Answers to Amsterdam, NY “School Principals” Trivia Quiz

Answer to Question No. 1: Arlene Maranville’s name has a place in the history of Amsterdam, NY. She was the last principal of Bishop Scully High School when it was closed by order of Albany Diocese Bishop Howard Hubbard in June of 1990. Though Maranville had lived in Schenectady County since she was a teenager, she was actually a native of Amsterdam and a pretty well-known one at that. During her teenage years she was a talented dancer, who made several appearances on the Teenage Barn television talent show, which was immensely popular locally in the Capital District during the 1950’s. Maranville had been dancing since she was just a child. Her father, Amsterdam native Eddie Paciunis had been killed in action during WWII when she and her younger sister Joan were just toddlers.  In July of 1953, Arlene’s mom married Earl Bell, a native of Amsterdam’s South Side and moved with the girls to Glenville. Before being appointed principal at Bishop Scully, Arlene had been a Latin Teacher for nine years at Amsterdam High School. After Scully closed, she became principal at Bethlehem High School. Her sister also became a teacher.

Answer to Question No. 2: When the decision was made, it was perhaps the most coveted elementary school assignment in the history of the Amsterdam School District. That’s why few were surprised when Superintendent of Schools, Raphael J. McNulty announced in April of 1964 that the Principal of the brand new elementary school named in his honor would be Rachel DiGennaro. The Amsterdam native was at the time a shining light in the public schools of this city. She graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1930. She got her original teaching degree from Oneonta State Teachers College and then went to Syracuse University where she earned both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Education along with certification as as elementary principal. She then returned to Amsterdam and started teaching third grade at Arnold Avenue School. To this day, if you run into one of her former classroom students from that institution and ask them if they remember her, be prepared to hear the phrase “the best teacher I ever had” in their response. She started her administrative career filling in as “acting principal” of Woodrow Wilson Elementary. It wasn’t long after that the school board approved her appointment as principal at Arnold Ave. Simply put, everyone loved the way this elegant lady ran a school including the students, their parents and her staff. Miss DiGennaro had the sort of positive attitude and enthusiasm for education that was infectious. She treated everyone with respect but also with a polite and professional firmness that left no doubt who was in charge. Her leadership skills got her elected president of both the Amsterdam Teachers Association and the Amsterdam Business & Professional Women’s Club. When the students there learned she was retiring as principal of McNulty School in 1969, many actually went home crying…for their principal! She lived a long life passing away at the age of 98 in 2011.

Answer to Question No. 3: His name was Ron Wyzomirski and after serving as GASD summer school principal and assistant principal at Theodore Roosevelt Junior High he moved into central administration and became the district’s Director of Curriculum.

Answer to Question No. 4: Fritz Heil was brought to Amsterdam to run the new junior high school and he did such a good job that he remained in that post for 34 years. Previously he had been an industrial arts teacher who got his first principal assignments in Scotia and Little Falls. After retiring in 1960, he remained in Amsterdam until he passed away 12 years later. In the photo above, Heil is shown accepting a transistor radio as a retirement gift from JHS teacher Dick Betz, while Denyse Tolbert, another JHS teacher looks on.

Answer to Question No. 5: Heil’s successor as principal of Theodore Roosevelt Junior High was John McKnight who had started with the Amsterdam School District as an elementary school teacher in 1937 and then became an elementary school principal. McKnight was serving as the top dog at Arnold Avenue School when he was tabbed to replace Heil and he remained in the Junior High post until he retired in 1972.

Answer to Question No. 6: It was Bishop Edward Maginn who appointed Father Joseph Oathout to serve as the very first principal of the new Bishop Scully High School when it opened in September of 1966. A Troy, NY native, Oathout  had been a vice principal at Catholic Central High in his hometown before being transferred to Bishop Burke in Gloversville, where he was working as a guidance counselor when Maginn appointed him to the Scully post.

Answer to Question No. 7: James Capece was a native of St. Johnsville, NY, who got his first principal’s position in Amsterdam in sort of a controversial manner. In 1961, John Riccio was being transferred from his dual post as the head of both Guy Park and West Spring Elementary schools to become principal of Academy Street School. Then Amsterdam Superintendent, Stanley Raub had recommended Marion Geiger to the Board to take over the two-school post. At the time, Geiger had been serving as the acting principal at Academy. But the Board voted down the motion to hire Geiger and instead went with Raub’s second pick, Capece, who had been serving as the principal of Buchanan Elementary School in the village of Hagaman. That put this SUNY Oneonta graduate in position to get the Bacon School head post when that school opened and Guy Park was closed in 1966. Two years later, Capece was switched over to McCleary School by Superintendent Reigh Carpenter so that he could play an active role in the building and planning for the new Tecler Elementary School, which was going to be designed in the open-classroom style, just like Bacon had been. He took over as Tecler’s first principal two years later.

Answer to Question No. 8: Johnny Miller was appointed principal of the Tecler Elementary School by GASD Superintendent Vicky Ramos just before Christmas break in 2016. This Amsterdam native was an outstanding varsity baseball player during his high school days for Amsterdam, a power-hitting outfielder who went on to play some college ball as well.

Answer to Question No. 9: The name of McNulty Academy’s current principal is Todd Giagni. Since taking the helm at McNulty the school has been featured several times in local media for creative learning approaches and activities.

Answer to Question No. 10: The correct choice is C. Charley Loomis was the head guy at several GASD elementary schools during his long career but was never the principal at Lynch Middle School. Claude Palczak (pictured above) was the second principal of the Lynch Middle School, replacing Art Cotugno. Mr. Palczak along with Bert DeRose were the first and last associate principals of Lynch when it was still a high school. Elizabeth Hanan is the current principal of the school and Richie Capel sat in the principal’s chair there a decade ago before assuming the top spot at Barkley Elementary.

