Genesee Advanced Studies Program Brings Out the Best in Area's Students

This year's Outstanding Scholar Awards ceremony of the Advanced Studies program at Genesee Community College on Tuesday, May 23, proved to be another in a series of parallel events in the lives of best friends Amanda Barnhart of Attica and Jessica Phillips of Pavilion.

Advanced Studies program leaders honored Barnhart, Phillips and 27 other 12th graders with plaques for their achievements while taking college level courses during their junior and senior years. About 150 people attended Tuesday night's ceremony.

Barnhart and Phillips became close while attending classes at Wyoming Central. They graduated from the eighth grade at Wyoming as the top two students in the class. From there, Barnhart elected to go to Attica High while Phillips moved on to Pavilion High.

"We kept in touch and stayed best of friends," Barnhart said. "Now we're both valedictorians of our class and we both will be going to Elmira College."

The story gets even better. Both Barnhart (pre-law) and Phillips (biology) are recipients of Elmira College's valedictorian scholarship - full tuition for all four years.

"At first, we really didn't plan on going to college together," Barnhart said. "I looked at Elmira and said, 'Jessica, you have got to look at Elmira.'"

Barnhart amassed 56 college credit hours by taking Advanced Studies and Advanced Placement courses at Attica, which offers 11 different college courses taught by 11 different teachers.

"This (Advanced Studies) shows the type of students we have at Attica and how well they are performing," said Gerald Hale, acting principal at Attica, who was at the awards ceremony. "The program goes above and beyond. It's total enrichment."

Both Barnhart and Phillips received their awards in the subject of mathematics.Batavia High's Allison Finnell excelled in the foreign language category while earning about 15 college credit hours through Advanced Studies. She will be a scholarship student at Boston University, where she plans to major in marine biology and minor in Spanish.

"I've taken Spanish courses, AP physics, English and history (through the Genesee Advanced Studies program)," she said. "It's a great program."Her father, Kevin, said that Advanced Studies "is a wonderful thing for the kids. It exposes them to college level courses and, for the schools that accept the credits, it's a tremendous (cost) savings."

Cindy Kosek of Attica agreed. "We're waiting to find out how many of my daughter's courses will transfer," she said, speaking of Evelyn, who earned 30 college credit hours and hopes to be entering Brockport State College as a sophomore. Evelyn was a finalist in the social science category.

The Advanced Studies program allows high school students the opportunity to earn college credit from Genesee while attending class within their high school. High school teachers approved as Genesee adjunct faculty teach all Advanced Studies courses.More than 100 students from 10 Western New York counties achieved semifinalist status. From that group, a committee of academic professionals from Genesee Community College selected finalists in five subjects, representing several counties.

Kathy Lopes, associate dean, ACE Programs, with assistance from Advanced Studies specialists Terry Reding and Ed Levinstein, presented the awards.

The finalists, by subject, are as follows:

English - Elizabeth Archer, Albion; Marc Cohen, Notre Dame; Rebecca Litteer, Lima Christian; Carli Novak, Attica; Theresa Tidd, Wayland-Cohocton.

Foreign language - Kayla Campbell, Letchworth; Allison Finnell, Batavia; Tibreya Grace, Albion; Erin Mahaney, Alden; Sean McManus, Livonia; Randy Mehlenbacher, Wayland-Cohocton.

Mathematics - Amanda Barnhart, Attica; Chelsie Cliff, Kendall; Eric Huber, Livonia; Brian Morrish, Alden; Jessica Phillips, Pavilion.

Science - Lindsey Buzard, Perry; Shannon Conway, Alden; Caitlin Ladd, Le Roy; Stephen Roll, Caledonia-Mumford; Jason Snell, Medina.

Social Science - Justin Gould, Newfane; Jacqueline Klotzbach, Notre Dame; Evelyn Kosek, Attica; Stephanie Kwiatkowski, Albion; Adriana Medina, Alden; Randy Mehlenbacher, Wayland-Cohocton; Margaret Williams, Lima Christian.For more information about the Advanced Studies program at Genesee Community College, call 585-345-6801.

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Editor's Note: A photograph of the Outstanding Scholar Awards recipients is available at the following Internet address:

STAR STUDENTS: Genesee Community College's Advanced Studies program honored 29 area students with Outstanding Scholar Awards Tuesday night at the campus' Stuart Steiner Theatre. In attendance to accept their awards were, front from left, Elizabeth Archer of Albion, Allison Finnell of Batavia, Stephanie Kwiatkowski of Albion, Adriana Medina of Alden and Chelsie Cliff of Kendall; back, Lindsey Buzard of Perry, Evelyn Kosek of Attica, Amanda Barnhart of Attica, Jessica Phillips of Pavilion, Justin Gould of Newfane and Shannon Conway of Alden. Photo by Mike Pettinella.