Groton's class of 2020 celebrated with sirens, signs

Groton seniors Kaleb Goodwin (left) and Holly Dunham  (right) were visited by fire trucks, police escorts and a parade of cars as part of a celebration of the class of 2020.
Groton seniors Kaleb Goodwin (left) and Holly Dunham (right) were visited by fire trucks, police escorts and a parade of cars as part of a celebration of the class of 2020.
Photos by Linda Competillo

It is certainly known by now that our New York state schools have officially closed all buildings for the remainder of this academic year. Despite the frustrations and obstacles that has created, the fact remains that students must still receive their education.

For students in Groton Central School District, most have been resilient and manage to do their work, though technology and internet access is not easily obtained for some. Rural schools like ours face challenges in that area.

Aside from whatever ways GCS students are receiving and delivering their classwork, the overarching message the district has received is that the students miss their teachers and friends. Many are sad, especially the high school seniors, who are also feeling the loss of that “one last year” of memories.

On the proverbial “other side of the coin,” GCS teachers are working harder than ever to adapt to their own “not normal new normal” are committed to delivering the very best education possible under the circumstances and miss their students equally as much as they are missed by them.

The faculty, staff and administrators have become masters in creativity these past few months, not only in the realm of education, but also in the ideas they have to reach out and connect with students.

One such recent connection on Friday, May 8, involved dual parades of cars filled with teachers, staff, administrators and members of the Board of Education, each led by Groton Fire Department trucks and Groton Police Department patrol cars, with sirens blaring, that visited the homes of every senior in the Class of 2020 to place personalized signs in their lawns and wish them congratulations on their pending graduation.

GCS Superintendent Margo Martin thanks the Groton Boosters and the Groton Parent Teacher Organization for providing funds for the lawn signs, as well as staff members Colleen Armstrong, Kelly Bishop and Tracy Cooper, and GHS Associate Principal Jake Roe for organizing the whole event.

I was privileged to ride with Martin in one of the fire trucks, visiting half of the 53-student senior class, so I was able to witness first-hand how much it all meant to them. The physical evidence of emotions ranged from tears to smiles on the faces of students and their families at every stop.

While the making of many of the usual memories for the Class of 2020 have been missed, this was hopefully one that was unique and special enough to help fill those voids.

CTE teacher adapts to online learning

As evidenced in last week’s “Groton on the Inside,” there are Groton High School students who spend half their school days in career and technical education courses on the TST BOCES campus, or at least they did until this past March, when that took a drastic turn for everyone.

GHS juniors Jordan Burlingame, Taylor Moffitt and Madison Parker and seniors Julia Belansoff, Emmalee Garrow and Alexis Hatfield all happen to be enrolled in Cosmetology, which is taught by Groton resident Andrea Perkins.

Perkins has been the “Cos” teacher at TST since 1999, so under normal circumstances, she is well-versed in how to ensure that her students receive the education they need, but when suddenly faced with a closed school building, Perkins has adapted her methods, as has every teacher across the nation.

For as long as she can remember, Perkins “always wanted to be a hairdresser” because she had an aunt who was.

“I just always wanted to do it, it was my passion,” Perkins said.

After graduating from Moravia High School in 1981, Perkins attended Triple Cities Beauty School in Binghamton and eventually went on to earn her bachelor of science in teaching from SUNY Oswego.

Beauty school lasted for a year, after which Perkins worked in salons in Cortland, owned her own salon for a while and then worked in Groton at Kevin’s Silver Scissors while working as a waitress at The Groton Hotel, where she met her husband, Mike, who also worked there.

Mike and Andrea were married in August 1986, and amidst raising their children and still working by day, Andrea began her seven-year journey to obtain her teaching degree.

Though her degree was earned from SUNY Oswego, it was all done via satellite classes she attended at night at Cortland State, Tompkins Cortland Community College and the Syracuse State Office Building.

It was a long journey that resulted in her first position teaching cosmetology at the Broome-Tioga BOCES until her current position at TST began in 1999.

“In my 29 years of teaching, I have never had to teach like this,” Andrea said of the current circumstances.

She explained how much extra time it now takes her to track student progress, adjust her curriculum and acclimate to using technology for things she normally would not use it for but feels the silver lining is that she has “grown so much technologically.”

Through her online meetings with 192 cosmetology teachers across the state, Andrea was able to procure digital textbooks for free from Cengage Publishing for all 43 of her students that would normally cost $279 each.

Andrea said she is teaching theory as much as possible through the textbooks, utilizes YouTube for digital videos and holds individual Zoom classes twice a week with each student as they work with mannequins. She then ensures they document “before and after” photos of their work.

Each student is required to clock 1,000 hours of work to sit for their licensing exam, and Andrea is relieved that the New York State Department of Education is allowing these methods to be used toward the required hours.

Andrea said she texts her students daily to “make sure they’re doing OK, have food and are doing well in general. I am doing my best with every little piece of my heart.”

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Village elections and meetings

The village of Groton will be holding its meetings of various boards and committees on an as-needed basis only via web conferencing until further notice. Notifications and updates of meetings may be found at
The next Village Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Monday, May 18. The above website may be checked after Wednesday, May 13 for details on the time and access to the meeting.

The new date for village elections is Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Town of Groton info

The Groton town clerk, April Scheffler, is in the office part time and is checking phone messages, emails, the drop box, faxes and mail. Phone (607) 898-5035, Fax (607) 898-3086, email:, mailing address: PO Box 36, Groton, NY 13073.

Expirations for March and April dog licenses have been extended until May 31. Submissions for renewal may be mailed or put in the drop box. They can also be renewed via credit or debit card over the phone with an additional $1.75 service fee. New licenses can be submitted by mailing the application found by clicking on the link on

Groton Olde Home Days

At this time, Groton Olde Home Days has not been postponed or canceled. Organizers Christine Personius and Flo Allen remain optimistic that Groton will have an awesome community festival Aug. 27 through 29.

Information will be posted as decisions are made and updates become available at


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