Answer to Question No. 11: The first principal of Wilbur Lynch High School was James Kelton, who was boss at the school during its first 33 years of existence. When Kelton retired in 1952, Robert Turner took over the helm and remained in the principal’s office until his retirement in 1969, when he was replaced by New Jersey native Peter Lawrence. Lawrence held the job for just three years when he was replaced by two men, the first and only associate principal’s in the school’s history, Bert DeRose and Claude Palczak. The two men continued to share the position until Lynch was converted to a Middle School in 1976 and they continued as co-principals at the new high school. So technically, Kelton, Turner and Lawrence were the only three “principals” in the history of Wilbur H. Lynch High School because DeRose and Palczak were “associate principals”. That’s Kelton pictured on the left above, Turner in the middle and DeRose on the right. I included Palczak’s photo with the answer to Question No. 10 and you’ll get to guess what Lawrence looked like in Question No. 16.

Answer to Question No. 12: Her name was Sister Patricia Tierney. She had served as Father Joseph Anselment’s assistant principal for two years at Bishop Scully, when Bishop Edwin Broderick put her in charge of the school in 1973 so that Anselment could focus on fundraising to help the school battle its mounting financial difficulties. Tierney was an alumnus of Notre Dame, who had taught math at several Catholic schools including Scully before becoming a building administrator..

Answer to Question No. 13: The correct answer is C. Ruth Hoos was never principal of Guy Park Avenue Elementary School. She did teach fifth grade there for many years and she also had a sister named Mildred, who was a GASD principal at the time but Ruth never became an administrator herself.

Answer to Question No. 14:  His name was William H.Barkley and he became a local legend as the long-time principal of Fifth Ward Elementary School. His son was also an elementary school principal in Amsterdam for many years and he was on hand to speak at the grand opening of the south side elementary school named after his father.

Answer to Question No. 15: The correct answer is B. Father Joseph Beck was pastor of St. Michael’s Church, one of only two Roman Catholic parishes in Amsterdam that never had a school associated with it. All the other clergy mentioned pastored parishes with schools at one time and all were required to serve as principals of those affiliated institutions on either a permanent or temporary basis. Father DiCerbo had Mt. Carmel School; Father Schwartz – St. Joseph’s (see photo above); Father Baltch -St. Casmir’s; Monsignor Glavin – St. Mary’s; and Father Czechowicz – St. Stan’s.

Answer to Question No. 16: The correct answer is C. The Amsterdam High School principalship has been pretty volatile since Dave Ziskin left the post a few years back to become Superintendent of the Ft. Plain Central School District. It seems ages ago when AHS principals like Gavin Murdoch and Bert DeRose settled in for long tenures in that position. Fortunately, AHS assistant principal Christine Pietro (pictured above) has provided administrative stability for the school in the interim. She’s spent thirty years of her life helping AHS students find their way in life as both a guidance counselor and an assistant principal. 

Answer to Question No. 17: Photo no. 1 is Father Joseph Anselment, the second principal of Bishop Scully. Photo no. 2 is Peter Lawrence, who headed AHS from 1969 until 1972. Photo no. 3 is Ed Cotter, who started with the district as a teacher in 1935 and served as an elementary school principal at Fifth Ward, McCleary and finally Buchanan. Photo no. 4 is Sister Mary Bernice Pikul, who during her 60 year career as an educator was principal of Amsterdam’s St. Stanislaus School in the early 1970’s. Photo no. 5 is Charles Loomis, a longtime elementary school principal who served a handful of Amsterdam’s public grade schools. Photo no. 6 is Dr. Michele Downing, an Amsterdam native who has graciously agreed to fill in as AHS interim principal while also serving as a GASD assistant superintendent. Photo no. 7 is Leon Wyzykowski, who ended a long career with the GASD as principle of Marie Curie Eastside Elementary. Photo no. 8 is Dave Ziskin, the former AHS principal who is now a school superintendent in Ft. Plain, NY. Photo no. 9 is Tom Perillo, who before he became GASD Superintendent was a very able principal at both McNulty and Lynch Middle School. Photo no. 10 is Donna Decker, the much admired current principal at Barkley.

 

Answer to Question No. 18: Her name is Nicole Ramsdill Luft and she became the principal of St. Mary’s Institute (SMI) just this year. She taught at St.Ambrose School in Latham for 14 years before becoming an assistant principal at St Pius School in Latham in 2016.

Answer to Question No. 19: Former GASD Spanish teacher, Art Cotugno replaced John McKnight as principal of Theodore Roosevelt Jr. High in 1972. When that school was closed four years later, he became the first principal of the Wilbur Lynch Middle School. From there he went on to become Director of Personnel for the District in the mid 1980’s and then District Superintendent. Cotugno was one of the most loved and respected building and district administrators in the history of the GASD.

Answer to Question No. 20: The correct answer is E. Of the six veteran GASD administrators listed as possible answers, only Dan Greco (pictured above) never served as a building principal. He was a great high school math teacher who then moved straight into central administration, eventually taking over as District Superintendent in the mid 1970’s. Dr. Bush, Giovanni, Novak, Petersen and Picinich all held principal posts in Amsterdam at one time or another and only Petersen never served as a teacher in an Amsterdam public school.

I hope you enjoyed this Amsterdam Trivia Quiz. If you’re not already on my e-mail distribution list for these trivia quizzes you can join here, for free. I keep all e-mail addresses confidential and will never rent or permit anyone else to use them.

 

 

 

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