Penn Yan Academy Principal David Pullen called Kriese “the most dedicated, student-centered and caring teacher I've ever known... I've never met an educator who works so hard for his students.”

Penn Yan Academy Agriculture teacher John Kriese knows how to grow things, how to build things, and how to fix things. His ability to mentor, support, and guide young people, looking past weaknesses to help students find a direction for their future brought a large and appreciative crowd out for the 87th Penn Yan FFA Chapter Banquet at Penn Yan Academy June 8.

The banquet is an annual celebration of the achievements of the Penn Yan FFA chapter and its members. Kriese has been the advisor of the chapter since he was hired by the Penn Yan Central School District in 1990. Now, on the eve of his retirement, scores of people who were influenced by him came together to share laughs and tears as he free-wheeled his way through honoring student achievements and accepting their words of thanks.

As Kriese deflected attention showered on him to direct focus on the students’ achievements throughout the evening, it was reflected back on him through their comments.

“You have led Penn Yan Academy to become one of the premiere FFA chapters in New York State,” said Marcy (Quackenbush) Ross, one of his former students, adding, “You are the epitome of leader and role model.”

“John Kriese set the bar high by giving the community something to be proud of,” said Superintendent of Schools Howard Dennis.

Penn Yan Academy Principal David Pullen called Kriese “the most dedicated, student-centered and caring teacher I’ve ever known... I’ve never met an educator who works so hard for his students.”

Several former students, including Susan Vaughan, who is now raising 1,000 head of dairy cattle, a barn full of sheep, and four children in New Zealand, sent video messages thanking Kriese for his influence on their lives. Current students also had a chance to give him remembrances and express their thanks.

During the awards segment of the evening, Kriese praised the accomplishments of his students with his own unique style.

He honored:

• Connor Moore as Outstanding Freshman, pointing out that Moore’s family pays tuition for him to attend Penn Yan Academy so he can participate in the Agriculture education programs. He travels from Lyons to Penn Yan every day. Moore also received the Sean Murdock Memorial Award, a scholarship to attend Camp Oswegatchie.

• Triana Burgos Farnan as Outstanding Sophomore

• Maci Nicholson as Outstanding Junior

• Brayden Webber as Outstanding Senior. Webber also received the Dekalb award.

Greenhand Degrees were presented to Connor Moore, Zach Gurba, Morgan Schofield, Clark Simmons, Lee Miller, Nick Caroll, Bre Lane Tomian, Colby Olsen, Nick Ovenshire, and Genna Elliott.

Chapter Degrees were presented to Triana Burgos Farnan, Janet Martins, Briana Hawley, Akiya Brewer, Alex Voak, Hunter Jensen, Leah Moniot, and Kendall Johncox.

Empire Degree recipients were Alavro Chavez, Nathan Elliott, Kendall Johncox, and Brayden Webber.

FFA Contest Award Winners were Brayden Webber, Nathan Elliott, Tito Chavez, Kendall Johncox, Triana Burgos Farnan, Janet Martins, Leah Moniot, Morgan Scofield, Connor Moore, and Maci Nicholson.

Kriese presented Seniors Brayden Webber, Nathan Elliott and Tito Chavez with special FFA sashes to wear during graduation.

The Friend of FFA Award was presented to Andrew Jensen, an FFA Alumni who barbecues chicken for the chapter’s benefit.

An Honorary Degree was presented to Board of Education Vice President Kathy Guenther for her continued support of agriculture programs and FFA.

In May, members of the Penn Yan chapter attended the New York State Convention in Rochester, where Kriese was recognized as well, and where Penn Yan students earned top awards, many which were displayed outside the auditorium. An article about those achievements will be published in the June 20 edition of The Chronicle-Express.