CCS Thespians bring live musical back to the stage

Avery Croft (Mole) and Madison Hayes (Ratty) work it out in the rowboat. (Tim Iversen)

CCS Thespians bring live musical back to the stage

By TED POTRIKUS • Special to

Kenneth Grahame’s beloved book “The Wind in the Willows” comes to life on stage when the Cooperstown Central School’s CCS Thespians open a weekend’s worth of performances beginning November 12.

“This is a huge undertaking, but we’re so excited,” said CCS music teacher and show director Tim Iversen. “We planned on a different show but we wanted to get as many people on stage participating as we could.”

Lack of childcare option in pandemic frustrates Cooperstown parents

Lack of childcare option in pandemic frustrates Cooperstown parents

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

Lack of childcare in Cooperstown Central School District is causing a crisis for many families of young children.

The Clark Sports Center had previously served the role but now is closed for children under 12 because of COVID pandemic restrictions.

Mary Jane Sansevere, a Cooperstown resident with a husband and two children, said her family was forced to move her children out of the school district because of a lack of childcare. She also resigned her position in Cooperstown and took a job at Schenevus Central School as a pre-k teacher.

“Childcare in this town is sort of at a crisis level,” Sansevere said in a conversation with

Mebust hopes to close swim career with NCAA run

Mebust hopes to close
swim career with NCAA run

By GREG KLEIN • Special to


One of the top swimmers in the region has been training for his college senior season with a goal in mind, the NCAA Division III championship.

Ted Mebust, a 2018 Cooperstown Central School graduate, missed almost a year of swimming at Bowdoin College because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he and his fellow 2021-22 captains have been planning to make up for it their senior year.

“We’re all living together. We’re all close as a team. So, we have been talking about how to establish or reestablish a team camaraderie, so to speak,” Mebust said in the phone interview with The Freeman’s Journal on Monday, Aug. 2.

When he was last in a competitive meet — Bowdoin, in Brunswick, Maine, had students on campus in the spring and the Polar Bears had a short training season, but no regulation competitions — Mebust had the best meet for his team at its conference tournament, the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship, Feb. 20 to 23, 2020, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Mebust placed second in the 50 backstroke, third in the 100 back and seventh in the 50 freestyle.

Schools prepare for delta variant

Schools prepare for delta variant

By Kevin Limiti • Special to

With the delta variant of the coronavirus virus causing jumps in cases across the county and the country, some Otsego County school districts are gearing up to welcome kids back to classes with masks on.
This is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, which has labeled Otsego County as a “substantial transmission” area where, in theory, masks are recommended indoors regardless of vaccination status. COVID cases have been on the rise across the country.

In Otsego County, as of Aug. 9, there were 72 active cases and four hospitalizations.

In Cooperstown Central Schools, while instruction will be in person, there will be a universal indoor mask policy as well as three-foot social distancing while maintaining cleaning and disinfecting at the schools.

Alum, SUNY Oneonta grad take CCS jobs
Shirley Tyler and Karl O’Leary have been hired as Cooperstown’s director of athletics/extracurricular activities and high school principal, respectively. (Greg Klein/

Alum, SUNY Oneonta
grad take CCS jobs

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

Cooperstown Central School has new leadership in its middle/high school again.

The school’s Board of Education has made two hires in the past month, picking Karl O’Leary as the new
principal and Shirley Tyler as the new coordinator of athletics and extra-curricular activities.

O’Leary started his career as an English teacher and served as principal of Moravia Central School for two years and most recently as assistant high school principal at Middle Country Central School on Long Island. He graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2002 and then got advanced degrees from SUNY Cortland and University of New England.

Leonard became Milford’s pioneer wrestler, Coop legend

Leonard became Milford’s pioneer wrestler, Coop legend
Despite losing senior season to pandemic, grappling career will continue with college recruitment

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

Avery Leonard, a Milford/Cooperstown wrestler, goes for a pin during the 2020-2021 state tournament in Albany in February 2020.

MARYLAND — As he could see his senior season of wrestling being washed away by the coronavirus pandemic, 2021 Milford Central School graduate Avery Leonard said he relied on his philosophy of life, “worry about what you can control, let go of everything you can’t control.”

“I have always run with that saying,” he said, Monday, July 19.

Leonard and his father/wrestling coach, Nate Leonard, spoke with at their “summer home” on Goodyear Lake, about his career and losing his senior season after spending three years working toward a state title.

After COVID delay, Cooperstown teacher plans overseas trip for 2022

After COVID delay, Cooperstown
teacher plans overseas trip for 2022

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to

Cooperstown Central School students gather for a group picture in front of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna during a 2016 overseas trip with history teacher Jennifer Pindar.

For more than 15 years Cooperstown High School history teacher Jennifer Pindar has loved leading student groups on educational trips abroad, a tradition she will continue after the coronavirus pandemic canceled last year’s trip.

In 2022, Pindar will lead a student trip to London, Belgium and Amsterdam. The destinations were agreed on in consultation with educational travel company World Strides. Along with Pindar, students will be accompanied by tour guides from World Strides and parents and teachers who agree to chaperone. The school is not involved in this trip.

The itinerary includes Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and other attractions. Students will also take excursions around Brussels and Bruges in Belgium. In Amsterdam, highlights will include visits to the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.

Rotary announces 2021 award winners

Rotary announces
2021 award winners

William Moody and Ellie Hotaling accepted their Rotary awards Tuesday, July 6, during a ceremony at The Otesaga Resort Hotel.

The Cooperstown Rotary Foundation announced the winners of two scholarships for 2021 graduates during a ceremony Tuesday, July 6, at The Otesaga Resort Hotel.

Cooperstown Central graduate Ellie Hotaling is the recipient of the Catherine Davis Black Scholarship.

William Moody, an Oneonta High School and BOCES graduate, is the recipient of the Michael Mayne scholarship.

Moody and Hotaling were acknowledged at their high schools’ commencement ceremonies and received the $1,200 scholarships at the Rotary Club’s luncheon.

The Catherine Davis Black Scholarship award was created in 2015 in memory of Catherine Black, who was a charter member and a founder of the local Rotary Club’s tax-deductible charity.

Black was the first female president of the Cooperstown Rotary Club and went on to be one of the first female district governors. Since Black had a special interest in early childhood education and music, the scholarship criteria stipulates the recipient should be planning to pursue a career in one of those areas, as well as having demonstrated the Rotary tenet of “Service Above Self” by volunteering and contributing to their community.

The speech I did not give to the class of 2021


The speech I did not
give to the class of 2021


About two weeks ago I got a message from the other Tara in my life, Cooperstown Sports Booster Club President Tara Loewenguth, letting me know that despite COVID restrictions I was invited to the annual end-of-year sports banquet.

It wasn’t an unusual text and I politely declined. I don’t do a lot of banquets, but as a Cooperstown booster and after a fun spring of sports coverage, I thought nothing about being invited.

I told Tara it was graduation weekend and I had plans to go somewhere Friday evening to cover one of our small schools.

What happened next I found to be unusual. Tara texted me back and asked if I could call her immediately. It was urgent, she said.

“So, we were hoping to surprise you, but,” she said, and then explained that the other club members had unanimously voted to give me the 2020-2021 Ken Kiser Award for Good Sportsmanship for dedication and commitment to athletics at Cooperstown Central School.

I spent the next couple of days stunned, debating with myself if I could miss a graduation night, and discussing with my family if they wanted to go to a long banquet on a Friday night, while trying to cobble a speech together in my head. I guess if you are at the stage where you are cobbling together a speech in your head, the decision is obvious. And when even the teen agreed to go, I knew it was settled.

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