Even under an overcast sky, with some of the dirt roads turned to mud from visiting cars, Saddle Rock Ranch is still beautiful. The 15-acre property, dating back to 1812, is filled with wide expanses of grass, a tree-lined pond, a garden and some of the world’s calmest, gentlest horses. The ranch is something clients of Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) with developmental disabilities have been able to enjoy for some time, but for a group of foster children and teens from the city on a cool winter Saturday on Dec. 8, it was a brand new experience.
It may seem like the goal of the outing was to get city kids out in the fresh air and give them a chance to interact with the horses and other farm animals (and that was certainly part of it), but there was more going on: for Heart Gallery NYC, a nonprofit organization that works to match children in foster care with adoptive parents, it was a chance to begin preparing the children for life beyond the foster care system.
The hundreds who gathered in Mineola for the last meeting of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission on Jan. 3 didn’t throw any tomatoes at the front of the room, but some came close. For more than four hours, approximately 50 speakers lambasted the map proposed by the Republican side of the commission, generally characterizing it as a transparent power play with no consideration for the public good or even the law. The Democratic commissioners were not completely spared the public’s ire, but most of the anger was directed at the Republicans; the Democrats’ map, proposed at nearly the last minute on Dec. 31, was praised, although somewhat tepidly, as a fair plan.
Considering that hundreds of angry people were crammed into the Legislative Chambers demanding answers from the Republican commissioners, who by and large didn’t respond, it’s remarkable that tempers didn’t flare more.
In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, CT, much of the discussion at the most recently Plainview-Old Bethpage CSD Board of Education meeting on Monday, Dec. 17 was centered on school security. While Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis was clear that security had already been tightened and new security measures are being considered, a balance needs to be struck between security and school climate.
“Schools are not a prison; they are a wonderful place for learning,” said Lewis.
Leave it to Kids Helping Kids to get started on its Ninth Annual “Making a Warmth of a Difference” Winter Apparel Drive long before winter. While the official kickoff for the annual clothing drive took place on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at the palatial Oheka Castle in Huntington, the nonprofit organization had already donated 3,000 pieces of winter apparel, including brand-new coats, hats, scarves and other cold weather gear, to those affected by Hurricane Sandy in the fall. While the Superstorm may have presented an unusual situation, being ahead of the game is nothing new for this nonprofit started by Robert A.J. Eslick of Old Bethpage—when he was only 9 years old.
“You don’t have to be a grownup to make a difference,” said Bob Eslick, Robert’s father, who co-founded the organization with his son in 1997. Now, both Robert and his brother Philip are college graduates, but under Eslick’s watch, the organization continues to teach a new generation of kids the fulfillment of helping their peers.
Weeks after the tragic Connecticut school shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead, what to do differently going forward to prevent similar shootings from happening in the future is still the hot topic on everyone’s lips. School board meetings throughout the area over the past few weeks were filled with parents requesting tighter security, while other parents questioned the value of extra security cameras and locks, instead suggesting stronger character education programs. Meanwhile, area lawmakers and other community leaders are beginning to attempt to address these issues with the tools available to them.
For Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs, the best way to make a difference going forward is to make sure that funding for mental health services in Nassau County is protected.
Members of the Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy (POBJFK) Marching Band recently participated in the Town of Oyster Bay Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony at Theodore Roosevelt Park in Oyster Bay. The POBJFK band has participated in this important memorial for 23 consecutive years. Students performed patriotic music and bugle calls to commemorate the event. POBJFK Band Director Jerry Loeb organized the performance. Pictured, the band performed the National Anthem.
After the school shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday that left 20 children and six adults dead, millions are talking about what can be done to prevent these horrific mass murders from reoccurring. In addition to sending their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, people all over the country are talking about new methods of gun control, how to reign in glamorized media violence without impinging upon artistic expression, how best to improve mental health care, and many other topics believed to have a strong influence over the frequency of public mass-shootings in the U.S. Locally, parents, lawmakers and school officials are beginning to offer some possible answers.
“We cannot begin to assign a psychiatrist to every American, but we can take meaningful steps to lessen the effect of what has become an American culture of violence and obsession with guns,” said Assemblyman Charles Lavine. “I have long fought for rational measures of gun control and to keep high-capacity magazines and weapons out of the hands of those who should never be allowed to use them. I will continue to do so.”
The Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School Varsity and Junior Varsity Cheerleaders placed first and second, respectively, in the Valley Stream North Cheerleading Competition on Sunday, Dec. 2. The varsity squad, led by captain Jessica Doremus, competed in the afternoon, taking first place against 10 other varsity squads. The junior varsity squad, competing in the morning, placed second against four other squads. Pictured with their first-place trophy are, on the top row: Gianna Oliva, Marissa Corbett, Alexa Cepeda, Mackenzie Venezia, Amanda Mazzocchi, Amanda Corbett, Jen Klein and Jen Saraceno. Pictured on the bottom row are Elena Santana, Caitlyn Overbeck, Capt. Jessica Doremus, Danielle Goehring, Shayna Krasnoff, Danielle Hall and Maria Leon.
Days off from school are becoming an increasingly rare commodity for district students in 2013. At the Monday, Dec. 3 Plainview-Old Bethpage Board of Education meeting, the board voted to hold school on Feb. 19-22, originally scheduled as winter break, as well as May 24 and May 28, the days flanking Memorial Day weekend. In total, these changes will return six instructional days to the schedule, the same amount lost to Hurricane Sandy earlier this fall.
However, making up the days by cutting out the President’s Week vacation isn’t the only step the district is taking to add more instructional time to the calendar. POBJFK High School Principle James Murray explained that many districts on Long Island have decided to forego the regular midterm week in January this year, and he believes that POB should follow suit. “It would be my recommendation as well that we be able to try and get back some instructional time, teachers with their students,” said Murray.
It started out small, but it grew and keeps on growing, as the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) joined with Bob Cook and the people at The Runner’s Edge to help raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Highlighted by a Fun Run at The Runner’s Edge on Nov. 25, the money kept pouring in, with close to $50,000 already donated to help Long Islanders in need. Best of all, the Bethpage Federal Credit Union is matching the money raised, dollar for dollar. Now, $100,000 is going to the Long Island Chapter of the United Way.
“Runners are generous people indeed,” observed GLIRC Marketing Director Sue Fitzpatrick. “We thank Bob Cook for his leadership in this endeavor and all of you who opened your hearts and your checkbooks to help those Long Islanders in need! Words can’t begin to express our thanks to that great Long Island corporate citizen Bethpage Federal Credit Union for stepping up once again to be part of this effort.”
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