Meet The Washingtonville BOE Candidates

By Eugenia Moskowitz

The eight candidates vying for three open Washingtonville Board of Education seats gathered for a “Meet the Candidates” night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Round Hill Elementary School organized by the Round Hill PTA with questions pre-submitted by district residents and read aloud and moderated by PTA president Abby Garguilo.

The questions covered topics such as: transparency and communication of BOE meetings via video or podcast; BOE supporting parents’ right to accept or refuse current standardized testing; salaries of teachers and administrators and its effect on retaining teachers; what each candidate can bring to the BOE and the school district community; why candidates are interested in taking a hand in the district community; the future direction of the district and its challenges if demographics change; and the search for the new superintendent.

For those who couldn’t attend, the entire event has been posted to YouTube in two parts under the headings (exactly as printed here) “MeettheCandidate Part1 Washingtonville” and “MeettheCandidate Part2 Washingtonville.”

In addition to three open BOE seats, the public will vote May 17 on a 2016-2017 school budget of $89,401,006, as well as a proposition to purchase 10 new buses for $945,000. Voting will be at the high school only.

(Bio of Patricia Valentine not available)

Corinne Cody

My husband David and I have been Washingtonville residents for 21 years. My daughters Jacquelyn and Morganne graduated from the district in 2006 and 2010.

I have 15 years of experience in public accounting; as a CPA my business experience includes all aspects of audits and financial reporting as well as tax preparation and consulting work for nonprofits, corporations, partnerships and sole proprietors from a broad spectrum of industries. I have 16 years of experience in the banking industry. I was in the 2013 class of Leadership Orange, a multi-dimensional leadership training program.

I have the business experience that will be an asset to the BOE. After 11 years on the WCSD Audit Committee, I have a good working knowledge of the district’s business department and financial condition. The BOE is responsible for providing leadership and governance to the school district and good governance is critical to the district’s ability to make difficult decisions, ask difficult questions and maintain open communication with teachers, staff, unions and residents.

The WCSD has current and ongoing challenges including filling the superintendent’s and the business superintendent’s positions as well as addressing the never ending burdens of state and federal mandates including the challenges of the Common Core.

I will be a productive and responsible member of the BOE for the district. My daughters had great educational experiences finishing 10th and 2nd in their classes and going on to respected universities. They also had rewarding athletic experiences in the varsity swimming program where they both still hold school and Section IX records. It’s important for all the district children to have the same opportunities my daughters had. The district needs to continue to provide the best academic and extra-curricular programs possible to allow each student to be involved in activities they can be a proud part of. The BOE needs to provide the oversight that allows the district to provide those programs in a fiscally responsible way.

I am currently chairperson and (since 2005) a member of the WCSD Audit Committee, a NYS mandated committee responsible for oversight of all audits and auditor selection of the district. Since 2013 I have been director on the Board of Directors of the Hudson Valley Estate Planning Council. Over the last 15 years I have been: treasurer and finance chairperson for Metropolitan Swimming, Inc.; official and referee for USA Swimming; officials’ area chairperson for the Hudson Valley North Swim Officials; treasurer of Viking Aquatic Swim Club; and for six years was treasurer of the Little Britain PTO.

Jeremy McVey

My wife, Sue, and I are 14 year residents of Washingtonville with our children, Jake(12), Katie (10) and Luke (6). I graduated with a Bachelor’s from West Point and an MBA from the University of Maryland. I’m heavily involved in the community through coaching football, baseball, soccer and basketball and volunteer opportunities at the school.

The educational future of the children of WCSD is my top priority; they are my special interest group. I am the only school board candidate running who has small children currently in the district. I’m passionate about doing all I can to ensure our kids are best prepared for the next step and I recognize the importance of a strong academic foundation in order to propel our children into a successful life after Washingtonville.

I am an independent leader and will make the hard and occasionally unpopular decision when necessary. People may not always like what I have to say but I will always be fair.

I have valuable experience on a board as I serve on the Purple Heart Hall of Honor Board of Directors. I manage a multi-million dollar organization and work with my team to ensure fiscal responsibility of the organization. Communication and transparency, even when it is unpopular, will be one of the cornerstones of my term. I think the detailed minutes of the Board of Election meetings should be shared with the public.

Data analysis, community education and feedback and the effect our decisions have on our children should drive BOE decisions. We need to take all concerns and variables into consideration before making decisions that could have an effect on the development and education of our children.

