From left to right, Roisin Creedon-Carey, Jennifer Creedon, Rory Creedon-Carey and Niamh Creedon-Carey.
It started with a dozen people willing to fight for what they believed in, what they wanted, what they knew their children needed.
By the second meeting, the gathering swelled to 30 individuals, determined to save their school district from being gutted by the consequences of dysfunctional government that seems to continue to let self interests guide it, despite claims by lawmakers of late that Albany has become a model for the nation under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.
This growing group of Plattsburgh parents, community members, educators and more has a voice it says it is bringing to the capital, and they will not stop until they have saved public education.
"We have been getting information on how bad this year's budget was going to be," said Danielle Seem, a parent who helped organize the effort, "and we just thought, what are we going to do about it?"
The School Board, administrators and teachers, through their powerful union, already lobby for public education, Seem pointed out, but there didn't seem to be any organized effort by parents and citizens.
So Seem organized a meeting and told everyone gathered to tell as many people as they could about what they were trying to do.
They started by writing letters to lawmakers, will continue to meet and are organizing a trip to Albany where they plan to make their voices heard.
Just a quick look at the state of public education demands such efforts, Seem and others say.
At Plattsburgh City School, the district would have to cut positions and reduce and wipe out valuable programs to bridge a $1.7 million budget gap.
Beekmantown Central School has talked of eliminating sports, as well as positions, among other programatic reductions.
Throughout the state, school districts are cutting athletics and student activities such as art, music and drama. They are also axing advanced placement and other programs for gifted students in the wake of inadequate state aid.
Over the past two years, the state has cut $2.7 billion in education funding.
But what's even more shocking, advocates point out, is that low- and average-income districts seem to be taking the biggest hit, experiencing significantly larger reductions in aid than wealthier districts.
In fact, Clinton County is among the hardest hit in the state, with an average state aid cut per student that exceeds $1,600, while Westchester averaged under $700 per student.
Since 2009-10, Plattsburgh CIty School has reduced $6.4 million in expenditures.
"This district offers opportunities that are not just core standards but things every kid should have," Seem said. "It would be terrible to lose those things and become a school district that just offers reading, writing and arithmetic.
"I think as a parent group we have a strong voice, and we have to learn how to use it."
That's vital, said Tracie Guzzio, another parent, because right now "our voices are no being heard."
She understands the nation has suffered through a financial crisis and there are budget issues, but these cuts school districts are making will impact children in ways no one will like.
As positions are eliminated, class sizes will increase, and programs for special education and gifted children will disappear. The arts and music are also in danger, all of which worries Guzzio.
"Those things are are important to young minds are going to be lost."
But Guzzio and other parents feel that Albany tends to forget about its small, rural communities.
"We need the money more than Westchester."
That's why the group in Plattsburgh and others like it need to grow, said Jennifer Creedon, who has three children in the Plattsburgh City School District.
"There doesn't seem to be a lot of parent involvement."
She moved to Plattsburgh from downstate and fell in love with the district. She sees the impact the employees and programs have on her children.
Her children have options in Plattsburgh, but she fears that all the things that set it aside may be lost.
But she also understands the financial side of the equation as a single mother struggling to pay the bills.
Taxpayers are stressed, which is another reason she and others want to take their message to Albany.
Creedon hopes more people add their voices to the cause, especially before the children lose music, art, gifted programs and ones for at-risk students, before class sizes swell uncontrollably and sports become an unaffordable luxury.
"I think it's just forming, and everyone seems very much interested in helping," Creedon said.
That gives her 12-year-old daughter, Niamh Creedon-Carey, hope.
"I'd be sad if they cancelled anything."
Her 10-year-old, Roisin Creedon-Carey, enjoys art in action and looks forward to taking Spanish in high school
"All of the programs I do are interesting, and I don't want them to be taken away."
Seem doesn't know if it will be too late to make a difference this year. But she believes if the community continues to organize it can become a strong force in future years.
"We are all working toward the same goal to keep our school district as in tact as it can be."