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Taking The Reins

Trinity Lutheran welcomes
Lisa Cacchioli as new school’s principal

Spend a few minutes with Principal Lisa Cacchioli and three words come to life. “A Caring Place,” which is etched on the red awning over the Nicholai Street entrance to Trinity Lutheran School, is transformed from a gentle greeting into a warm embrace of every student inside.

Add a dedicated staff and you have a center of learning combining cutting edge technology, educational basics and deep moral values.

“I firmly believe in respect for everyone at all times,” Cacchioli said.

That respect is evident in the comfortable lobby that greets visitors with a wall of wisdom that changes in theme each month.  January – new beginnings.  February – the heart. In an interview before a tour of the school she clearly loves, Cacchioli praised a talented parent for assembling the sayings, scripture and artwork, noting, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Students at Trinity Lutheran range in age from 2 to 14 – kindergarten to middle school. In addition to Hicksville, they come from Westbury, Plainview, Jericho, Hempstead, Levittown and Syosset. The school was founded in 1952.

After greeting each one at 8:15 a.m., Cacchioli makes the daily announcements on the public address system before she shares a literary treat with kindergartners, first- and second-graders. Each day she reads a page or two of Charlottes Web.

“They love it,” Cacchioli said. “Reading is so important.  It changes lives.”

One innovative class is devoted to study habits. A popular one, it focuses on the importance of organization and note taking. Cursive is also taught as is sentence diagramming and grammar, subjects that sometimes take a backseat in this age of fast communication.  


Computers are also an integral part of the curriculum. She proudly showcased a fully equipped computer room, filled with students glued to their screens working on “endangered animal research,” according to instructor Mr. Stainkamp.

“Kids just love computers,” he said, explaining their project will evolve into a PowerPoint presentation.

Smart boards fill many classrooms, but not all. Cacchioli said a fundraiser is being planned for later this month to bring smart boards to every room. “We need more,” she said, eying eight.

Keeping her students in shape is a high priority for Cacchioli, as is giving back.  Physical education teacher John Asenza described “Hoops for Heart ” that has students engaged in “anything that has to do with jumping” as a way to stay fit and help the community at the same time. The student’s efforts, Cacchioli explained, raise money that is donated to the American Heart Association.

“We have amazing students,” she said with contagious enthusiasm, as she navigated the picture-filled walls upstairs and down. Visiting one classroom, a 2-year-old, Nicholas, spontaneously hugged her.

Later visiting the multipurpose room, Cacchioli offered words of encouragement and caution to a class of preschoolers who turned the large room into a temporary tricycle track zooming round and round on shiny three-wheelers. In another room she was serenaded by Mrs. Evers’ class of 4 year olds, who belted out a patriotic song while one student held the American flag.

With the exception of the young ones in the Early Childhood Center, every student wears a uniform, providing “consistency,” Cacchioli said, along with easing the pressure of the age-old question – what do I wear today?

“Our community,” she said of Hicksville, “has always been solid and hardworking,” two traits she instills in her students. “I am here all the time,” she said, and teachers stay late, providing role models for the children.

Students also stay late to help one another. Their peer tutoring program involves middle school students assisting the younger ones in reading, math and other subjects

Character-building takes countless forms from words of the month – friendship, perseverance and integrity, for example – to the adoption of a charity by each class, to the Wednesday worship service in the chapel led by Pastor Henn or sometimes a parent.

Lighter moments of the week include pizza day every Friday, but this day – a bitter cold Monday – featured the gentle aroma of homemade chicken soup and garlic bread.       

A graduate of C.W. Post, Cacchioli later received her masters in education from Queens College, following a brief time as a bond trader on Wall Street. After having two children – a daughter, 22, and a son, 20 – she knew her love was education and she began teaching, “a calling,” she said. She served as interim principal for a year three years ago after teaching for some 10 years, then returned to the classroom for a year before being named principal.     

“Our teachers are phenomenal,” she said. Many stay decades. The director of the Early Childhood Center, Mrs. Rausch, is stepping down this year after 36 years. “I’ve taught hundreds of kids,” she said as she held a tiny pair of plaid high top sneakers preparing to return them to the rightful owner.  

Clearly comfortable in any classroom or enthusiastically greeting teachers or students in the hallway, Cacchioli said all she has to do is spend time with her students and her day is brighter.  

“I feel like I was led to this,” Cacchioli said.  

News

Bullying is a serious problem in today’s society and the controversial topic was the focus at last Saturday’s  'Bully-Proof Your Child Seminar’ at East Coast MMA & Fitness Center in Hicksville. State Senator Jack Martins and Legislator Rose Marie Walker attended the program which ran in the newly renovated center on Woodbury Road.

“Bullying is a real issue in our communities and I want to thank East Coast Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness for agreeing to host this forum,” said Martins. “Teaching our kids self defense to protect themselves or to protect those around them is a great thing. We need to take every opportunity to teach our kids important life lessons.”

Old classmates reignited friendships and shared memories of their teenage years as the Hicksville High School Class of 1964 came together recently to celebrate their 50th reunion at the Holiday Inn in Plainview.

Among the attendees was Bob Cheeseman who met his wife, Lorraine (Kirwan) in middle school. They were serious throughout high school and married soon after. Bob said, “I enlisted in high school and went into the Air Force. I did 30 years active Air Force and another 15 after that. I retired in 2010 as a Brigadier General. After I retired, my wife received a certificate from the Governor of Texas and was designated a Yellow Rose of Texas.”


Sports

The Hicksville boys volleyball team improved to 3-3 on the season by topping Sewanhaka in three sets by the scores of 25-14, 25-20 and 25-13.

“We lost the first few matches this year but bounced back to win the last three,” said Hicksville’s second year Head Coach Kevin Bunting. “We have a young team — we lost three starters last year. We have no seniors on this team, but we have three juniors,” he added. Bunting noted that it will bode well for next year’s team when they have even more experience to build on.

It seemed to happen in an instant.

Hicksville forward Michael Osmundsen was touching the ball past Kellenburg goalkeeper Jack Abuin to slot the ball into an empty net to score the lone goal in the non-league 1-0 victory over the Firebirds.

It’s nothing short of what Comets boys soccer head coach Scott Starkey would expect. He described his forward as “very explosive, fast and he’s not just fast — he’s tenacious.”


Calendar

Community Council Meeting

October 2

Indoor Garage Sale

October 5

Movie: God’s Not Dead

October 5



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