A board runs most effectively when there is diversity. A combination of institutional knowledge with fresh ideas is what will always be best for our community. I would like to be that new voice with fresh ideas.

From my service to our country and community, West Point, and working for ConEdison, I have what it takes to continue to be a leader for our school district.

Please contact me on Facebook or email voteforjeremy@yahoo.com with questions or concerns at any time. I hope to earn your support, I will always be accessible, and I will make you proud to call me your representative.

John Coughlin

I have served on the Washingtonville Board of Education for nine years and am up for re-election. I am currently the vice president of the BOE, a member of the Facilities Committee, and have previously served as a member of the Policy and Audit Committees.

My family has been in Washingtonville and Rock Tavern for nearly 25 years. I am a lifelong area resident who grew up in my great-grandparents’ house in Maybrook. I graduated from the Valley Central School District and then Mount Saint Mary College with Bachelor’s degrees in computer science and mathematics. I worked as a Global Project Manager for IBM in New York, Paris, Singapore and Australia, then joined Ford Motor Company’s Fleet Service Operations in 2015 as a Fleet Bid Specialist helping Ford identify and secure federal, state, and local government and municipal contracts for parts, service and vehicles.

My wife Frances and I have three children all attending school in the district: Mallory will graduate in 2016 and attend the University of Delaware to pursue a degree in Secondary Education in history; Sydney is a junior in high school, is interested in the field of psychology, and was a member of this year’s Odyssey of the Mind team that won first place regionally, attending the NYS competition in Binghamton; and John is finishing up eighth grade enjoying several after school programs, especially ski club and playing Eugene in this year’s school theater performance of Grease. He is looking forward to high school and participating in the JROTC.

John O’Neill

I have been a Washingtonville/Salisbury Mills resident for the past 23 years. My son and daughter are Washingtonville School District graduates and my two granddaughters are Washingtonville School District students.

My wife is a principal in the WCSD. I have been employed by the New York City Department of Education for 44-plus years, the past 23 years as a Human Resources Director. My experience includes hiring and processing school and administrative personnel; school and district staffing; grievances; state certification; providing professional development for school based staff on maintaining Human Resources data: collaborating with district/school leaders, school personnel, unions and community members to strengthen student achievement by helping to provide highly qualified teaching staff. My experiences enable me to have a full comprehension of what is needed for schools to be successful learning institutions.

Kathy Gualtieri

I have been a Washingtonville resident for 15 years. My husband Tony and I chose Washingtonville based on the reputation of the school system and the community. It was our desire that our children receive a quality education that would enable them to make choices in pursuing their own career path.

My children Briana (21) and Peter (16) are both juniors: Briana an Elementary/Special Ed major at the College of Saint Rose (concentration in math, minor in Spanish) and Peter a junior at Washingtonville High School. My children have been involved in the WCSD athletics (soccer and swimming) and music programs. My husband Tony volunteers as a soccer coach in Washingtonville and plays on the community soccer team.

I am a teacher of 25 years currently working in the Cornwall school district. I have taught various elementary grade levels and am currently working as an academic intervention specialist in reading and math. I previously taught as a catechist for St. Mary’s church. I have worked on committees to develop appropriate assessments in reading and writing that provide teachers with information to make informed decisions to target instruction for their students and provide feedback to students and parents. In my role, I have participated in numerous 504 and Committee of Special Ed meetings and have worked with teams to support the instructional/emotional needs of all our children. I enjoy teaching and am proud to say I’m a teacher. I also note that parents entrust schools and teachers with their children, which is exactly why I chose Washingtonville. I advocate for children, which is the job of a parent/teacher.

My goals, if elected, are to: work at establishing professional communication that benefits the needs of our children; ask questions that identify the needs of our children and schools and work together to pinpoint viable, fiscally responsible solutions that benefit our schools; review district policy; participate in the Curriculum Committee; support literacy; review safety and conditions of facilities; and review qualifications for future leadership roles in the WCSD.

Thank you for your consideration.

Joe Bonomi

I’m running for re-election to the Washingtonville School Board. I have been a board member for the past 6 years and prior to that was a charter member of the district’s Audit Committee for two years, where I gained an understanding of the school board and its functions prior to running for board membership.

I have lived in Orange County for the past twenty years. I have two children, one who graduated from Washingtonville and one currently in 10th grade. I am currently employed as a food service director at a local school, and prior to that was a small business owner in the Village. For twelve years I was a member of the teamster union member (local 1262). My wife, as well as my parents, were also union members.

