Budding meteorologist meets role model

Once a week, fifth-graders in teacher Michelle Branigan's classroom at McNamara Elementary School receive a weather report from their classmate, Justin DiFrancesco.

Justin is visually impaired and has other disabilities, but he does not let these disabilities hinder him in accomplishing his goal of keeping his peers up to date on the local weather situation. He memorizes the local forecast for the day, including the date, temperature, humidity and the extended forecast, and then he delivers the forecast to his classmates. He's been forecasting the weather for about a year.

On Dec. 9, Justin had a very special guest as part of his audience for his weekly forecast. After learning of Justin's weather forecasts, Wayne Mahar, chief meteorologist for Channel 3, stopped by to speak with Justin and his classmates about his and Justin's favorite subject - weather. The most popular question for Mr. Mahar? When will Baldwinsville have another snow day?

Mary Dressel, a teacher of the visually impaired in the district, discovered Justin's interest in the weather when she began working with him two and a half years ago. Justin is interested in studying to become a meteorologist.

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