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By: Tony Farina
There’s a new mayor at City Hall in Niagara Falls and as a result, there’s also a new president of the city Board of Education.
Newly-elected Mayor Robert Restaino had to leave his position as president of the school board when he took over as mayor on Jan. 1, and the new board president is the former vice president, Vincent James Cancemi.
Cancemi, a retired special education teacher who runs a small furniture business on 6th Street, is in the last year of his third five-year term as an unpaid school board member and plans to serve until his term runs out in June and perhaps longer.
“We’re doing a lot and I’m excited about continuing our work,” said Cancemi, who is proud of the work the school board is doing to help prepare the more than 7,000 students in the district for the next chapter of their lives. He shows no sign of slowing down and plans to continue to push the programs that have been put in place to help students get ready for the future.
Cancemi is a member Niagara County Community College Foundation and is a board member of Niagara Orleans BOCES where he has excelled in bringing people together to serve the district as never before.
“I have college professionals from NCCC giving our high school students college credits at no cost,” says Cancemi. “We have contracted with NCCC to use English and math teachers and our kids can take those courses in 11th grade and be admitted to NCCC or Niagara University wthout taking any more exams. And if they don’t get it done in 11th grade, they can do it in 12th grade. This is just great for the kids.”
Cancemi said that previously a lot of students would have had to take remedial or non-credit courses after graduation before advancing to college, in effect losing a year.
“We also have our juniors and seniors from Niagara Falls High School taking culinary courses in pie-making and cake-making at the NCCC Culinary Institute, leading to a certificate of accomplishment that helps them get a job in the baking field,” said Cancemi who sounds as enthusiastic as a football coach.
“We just have so much going on, and I’m so excited to be a part of it,” says Cancemi, who also talks glowingly about the graduates from local programs offered in the construction field that prepare them for jobs in the construction industry right out of school.
It sounds like Cancemi wants residents to know that the board of education is making great strides in helping to prepare students for the future, whether it means going to college or beginning work in the private sector as a skilled professional.
“I guess I just want to keep going and help our students get all they can to prepare them for their future lives,” says Cancemi. “That’s really why I want to stick around and keep things moving in the right direction. I think we have some great momentum right now and there’s no reason to walk away.”
In addition to Cancemi taking over as president, Ronald Barstys takes over as vice president and Clara Dunn, who worked in development at city hall, will fill the remaining months of Restaino’s term.