I understand the challenges that we have been through and what lies ahead. I am an avid supporter of a parent’s right to “opt out.” I have been a member of the district’s Advocacy Committee as well as the county’s Fair Funding group for two years, advocating for fair funding, common core changes, and fair teacher evaluations.

I see the changing atmosphere in our town and neighboring towns and have attended town meetings with regards to this to stay informed. The dynamics of our towns and schools are going to change, and being informed and pro-active will help guide us, protecting and preserving what we all love about our community and our district. Having a board member with experience will help tremendously to do this.

I have been part of securing the project to bring our school structures up to date and allow us to finally have full time kindergarten. All unions are working under valid contracts. We have passed fair budgets with minimum increases in taxes, and continue our search for a new Superintendent.

Should you re-elect me, I will continue to always put our children’s education and opportunities first. I will continue to be a constructive and positive board member who respects the opinions of the other members and shareholders. I will listen to my community and act accordingly within the constraints of the law.

A diverse school board is a better school board, utilizing people from all walks of life in various careers. I do not have any family that works in the district and am independent of any ethical and legal conflicts of interest pertaining to contracts or negotiations.

Thank you for the support and confidence in me or the past 6 years and I hope you will allow me to continue to serve you in the future.

Kevin McIntyre

I moved to Washingtonville 42 years ago to accept a job teaching Science at Washingtonville High School. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Science Education and an M.S. degree in Educational Administration. I have spent 30-plus years training teachers in methods to make them more effective in the classroom. The last seven years I have been traveling throughout the United States and Canada and have worked with thousands of teachers in school districts ranging from inner city school districts to those in rural settings. I am an independent science education consultant for P/NW BOCES in Westchester on their Science 21 Program which services 2000 Elementary Classrooms as well as an adjunct professor and student teacher supervisor for SUNY Oneonta.

As a Washingtonville resident, I have worked with the St. Mary’s Youth Folk Group (early 1980’s) and have been a Boy Scout Leader for the past eleven years. Three years ago I organized a new troop in South Blooming Grove which is now going strong with over 20 boys performing service projects throughout the area.

The school district is currently without a Superintendent. I would like to offer a voice in choosing a leader who can navigate these rough educational times. Our school district had always been a model district attracting families who sought a quality education for their children. This is the primary reason my wife and I bought a home in Washingtonville to raise our two boys. We wanted the best education in the area for our children. My youngest son is currently a junior in 11th grade. Our school district plays a crucial role in attracting homeowners thus affecting the price of existing homes in the community. Quality educational programs are an investment in both our children’s futures as well as our property values.

The educational research shows us that the single most important factor to support and improve student achievement is not any single program we can purchase and implement. The single factor is having an effective teacher teaching our children. Effective teaching is not something that just happens; it is the result of continued training of our classroom teachers. There are new challenges ahead with new state standards in social studies and science. We must provide the training and resources to support our classrooms.

I would like the opportunity to serve you in a different capacity this time. I am asking for your support on May 17.

NECSD Board Of Education Election, Budget Vote May 17

By Mark Gerlach

The polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. For more information visit http://www.newburghschools.org.

Meet The Candidates

Eight candidates are vying for four open seats on the Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Board of Education. Three seats carry three-year terms; one seat is for a one-year term. 

Domenic Tebano is a retired teacher who’s spent 31 years in the district. Tebano coached fencing, soccer and boxing. He received his master’s degree from SUNY Binghamton majoring in Italian literature, and his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany majoring in political science and Italian. On the board of education Tebano hopes to “ensure all students achieve to their fullest potential.” His top priority is to “ensure all students are college, or career ready,” according to the district’s website.

Anthony Hood has spent 12 years in the district and is employed by Fuel Cell Energy. Hood has a master’s in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On the board of education he hopes to “drastically improve the graduation rate at NFA.” His top priorities are to “ensure that all schools are above state standards, so that no school is classified as in need of improvement” and “having all students offered the same opportunities.”

Susan Prokosch is a retired teacher with 68 years in the district. Prokosch has a bachelor’s from SUNY Oneonta and attended graduate school at SUNY New Paltz. She’s served on the following committees: Buildings and Grounds (chair), Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee (co-chair), Exceptional Learner Committee, NFA West Subcommittee, NFA Redesign Subcommittee, Talent Development Subcommittee and the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council. On the board of education Prokosch hopes to “ensure every student in (kindergarten to second grade) be given all the resources possible” in the district’s early literature initiative “that will result in all (students) entering third grade reading on grade level.” Her top priorities are: to support students and give them resources to be successful (e.g., teachers, staff, support teams) and “have short and long term plans for the district, educationally and financially.”

