Max Wagner - the 2021 ER Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Winner!
Congratulations to Max Wagner, East Rochester High School Class of 2021, on being awarded the Chamber of Commerce scholarship!
This $1,500 prize is presented annually to an ERHS senior who demonstrates strong leadership skills, an understanding of the geographic dynamics between ER's residential and commercial districts, and a positive outlook on the economic advancement of ER as a thriving business community. Selection is also based on academic performance, extracurricular and community activities, two letters of recommendation, and an essay on “Re-branding ER’s Image for 2022.” (An edited version of Max’s essay is below.)
Max plans to major in Business Administration in Information Systems at Florida International University, and pursue a career that involves technology and business in the workplace.
Throughout his years at ERHS, Max has been named to the National Honor Society, served on the yearbook committee and as Student Council vice-president, and played varsity tennis. His greatest passion, though, is soccer. A captain of the 20-21 Section V champion Bombers varsity team, Max is also an assistant coach with his family's Wagner Soccer Academy, and has studied futsal (a version of soccer played indoors on a hard court) and capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that incorporates dance and acrobatics). In addition, as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Brazil, he and his family launched a soccer initiative in Brazil, through which he led immersive cultural programs and taught English and math to Brazilian kids.
"Max consistently impresses me with his enthusiasm, diligence, intelligence, and positive attitude in the classroom," ERHS English teacher Lisa Cook wrote in her letter of recommendation. "He also has a healthy sense of himself, and is very respectful to students and adults alike.
"I believe Max will stand up very well to the rigors of life. He's very likeable and capable – a combination of assets that will help him succeed in and outside the classroom."
Essay guidelines: You have been commissioned to design a Marketing Plan that outlines your vision of East Rochester as a shopping destination for 2022. Describe your target audience, and address ER’s business highlights/strengths – along with any untapped potential. Explain why people should visit and shop in ER (as opposed to, for example, Fairport or Pittsford). Discuss how you support local businesses by providing examples of your local shopping habits.
East Rochester has a unique and special atmosphere. When I moved here from Brighton five years ago, I was able to see and experience what makes ER a different kind of town. Looking back at my time in Brighton, I noticed that Twelve Corners, which is the main part of town, was often being avoided by the community due to the high volume of traffic in the area. Twelve Corners has dozens of locally owned shops that require a patron to drive to them individually. It also contains a central area, which was intended for people to meet their friends in a gazebo or sit on benches. However, because of Brighton's size and traffic, most residents can’t walk to the Twelve Corners area to enjoy the shops and atmosphere. There doesn't seem to be a way to facilitate the coming together of the citizens and businesses in a centralized way.
When my family moved to ER I quickly became completely immersed into the community and school district. I was pleasantly surprised to find the school was just like the town, with its small community feel. I was able to make great friends as well as connect with the majority of my classmates because of the welcoming, small-town atmosphere. Much of my shopping is done in ER, whether it's ordering a pizza from Crust when I'm hanging out with friends or when I'm taking my dogs to The Dog Spaw. Nights in with my family often include ordering China Chef for dinner. My family patronizes ER stores and restaurants because we know that helping these mom-and-pop businesses supports the community around us. ER has a special dynamic – a sense of being a small town with a tight-knit community, but with the potential to open up to additional business opportunities and community development. The formation of a central, open-air shopping destination within ER would lead to an economic surge and expand community involvement.
My experiences living in ER, after coming from a town that doesn’t have the ability to tie in its citizens to its retail and consumer businesses, has helped me to create the idea for the Commercial Street Mall. This bringing together of parts of West Commercial Street will provide community members and visitors a unique, centralized location for gatherings, shopping, food, and events.
Starting in the spring and continuing throughout the summer/fall, the Commercial Street Mall would be an outside venue, open daily. It would be developed by blocking off West Commercial between Garfield and Main. The elimination of vehicular traffic along these two blocks would allow for a safe location for community gatherings and events, such as car shows, music and art festivals, family fairs, sports events, dog/pet shows, movie nights, farmers markets, and Taste of ER celebrations. ER – in addition to its convenient location and exceptional accessibility to other towns – is already established as a walking district, so having an open-air mall would be fitting for the village. The mall would also have direct connections to Piano Works, which would be used as the main parking lot for the CSM. I envision a walking path – maybe a pedestrian bridge – for visitors to safely and efficiently cross Washington without interfering with traffic. Using Piano Works as a parking lot will benefit both destinations, because it will give the Piano Works businesses more exposure.
Another necessity to make sure the outside mall is successful is the establishment of the Main Street Event Planning Association. This group would be in charge of bringing businesses together, marketing the new Commercial Street, and setting up events, which would draw even more attention to the community and its businesses.
East Rochester's stores and businesses are also appealing to many because they're generally smaller and locally owned, and many have been long-time staples of the community. People appreciate their great customer service and personal touch. And although ER is the smallest town around, it's home to businesses in most retail categories, such as sports/fitness, medical, grocery/restaurants, personal care, pet care, automotive, home repair, and specialty retail.
In summary, a “Re-Imagined” Commercial Street Mall would be a central location for community members to meet up and enjoy themselves and all the town has to offer. With it, East Rochester can expand its impact on its citizens, while also growing its businesses' outreach to those in and outside ER.