Author: Courtney Kless

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Courtney Kless is the Editor in Chief of Family Times. Courtney is originally from Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from Syracuse University. Courtney began her career as a sports journalist, then spent several years working in higher education, before joining the company in August 2019. She enjoys traveling, reading and hiking, and recently adopted a Labrador Retriever, Bailey.

March has always been one of my favorite months for one reason: college basketball. Though my bracket predictably falls apart in the first round every year, there is nothing quite like an upset. I’m still talking about the time my alma mater, UMBC, defeated top-seeded Virginia, and that was two years ago. But I also happen to be a lifelong Syracuse University basketball fan, so this month’s Treat Yourself was a no-brainer. One recent Saturday night, I ventured downtown to the PressRoom Pub to watch the Orange host Duke. First opened in April 2018, the pub’s name (and décor) is…

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Addressing the Digital Divide Onondaga County families can check out more than books at their local library. Tech packs are now available at branches throughout the county, and there are plans to add more. Each tech pack includes a Chromebook and internet hotspot (with chargers), as well as a guide, and patrons are able to check them out for three weeks. Last winter, with a pilot program already in place at a few branches, County Executive Ryan McMahon announced that the county would invest $100,000 to purchase more packs. According to Christian Zabriskie, executive director of the Onondaga County Public…

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During the 2018-19 school year, a group of students from Auburn Junior High School collected more than 35,000 bottle caps for a local project. Those bottle caps were later turned into benches and placed at the district’s five elementary schools. This year, those students wanted to do more, and the Environmental Club was founded. “In college, I took a class entirely about plastics. Ever since, I’ve been hyper-aware of what their impact is,” says Julie Feheley, the club’s adviser and a Technology teacher at the school. “In my class, one day a year, I would teach them what plastics are,…

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Are you looking for somewhere to eat for Valentine’s Day? Do you just need a night out? If so, consider Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse in Liverpool. My husband and I headed there for dinner and a show. Located on Old Liverpool Road, the restaurant first opened its doors in 1975. You can sit at a non-cooking table or a hibachi table, where guests can watch as their food is prepared. I recommend the latter to get the full experience, especially if you’ve never visited a hibachi restaurant before – it was our first trip. Manager Bridget Hodgson says the chicken teriyaki…

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A cord blood transplant saved Mildred Bethea’s life. She survived battles with breast cancer and a type of acute leukemia, the second of which Bethea says “catapulted me to death’s door,” before being diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. After Bethea went into remission for a third time, her doctor recommended a bone marrow transplant. Though she was unable to find an adult donor match, she did find one at a public cord blood bank. “At that point, it became an issue of what they would have to do to me in order to give me the transplant because I had been…

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One afternoon in early December, students from East Syracuse Elementary School and a group of local senior citizens sipped on hot chocolate and created marshmallow snow people. They are all part of an intergenerational program at the school. “Mary and I thoughtfully put our heads together and realized the greatest resource we have is our senior citizens in the community. The cost is free but the experience is priceless.” – Denise McGinley, Third grade teacher at East Syracuse Elementary Joan Tolhurst, affectionately known as ‘Grandma T,’ has been part of that program since the beginning. “It’s just an amazing program because…

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When I was younger, one of my favorite winter activities was ice skating. I would speed around the rink, imaging I was the next Michelle Kwan or Apolo Anton Ohno. So, what better way to treat myself than an evening ice skating in Clinton Square? The rink, which opened in 2001, is now one of Syracuse’s most popular winter attractions. Clinton Square Ice Rink attracts more than 20,000 guests each year, according to ILoveNY.com. I have skated at an outdoor rink once in the past – near The Strong Museum in downtown Rochester – but it had been awhile since…

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Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding and Snow Tubing Camillus Ski Hill – Described as a “diamond in the rough” by Camillus Ski Association President Andy Arbital, the volunteer-run facility offers low-cost skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. Visitors can also take lessons, stop by the consignment shop or pick up snacks and a cup of hot chocolate at the snack bar. Keep in mind, hours depend on conditions. Where: 401 Blackmore Rd., Camillus. More information: camillusskihill.com. Four Seasons Golf & Ski Center – Looking for a family-friendly option on the east side of town? Bill Hane, operations manager at Four Seasons, says about…

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Two students developed their own Amazon Alexa. Another pair created a number converter. A third group is building and coding robots. All are members of the Girls Who Code Club at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. “I have a lot of driven young women who are learning a lot about technology and themselves, and are flourishing because of it,” says Matt Harbinger, the club’s advisor. “The pitch that I usually give is not, ‘You should take this because you’re going to be a computer scientist one day, therefore you should be in this club,’ because we would have two people. Instead,…

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Play the Game Read the Story Photos by Karley Harmon Jason Engle has seen a resurgence in the popularity of board games. In addition to what Engle – the manager at Play the Game Read the Story – calls the largest board game selection in the area, the store offers comic books, graphic novels and collectibles. You can visit them at two locations: Destiny USA and North Clinton Street. Locations 9808 Destiny USA Dr., Syracuse 689 N. Clinton St., Syracuse Hours Destiny USA Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. North…

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