Darren Stridiron has spent 15 years in the district and is self-employed. Stridiron’s company is Heritage Land Surveying. He has an associate of applied science degree in forestry from SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, and has served on the following committees: Curriculum Committee (chair), Policy Committee (chair), Library Committee, Buildings and Grounds, Medicaid Compliance Committee (chair), Early Literacy Committee, Talent Development Subcommittee, Honors Subcommittee, IB Subcommittee, Horizons on Hudson Compact Committee and the Horizon on Hudson Parent-Teacher Association. On the board of education he hopes to expand NFA’s nursing program and ensure “all students are nurtured to expand and develop their talents.” His top priorities are early literacy, parent involvement, accountability and school safety.

Mark Levinstein has 25 years in the district. Levinstein is employed by North Point Carpet Supplies, and has an associate degree from Orange County Community College. He’s served on the following committees: Finance, Personnel, Curriculum, Buildings and Grounds, Library and Compact committees at Temple Beth Jacob and the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County (trustee). On the board Levinstein hopes to “help create better outcomes and opportunities for the children of the Newburgh School District.” His top priorities are to ensure a safe and secure environment for children in the district, so educators can provide “the best education possible” and to make sure students graduate, are college or career ready and “civic-minded young adults.”

Andrew Johnston has spent 42 years in the district. Johnston is an IT manager at Columbia University. He graduated NFA in 1984, and Harvard College in 1988. Johnston has served on the following committees: Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Personnel, Save, Curriculum, Policy and Library. On the board he hopes to “promote improvement in the academic achievement of all students.” His top priorities are: student achievement, fiscal stability and effective communication.

Sylvia Santiago has spent 13.5 years in the district. She’s employed by HyperPointe and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. John’s University. Santiago has served on the following committees: N.E.A.T., Central Compact, NFA Compact, Heritage Compact, Heritage PTO, New Windsor Compact, New Windsor Boy Scout Troop No. 4028, New Windsor Girl Scout Service Unit No. 218, New Windsor Softball League and Friends of Newburgh Crew. On the board Santiago hopes to promote “educational fairness for all.” Her top priorities are: improving district/building communications, ensure policies help students succeed, fiscal responsibility, ensuring buildings/district are welcoming and empowering students to think of the future.

Lissandra Deliz has spent nine years in the district. Deliz is a New York City Department of Education/New York State certified level three teacher assistant/behavioral management special education. She currently transferred to SUNY Orange to finish a degree in education and human services. On the board Deliz hopes to “foster an equitable educational system for all students, with a special focus on (the) traditionally underserved population (of) English language learners and special education. Her top priorities include: equitable education for all students, supporting staff to professionally grow to serve students better and responsible fiscal management.        

NECSD Budget (Proposition 1)

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District budget weights in at approximately $264,314,605. The budget increased about 2.88 percent, or $7,398,336, from last year.

The tax levy is set at $110,792,248, an increase of 0.15 percent, or $165,853, from the 2015-2016 budget.

About $143,471,969 of the budget comes in the way of state aid, followed by $6,050,388 of “miscellaneous revenue” from local sources and $4 million in an appropriated fund balance.

Library Budget (Proposition 2)

Proposition 2 on the ballot is Newburgh Free Library’s budget. The tax levy to support the library is $5,002,500, which will be used to enable the library to provide its free services from the time period of July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017. The library’s proposed 2016-2017 budget is $5,548,752. About $500,000 is made up of grants, state aid, fees, fines and money from its fund balance.

About $2,697,752 will be used for staffing, followed by $1,407,947 in health and retirement benefits, $652,337 in insurance/utilities contracts, $570,549 in materials (e.g., print and e-books, DVDs/CDs/magazines, computer software and online scholarly journals) and $220,500 in equipment (e.g., computers, audio and visual equipment, etc.).

