Written by Christopher Gavin Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
As the warmer weather sets in, the beginning of prom season takes off at the beginning of June like clockwork every year. For the autistic students at the Brookville Center for Children’s Services however, the May 31 prom was a first this year.
The residence program administered by the center educates kids with autism up until age 21, according to Beth Hudson, the senior director at the school. There are 25 students between the Lido Beach and Glen Cove houses, Amy Keegan, assistant director of community resources at the center, said.
The gala or prom event was held at the center’s Brookville mansion as a way to celebrate the graduation for those who are graduating into the adult program next week and was attended by 28 students, Keegan said.
“We wanted them to have the same experience a typical student would have,” Hudson said in a phone interview.
Hudson explained the autistic residence opened in 2009, which allowed for students to be closer to their families. Before that, they had to study out of New York state to receive the same education, she said. Since then, there has not been a large enough group of graduating students to hold a prom, Hudson said.
“The kids are all on the autism spectrum which means that they have a wide variety of abilities and many of them are very bright but because they couldn’t be served in their home [school] district, they didn’t have the usual social connections that most kids do,” Hudson said.
From this, the idea of a prom was born, but not without the styling help and expertise of MetroLook, she said.
The mobile beauty salon is made up of Tamara or “T” Cooper and Dana Arcidy, who base MetroLook out of Manhattan’s upper west side, Cooper said. Cooper’s niece works at the center, she said.
“She told me that these kids were pretty much aging out of the program, they’re giving them a little gala to say goodbye to them, similar to a prom situation, and would I be interested in providing hair and make-up,” Cooper said in a phone interview. “So of course I said yes. How can you say no to something like that?”
Cooper said MetroLook had never done anything exactly like this before although the two stylists gave makeovers to victims of Hurricane Sandy last fall. The duo usually does work for weddings and companies like VH1 and Vogue, she said.
The different set of clientele however did not seem to make a difference though, Hudson said.
“They just loved the whole experience,” Hudson said. “Some [of the boys] asked for a Justin Bieber haircut. It was probably the first time most of the girls wore serious make-up…They felt really important that night.”
Cooper said it was important for her too.
“I [had] no previous exposure to autistic children before so for me it was really special and also eye opening because I had no clue how severe autism could be,” she said later mentioning her favorite moment of the makeover process when one student was ecstatic about her new look.
Cooper also said that she was able to give gift bags to the girls thanks to Ricky’s NYC, a beauty supplier, who sponsored her. Bow ties were made for the boys by TIEEBOWS, she said.
Hudson said that students entering the adult program will learn how to work different jobs and skills similar to those in the workforce. She also said the most beneficial part of the whole experience was being able to show the kids that their lives are not that different than other people their age.
“Sometimes [leaving the program] is a very stressful period of their life because it’s the first time many of them really had to come to grips with the fact that their life is not going to take the same track as their typical peers,” she said. “This was one way of showing that their lives can be rich and full and can look a lot like their brother’s and sister’s do.”
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 00:00
U.S. Air Force Veteran Mario Dell’aera, 80, of Levittown said he first volunteered for service in 1952, during the Korean War.
“They called volunteers ‘regulars,’” he said, reflecting back to when he first enlisted.
From 1952-1956, Dell’era called the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. home. The base, he said, operated 24 hours, 7 days a week, training pilots to fly overseas into Korea.
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00
A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.
All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.
Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.
Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.
In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.
“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”
With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.
Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.
The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.
The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “
At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.
Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.
Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.
The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.
In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.
Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games.