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03/07/06

Fairport High celebrates times three

Basketball exploits, Hoffman and principal's award lift spirits

Fernando Diaz
Staff writer

(March 7, 2006) FAIRPORT Fairport High School was proof Monday that good things come in threes.

Within days, David Paddock was named the state's principal of the year, the boys varsity basketball team clinched the Section V title and their own "Golden Boy" took home his, and their, first Oscar.

Some students and staff are thrilled about the recent events and believe it's a sign of better things to come, especially Paddock, who attributes the recognition he got to the teenagers he looks after and the staff that supports him.

"It's been a good week," Paddock said proudly on Monday.

The fun actually started Thursday, when Paddock was named the "High School Principal of the Year" by the School Administrators Association of New York State. On Friday, the school spent the day celebrating its Oscar-nominated alumnus, Philip Seymour Hoffman, ahead of Sunday's Academy Awards, at which Hoffman won best actor honors.

Then Saturday, the boys varsity basketball team clinched its first Section V title in 31 years. Sunday's win by Hoffman was "the icing on the cake," said Paddock.

The spate of good news was welcome to the high school after one of the most difficult periods in recent history, said Paddock. The community seemed at odds over a recent capital project and it became clear that the typically close-knit area was splintering.

"We needed this," said Paddock, "As we heal, I feel some good news was needed."

Paddock's award is an acknowledgment for demonstrating the kind of leadership that brings about the strengths of a school, said Michelle Hebert, a spokeswoman for the School Administrators Association of New York State.

Three large corkboards in Paddock's office are full of pictures he has collected over the years of students who have come and gone. Mementos of previous classes also are among the posters and newspaper clippings. His door "is always open," said senior Katie LaShomb, 18, the senior class vice president.

"He knows everybody, their parents, achievements," LaShomb said, who jokingly calls him "old man."

Paddock has been hit in the face with pies, wrestled against students twice, suffered hair clippers in the hands of amateurs and stood on the roof of the school, all in the name of creating a motivating learning environment. He regularly has breakfast with students and has made a point of giving out business cards with his cell phone number to seniors.

"He's like a big kid," said LaShomb of Paddock. "He really loves his job, you can tell." Paddock, in his 11th year as principal, was nominated by a former student for his award and now is in the running for recognition at the national level.

Hoffman's accomplishment hopefully will draw more attention to the theater program, said Keri Griffith, advanced theater teacher and improv troupe adviser.

"It shines a light on the program," said Griffith, "We have so many talented kids; who knows if I'm teaching the next Philip Seymour Hoffman."

Senior Kirk Stevens, 18, suggested the school change the vague reference to numerous awards under Hoffman's plaque on the Wall of Fame to "Academy Award Winner."

"There's definitely a buzz. I'm excited to hear what he's going to do in the future," said Stevens, who studies drama.

The basketball team's success can be attributed to its players, said coach Scott Fitch, adding that they're great kids both on and off the court.

"There's a lot to be excited about," said Jim Zumbo, Fairport's director of physical education, health and athletics.

Asked about the basketball team's hopes for the rest of the playoffs, he said, "I think we have the talent, capability and momentum to go all the way."

Other Raiders have shown the team it's possible.

FDIAZ@DemocratandChronicle.com 

 

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