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Niagara Honor Roll / Achievers and achievements

Michael McGrath of Newfane has been elected to the senior leadership team of the Coast Guard Auxiliary's Ninth District Eastern Region (which stretches from Toledo, Ohio, east to the St. Lawrence Seaway).

He was installed Sept. 15 during a Change of Watch ceremony at the District Fall Conference in Syracuse. Rear Admiral Michael N. Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, presided.

McGrath is beginning his second term as a district captain. A member of the Auxiliary since 2002, McGrath has served as Division 3 training officer as well as elected positions of flotilla commander, division vice commander and division commander. He also served for six years on the District level as members' training officer, coordinating bi-annually the Eastern Region District Conference training and also assisting in the District 9 combined symposium that was first held in Pontiac, Michigan in 2008

Originally from Detroit, McGrath served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1970, and in 1968 he was transferred from duty in Vietnam to Lockport, on a radar site detached out of Niagara Falls Air Force Base. This is where he met his wife Elaine Jack, from Lewiston, and then married in 1969. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren. He is retired from Delphi/Harrison Radiator in Lockport, and he resides in Newfane.

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Air Force Airman Nicholas J. Defilippo graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Defilippo is a 2008 graduate of Lockport High School.

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Stephanie Bevacqua was recently chosen? as the New York Association for Continuing/Community Education's Teacher of the Year.

Bevacqua started her career three and a half years ago at Orleans/Niagara BOCES as a GED teacher in the Adult Education Program. Recognizing her enthusiasm for her job and her students she was asked if she would consider restructuring BOCES' Job Readiness Training Program. Students were complaining that the class was unhelpful, tedious and boring and the only thing that kept them there seven hours a day, five days a week, was that it was required by the Department of Social Services.

In just a few years she completely turned around the program and her class is now packed with lessons on computer skills, business math, professional dress and attitude, interviewing skills, resume writing and workplace ethics.

She tapped into the department's Literacy Zone resources to bring in speakers, hold workshops and provide volunteer opportunities. One of the places students volunteer is the Orleans/Niagara BOCES' Clothes Closet. Stephanie helped to set up the "store" which sells donated clothing to help the disadvantaged in the community afford professional attire. By volunteering, students gain retail experience and customer service skills.

Recognizing that many of her students had an interest in the healthcare industry, she reached out to the local hospital and secured volunteer positions there as well. This has allowed some of the volunteers to be in a good position for when a job opening becomes available.

"Stephanie's kindness towards her students is unmatched," fellow teacher Rachel Rossi said. "Most of the population we teach is quite poor and many of the students' families have been on public assistance for generations. These facts dishearten and harden many agencies in Niagara Falls, so our clients do not always receive the services and respect they deserve. Stephanie will advocate for her students and do anything she can to help them find jobs. Of the 126 students who have passed through her class since this June, 40 of them have obtained gainful employment; an amazing accomplishment especially in an impoverished area such as Niagara Falls."

Out of the 380 members of NYACCE only eight teachers are recognized for outstanding contributions in education.

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Army Pvt. Ryan J. Herlan has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

Herlan is a 2011 graduate of Starpoint High School

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