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Budget Cuts Force Changes In Popular Program

Undaunted, Boys and Girls Club

Peer Tutoring Program thrives

The budget may have been slashed, but the enthusiasm remains strong for the Peer Tutoring Program at the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club.

The club was humming late one recent Thursday afternoon with tutoring sessions underway in quiet upstairs offices away from the happy noise of the first floor lounge where students played games, read or relaxed after school.

Executive Director Thomas Bruno says a one-third reduction in county funding from last year forced them to make changes.

“Right now we have 29 matches,” he said, with some students coming more than once.

Matches, or tutoring sessions, are held Monday through Friday between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. in the club’s headquarters at 79 West Old Country Road, a white two-story house warmly outfitted to young people’s needs and interests – including games for recreation and socialization and computers and quiet space to study – all within walking distance of the nearby Middle School and High School.

In a recent interview in his second floor office, lined with photos and awards, Bruno said, “We lost $50,000 from the county and had to cut back our hours.” Last year the sessions ran until eight o’clock Monday through Thursday evenings – three hours longer than right now.

“A kind of magic happens,” he said when the tutors first meet their students, who are about the same age as they are. “The kids have a real feel for each other.”

Most tutors, he said, are high school students and the closeness in age and year in school between the tutor and student makes for a special relationship that is sometimes absent if an older adult is involved.

“We have such a nice variety of kids. They’re from Hicksville, Syosset, Plainview and Jericho,” Bruno said of the tutors.

After they formally apply for the position, he said, volunteers are screened, interviewed and asked to provide references. When they are approved, they are matched up with a student who requests help “in any subject,” he said.

He smiled at the recollection of one of his “many success stories” involving that of a young man who came to them “shy and withdrawn.” The experience provided him with a newfound confidence and he went on to become a tutor himself. He said kids who come to the club hear about the program through school or their friends.

Once their service is over, Bruno said he provides the tutors with a letter from him praising their work. With colleges placing a greater emphasis than ever on community service, these letters are a prized possession and part of the

Another casualty of the budget cutting, Bruno said, is the popular English as a Second Language Program (ESL), although he remains hopeful it will return and some of the funding restored.

News

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. That’s just what a Hicksville baker is doing, except in her case it isn’t lemons, but a gluten-free diet. Her lemonade stand of choice is her brand new gluten-free eatery, “Jac’s Bakeshop and Bistro,” which held its grand opening on April 12.  

“I’m a baker who can’t even eat wheat or eggs,” said owner Jaclyn Messina, chuckling at the irony.

There’s a lot you can do in 99 minutes. You could cook dinner, play a non-stop soccer game, watch a romantic comedy or hang out with Odysseus, Achilles and Hercules. If you chose the last option, Hicksville High School’s upcoming theatre production of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less  is the place for you.

The mouthful of a title says it all. The cast will take on over 80 characters as they speed through all of Greek mythology, including popular tales such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, in a little over an hour and a half.


Sports

Vito Sciascia was recently named Hicksville Soccer Club’s Volunteer of the Year at the 2014 Long Island Junior Soccer League 2014 Kick-off Convention.

Sciascia started coaching travel soccer in 1998 for a boys team, the Flash, who later changed their names to the Muddogs. He could always be found at various sporting fields trying to recruit new soccer players. He would make each of these boys feel important and there was always room for another player. He tried to never turn a child away and when other coaches were having trouble with a boy he would take them on his team, no one was ever too much for him. Sciascia found the good in all those boys and they in return respected him. He took them to many tournaments and solicited enough sponsorship so that it was never a financial burden on their families.

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien  scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season.


Calendar

The Acchords Concert

April 26

Senior Citizen Luncheon

May 1

Curtains

May 1-3



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com