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WSWHE BOCES Dedicates New Educational Site
Thursday, October 11, 2018
James Dexter, with James M. Kaplan’s brother John Kaplan and friend Tom Barber, and John Rieger at the ceremony.
The Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES is honored to have received a generous gift of property, on Walsh Road in the Town of Saratoga. On October 10, family, friends, neighbors, students, staff, and area superintendents gathered to dedicate and name property, the James M. Kaplan Educational Site. Mr. Kaplan was a talented craftsman and outdoorsman. He enjoyed subbing at the F. Donald Myers Education Center and sharing his knowledge and skills with the students in various Career and Technical Education programs. The donation of over 40 acres, buildings, equipment and tools, will enrich the educational opportunities of nearly 40,000 students in the region and will be a launching pad for innovative uses and experiences.
Plans to utilize the property include: the Environmental Conservation & Forestry program will promote forest ecology and protection; the Horticulture, Landscaping & Floral Design program will have the opportunity to expand their curriculum beyond their current greenhouse and use the property as a land lab for landscape design and installation; and the Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance program will use it as training grounds.
The WSWHE BOCES also offers enrichment programs in Project Adventure (to develop pro-social behaviors and collaboration), STEM, orienteering, and environmental sustainability. Students who participate in these programs will use the property for hands-on experiences that they might not have otherwise.
WSWHE BOCES District Superintendent of Schools, James Dexter, said he wanted to have a ceremony to acknowledge the generous gift.
“Each and every time we come to this property we think of Mr. Kaplan’s dedication to our students and the trade workers of the tomorrow. This property is a beacon of promise for our students and this organization.”
Dexter said that while the property will be a clinical setting of sorts for a number of CTE programs, he also sees it a the perfect setting for area school children to expand their classroom experience.
“Perhaps a grade four field trip to learn about pond ecology, a snowshoeing trip for a club, or maybe one of our districts would like to have an FFA or agricultural program here,” said Dexter.
WSWHE BOCES Board of Education Present John Rieger, told guests that the Board of Education was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Kaplan family. He sees the site as a launching pad for ideas.
“We as a board and as an institution, ask each and everyone of you to give some thought as to what other ways we can to utilize this property. With nearly 40,000 students in our BOCES, the creative minds, the youngsters that are willing ready and able to embark on new courses, new fields of study, the possibilities are endless.”
Environmental Conservation & Forestry Instructor Dennis Flynn, (in photo) explained that his students are doing a stewardship management plan. It is like an owner’s manual, setting goals for the property, as far as recreation, wildlife, so that it can be used through the years.
Zack Golden, a Junior at Stillwater Central School District said the site is a great educational tool.
“What is nice about it, is that we’re the first group of students out here. Trees have never been cut before, so it will really help enhance our skills, our learning and help set up the program for the future,” he added.
Golden said the students have been working on different stands, learning tree identification, practicing pacing, and identifying what trees to take down to improve the ecosystem. They would like to bring more wildlife back to the lot. They can do that by thinning trees. They also hope to plant a sugar bush and eventually make maple syrup.
Area superintendents who attended the ceremony said they are excited about the possibilities for their students.