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Orleans-Niagara Teacher Center Celebrates Literacy Excellence

On May 4, 2023, over 250 students, families and teachers gathered at the North Tonawanda Fine Arts Center to celebrate literacy excellence! The Orleans-Niagara Teacher Center, a NYS grant funded program specializing in high quality professional learning, sponsors a literacy contest for students in grades K-8 every year. This year the theme was “Try, Try Again: How Effort, Energy and Creativity are the Keys to Success.” Hundreds of children wrote stories about how they, someone they know, or someone they read about has overcome challenges to become successful. Students wrote about themselves, family members, teachers, famous people and fictional characters. In all, 26 teachers from 8 districts across Niagara and Orleans counties participated in the program and submitted the best student entries from their classes. The Teacher Center received 92 outstanding entries in total! Students were encouraged to be creative and submit entries in the format of their choice, including written essays, automated slideshows, videos with written narration, electronic books, digital comic strips and others. All entries received exhibited exceptional writing and creativity skills! The awards ceremony kicked off with a keynote from a local young author, Lily Fisher, who began publishing at the early age of 12 with her first book “Windvitation.” Lily shared her story of how she overcame challenges and uncertainties to achieve her dreams of becoming an author. Following Lily’s keynote, students were called up on stage to read their entries and receive certificates and prizes, including writing journals and design books. They were beyond excited and extremely brave as they read to the large audience. It was an amazing night full of smiles and joy and many proud parents!

The Director of the Teacher Center, Cheryl Herman, and the Teacher Center Policy Board would like to thank all those that participated in this year’s event! A special shout out to the O/N BOCES culinary students for providing the delicious treats, Lily for her keynote, DJ Ernie for providing music free of charge, all the parents and teachers for encouraging reading and writing, and to the Teacher Center Policy Board for all their support and assistance with this program and many others.


Top winners for each grade level are as follows:

K: Carmella DiGuiseppe (Holy Ghost Lutheran), Gemma Gariano (Holy Ghost) and Adeline Wahl (Barker); 1: Kaylee Achtyl (Newfane) and Madison Pennell (Holy Ghost); 2: Audriella Hill (NT) and Annabelle Page (Barker); 3: Grace Bowker-Pasiak (NT) and Morgan Pierce (Lew-Port); 4: Jonah Britton (Holy Ghost), Alisha Cheema (Lew-Port) and Jemma Heidelberger (Holy Ghost),; 5: Rylie Pendergast (NT); 6: Morrison Brown (NT), Evan Kinney (NT) and Eian Phillips (Barker).

For a complete list of all winners and more information about the programs the Teacher Center offers, please visit the Orleans-Niagara Teacher Center website at

Student reading at podiumGroup of students on stageGirl reading on stageGroup of students on stage