DANSVILLE — Everyone on the Dansville Wall of Pride has something in common — creating a better community for future generations.
On Oct. 20 the community came together to honor five more members whose names and faces will be on the school walls for all time.
Dansville Central’s Wall of Pride is more than just photos on the wall, but a place where students can feel inspired to grow.
Dansville Central Superintendent Paul Alioto talked about the importance of the Dansville Foundation for Education, and the future it holds for students now that the recent votes have passed.
“We have raised the bar on academic and extracurricular expectations," he said. "The foundation is now a good source of support for the good work that goes on in Dansville Central schools. The foundation sponsors Girls Empowered Through Technology, and Students Empowered Through Technology. We sponsor the robotics club, the environmental club, the gardening club, and we are sending students to the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit in November.
“The foundation also directs funds to early childhood development. Rinker’s Readers and Young Authors are clubs for primary school children,” Alioto continued. “We have good people who want to do great things, and they all have great ideas. You see these little kids writing, and they are loving it. It is special to turn teachers lose and let them be creative.”
There are now self defense classes for young women, and a civics group is now being sponsored at the high school.
“We are proud to sponsor a group where kids can get together and talk about it all. They do so respectfully and intelligently,” Alioto said. “ The foundation is even helping to sponsor training for new therapy dogs in Dansville. More importantly the foundation brings to light the role models and the heroes in our midst.”
Alioto said that students need to see the greatness and potential that exists in Dansville.
“We don’t just hang plaques on a wall. Teachers bring students down to visit those plaques, read them, and research the individuals that are on them,” he said. “They see that what is born in Dansville is also possible for them. There is greatness in Dansville. We need to revisit that greatness as much as possible.”
Alioto mentioned the recent passing of former educator Al Hawk, and the legacy he left behind at the school. Hawk taught the students how to go out into the world and become leaders.
Susan DeMuth has done so much to breath new life into historic downtown Dansville. She was honored by Dorothy Hotchkiss for all she has done to make the community grow.
“She has invested in the community time and time again,” Hotchkiss said. “They invested in Main Street with Dansville Stationers and Dogwood Trading Company. These stores bring more people to the area. Sue has volunteered in the community, and taken over for her mother in encouraging other businesses to grow. We are here to realize what a gift we have in Sue, and all she does for the community.”
DeMuth accepted her role on the Wall of Pride with a humble smile, and began to thank all those who have helped her along the way.
Dr. Joan Flender came in to Dansville in 1980 as the first female Pediatrician in Dansville Tri-County Medicine. She has volunteered for special needs children at the Genesee Valley Rotary Camp for 35 years.
“I didn’t do this alone,” she said. “I hope that the young folks will continue in local health care.”
Dr. William Packard spoke fondly of his education in Dansville, and how he always longed to come back home.
“I always wanted my children to go to a public school. The public schools reflect real life, and Dansville has always been a great place for education,” he said. “We can’t force students to learn, but need to give them the tools they need for success. Students are candles to be lit, and not bushels to be filled.”
Packard said he is worried about the medical education college students are getting now that don’t show them how to embrace humanity.
“I took a tour of the hospital a few weeks ago, and I am amazed that a community this size has such a well equipped hospital,” he said. “You have a PET Scan, which is an incredible piece of technology, and a cancer center in a community this size. Your CEO Amy Pollard is a wise and inspirational woman. You have worked hard to bring a hospital like this to the community, and we need younger doctors to keep this outstanding hospital growing.”
David Gilbert, Dansville Area Historical Society member, talked about the importance of Lynn Pickard, and the magic he brought to Dansville with the aviation phase.
Jon Van Derhoof was honored to accept the plaque in his godfather’s honor.
“I was a very lucky kid, because I had two sets of parents. I spent half of my childhood with my parents, and the other half with Lynn Pickard,” he said. “In the summer of 1938 Lynn told my parents they had enough children, and I could be his son. My first word was airplane. Lynn was determined to make his godson a super pilot.”
Van Derhoof continued, “Lynn was an outstanding flight instructor. The Dansville Airport kept expanding in a good way in those days. We even expanded the runways so B-17 Bombers could take off and land at the airport. Boys and girls were always encouraged to take a ride for free, but the parents always had to pay.”
Pickard had a seven-year-old Van Derhoof learning how to fly and land a plane, and for 64 years that is something that continues to bring him joy.
E. Philip Saunders was honored by John Adamski for his generosity to the community he calls home.
“It is true I didn’t grow up here. I adopted this place as my home. We have been here 50 years, and we still aren’t considered natives yet,” Saunders said. “I have been very fortunate with my business I started. I toured the whole country, and saw where people wanted a truck stop. I found land available up the road in Dansville for a truck stop, and it has been very successful. It will be 40 years old next year. Our community is so lucky to have the interstate that gets people to work in Rochester.”
Saunders wants to bring the industrial businesses back to Dansville.
“We need a good industrial business to help support Main Street and our schools,” he said. “We are lucky to have a good school and hospital. Now we need solid industrial business again.”