Polling Locations

City of Newburgh

First Ward – Horizons on the Hudson gym

Second Ward – South Middle Schools lower lobby

Third and Fourth wards – NFA Main Campus north cafeteria

Town of Newburgh

Districts 1,2,14,15 – Balmville School gym

Districts 13,16,17,18,24,25 – Fostertown School cafetorium

Districts 3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12,19,20,22,23,27 – Meadow Hill School primary gym

Town of New Windsor 

Districts 1,2,3,4,6 – New Windsor School gym

Districts 7,8,9,10,11,12,17 – Vails Gate School gym

Districts 13,14,15,18,19,22 – Temple Hill School primary gym

Scout Builds Track For Eagle Scout Project

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Boy Scout Tyler Dineen, 14, is building a track at Kristi Babcock Memorial Park in New Windsor as part of his Eagle Scout project. Dineen, a Heritage Middle School student, is coordinating the project and collecting donations from the local community to help make it a reality. (photo by Mark Gerlach)

By Mark Gerlach

Boy Scout Tyler Dineen, 14, is coordinating an effort to build a walking track at Kristi Babcock Memorial Park in New Windsor for his Eagle Scout project.

The path is approximately four-tenths of a mile long, 6 feet wide and 4 inches deep, according to Dineen who was working on the project Monday morning. The path will be made out of asphalt millings.

Highland Stone and BlackRock Excavating Corp. donated time, equipment and personnel to assist with the project. Members of both companies were on hand Monday lending a hand.

“(Tyler ) called me up yesterday and said ‘everybody bailed on me, can you help me?'” Doug Casscles, owner of BlackRock Excavating Corp. said. “He called me out of nowhere. I was like… ‘sure.'” Casscles said when he arrived at 7 a.m. Dineen was already there waiting for him.

Others donations, Dineen said, included: sod cutting from United Rentals, pizza, and bagels from Dunkin Donuts and Hot Bagels. The Town of New Windsor Recreation Department lent equipment, such as shovels, rakes, its dump truck, tractors and other tools, said Dineen, a Heritage Middle School student.

Without donations, the project is likely to have cost approximately $60,000 to $70,000.

For the complete story see the Friday, April 29 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Interim Washingtonville School District Superintendent Named

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Roy Reese was officially named interim superintendent of the Washingtonville Central School District after Roberta Greene’s retirement as the search for a permanent superintendent continues through the spring. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Roy Reese, a retired superintendent of the Goshen school district, has been named interim superintendent of the Washingtonville Central School District while the search for a permanent superintendent continues in the wake of long-time superintendent Roberta Greene’s retirement, board president Bill Santos said at the school board meeting on March 14.

Reese has spent 52 years in public school education, 32 of them with the Goshen school district. He retired from being the Goshen high school principal in 1995, has been an adjunct at Mount Saint Mary for the past 21 years and still currently teaches in the undergraduate and graduate education programs, and has also been an interim high school principal in many area school districts.

Reese expressed happiness at coming to such a stable district and acknowledged Greene leaves some very big shoes to fill. “I am very impressed with what Robbie Greene has accomplished during her time here,” he said. “It’s a secure, exceptionally well run school district, with people who like and trust each other and whose major focus is doing what’s best for the students. The teachers, administrators, and support staff truly understand their jobs.”

Reese officially started on March 15 and will perform his duties until a permanent superintendent is found. The search has been opened up again, with applications being accepted until the end of April.

Gardnertown Observes Black History Month

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In the school lobby, Assistant Principal Beverley Johnson displayed black history books and artifacts.

Gardnertown Fundamental Magnet School observed February as Black History Month throughout the building through various educational activities, projects and historical lessons.

 

Tutors Lend A Helping Hand

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Teri Richardson, Washingtonville High School’s library media specialist and Peer Tutoring Program coordinator, is flanked by seniors Sean Doolan and Emily DeJesus. “Sean and Emily were the program’s first tutors when we started in 2014,” Richardson said. “And now they lead the entire tutor training program.” See story inside. (photo provided)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Washingtonville High School and National Honor Society seniors Emily DeJesus and Sean Doolan announced the success of their school’s Peer Tutoring Program, an innovative agenda they helped spearhead in September of 2014 under the guidance of teacher Teri Richardson.

The Peer Tutoring Program is cutting-edge, DeJesus said, because it helps students struggling with certain subjects by pairing them with fellow students who, simply stated, “have been there.”

“Tutors are selected by their grades in the subjects they wish to tutor,” DeJesus said, “as well as by teacher recommendations, work ethic, reliability, availability and demand for that subject.” She explained that experienced tutors instruct new tutors by showing them how to manage disruptions during a tutoring session, how tomeet the attitude of the student being tutored and how to facilitate the friendliness or approachability of both student and tutor. Available technology consists of Castle Learning, Bozeman and Quizlet.

Experienced tutors also show the newer ones how to gauge personality and learning styles whether physical/kinesthetic, visual, linguistic, or combinations thereof.

For the complete story read the Friday, Feb. 19 edition of the Orange County Post. 

The Influence Of Private Money On Education

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(left to right) Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause, Tim Kremer, chief director of New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA), Robert Lowry Jr., deputy director for advocacy research and communication for the New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) and Sparrow Tobin, Washingtonville teacher and PAC coordinator for New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). (photo by Kelly Walters)

By Kelly Walters

Hundreds of educators, parents and community members attended the Fair Funding for our Schools event this week at Monroe-Woodbury High School, with serious concerns for who is making decisions when it comes to public education. The main issue for both participants of the event and audience members was – wealthy, anti-union investors are able to spend more money, and therefore have more control over policy than teachers unions.

Susan Lerner, executive director of watchdog group Common Cause, gave a presentation on her research into political spending conducted over the course of two years.

“We feel that any New Yorker should be able to understand who is spending money, what kind of money and to whom, to influence public policy,” Lerner said.

Based on the findings of the report, Common Cause has separated the opposing positions of education policy into two categories.

Privatizers are PAC’s, coalitions and individuals who advocate for education reform, and support the development of charter and private schools. These privatizers spend large amounts of money lobbying, in order to influence the education policies that will be made into laws. In 2014, 400 private individuals raised $46.1 million to influence public policy. This is the first time donations from individuals had outweighed those from unions, according to Lerner.

For the complete story see the Jan. 8 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Pro Athlete Discusses Drug Addiction

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Chris Herren spoke about the effects drug use had on his life and basketball career to 600 students at Washingtonville High School. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

The Washingtonville High School auditorium was packed with 600 sophomores and juniors on Dec. 11 for a special presentation on drug use and its impact on one man’s life.

The students’ initial fidgeting and giggling quieted as the ESPN documentary “Unguarded” started, followed by rapt silence and some girls wiping away tears when it was over and Chris Herren himself walked out and took the microphone.

Herren was a high school basketball player from Fall River, Mass. who in the 1990s carried the hopes and dreams of his working-class town on his shoulders. Featured in Sports Illustrated, he went to Fresno State University at the same time he was in the newspapers for cocaine use. His drug use escalated even while his athleticism rose, which to him justified the drugs even though he knew professional recruiters would see him as high risk. By age 21 he attended his first rehab and then went back to Fresno State, watched like a hawk by his coaches. “But no matter how much they watched me,” he said, “it was me who wasn’t watching me, it was me who still needed ‘that something’ to make me what I thought I wasn’t, not just in basketball but in life. Something in me was missing.”

Read the Friday, Dec. 18 edition of the Orange County Post for the complete story. 

Kiwanis Help Expand Kids’ Diction

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Kiwanis of Washingtonville members distributed dictionaries to every third-grader in the Washingtonville Central School District. Here, Betty Ann VanLeeuwen, Peggy Lavery and Linda Standish take questions from students in Christine Goodenough’s class at Round Hill Elementary School. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Members of the Kiwanis Club of Washingtonville distributed free dictionaries to every third grader in the Washingtonville Central School District on three days late last month.

The Dictionary Project was financed directly through the pumpkin and chrysanthemum sale the Kiwanis held in Washingtonville in October, which made it possible to purchase the approximately 300 soft cover trade-paperback dictionaries, which were handed out to all third grade students at Little Britain, Round Hill and Taft Elementary Schools.

Retired Washingtonville elementary school teachers Betty Ann VanLeeuwen, Peggy Lavery and Linda Standish, along with Beth Sweatt, distributed the dictionaries to eager students who happily wrote their names inside the front covers and investigated their books as Betty Ann taught them about what a dictionary is and what it does. “A dictionary is actually an adventure,” she said. “Not just words to look up, but lists of presidents, states, countries and maps. Whole worlds are in there.”

She told the children about Noah Webster and the first dictionary he compiled in 1828, made up of 700,000 words back when there was no standard compilation of American English. She said that we honor his effort by calling dictionaries based on his research “Webster’s dictionaries.” She then elicited responses from the students about what a dictionary could be used for, and the answers came quickly: “Meanings of a word”

“Spelling!”

“Pronunciation!”

“Part of speech!”

Pick up a copy of the Friday, Dec. 4 edition of the Orange County Post to read the full story.