FALL 2017
Students at PNW BOCES Schools Enjoy a Special Halloween Event

Pines Bridge students parade from their school to the School Services Building where employees had a Willy Wonka inspired wonderland awaiting them.

Pines Bridge and Walden students went trick or treating on Halloween through a "Willy Wonka" themed candy factory created just for them at the School Services Building at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES on Halloween.

Dressed as superheroes, princesses, clowns, butterflies and more, the students entered the building where they received a "golden ticket" and a treat bag from staff dressed up as characters from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  
The ticket was just the start of the magical outing. The students paraded through the School Services Building, whose halls, cubicles and offices had been decorated to look like every child's favorite candy factory. Staff cheered the students' costumes and gave out donated candy, treats and balloons. 

Student Art Projects Celebrated by PNW BOCES Community  

Art teacher Jesse Steiner (in Groucho Marx disguise) holds up the wheel for a student artist to spin to choose the tool he will use to paint.

When art teacher Jesse Steiner recently brought a few canvasses created during a schoolwide project to the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES administrative building, he expected to hang up one or two. As staff members stopped to admire the work, however, he quickly realized he would need to bring back more canvases.    
"Everyone seemed to want to choose one to hang in their offices or the halls," he recalled. Steiner was struck by the staff's appreciation for the art and the process behind it - and by the strong feeling of community that stretches between the educational and administrative sides of PNW BOCES.
The canvasses that are now being added to the administrative building are certainly striking. What's even more striking is how they were created.
During a month of classes at the Pines Bridge and Walden schools, Steiner and teaching assistant Debra Canzio turned the process of creating art into a "game show" involving all students. Dressed like a game-show host, complete with a fake nose and glasses disguise, Steiner created an exciting atmosphere designed to engage his students.
Each week, students spun a wheel to choose a tool to add paint to a class canvas. The implements included traditional tools such as brushes and ones specially devised by Steiner, such as basketballs attached to rollers or catapults that launched cat toys dipped in paints across the room. As the project went on, the painting tools went from large brushes and rollers involving large-motor skills to smaller brushes and stamps that required more fine-motor skills. 
Introduced by Steiner as if they were guests in a show, the students all had moments in the limelight contributing to their class's canvas. They also spent time "in the audience" supporting their classmates.
"Regardless of the students' goals and needs, and their functional level, we were able to target our instruction to make it appropriate," Steiner said. The project challenged the students in many areas including motor skills planning, language and communication, attention to a task and appropriate participation in a group.
"The kids were having so much fun, however, they didn't perceive it as educational," Steiner noted. The fun atmosphere helped students feel more comfortable about picking up a tool and helping make a piece of artwork come alive.
Art Teacher Jesse Steiner and Assistant Debra Canzio with some of the tools of the trade.

"When they can be 'in the moment,' that's when the magic happens," he said. "They're not thinking about something that upset them earlier or a task they don't want to do later in the day."  

While Steiner and Canzio tweaked each week's activity to ensure that individual students were working on their educational goals, they also had a larger aim in mind.
"We wanted all of the students to feel a sense of pride in their creation," he said. "We wanted them to feel a sense of belonging, of being part of a community, and this is the type of project that helps create that feeling." 

Fire Truck Visits 
Walden &  Pines Bridge

From left, Wesley Curtis, behavior management  specialist, at Walden School; Luke Geocos; Alicia Mitchell; Ryan Gotto; Hannah Kachevsky; Benjamin Cerreno, and Jessica Wheeler.

A bright red fire truck pulling onto a school campus is usually cause for alarm. But not so, when Wes Curtis is in the driver's seat.
Curtis, a behavior management specialist at the Walden School and a nearly 40-year veteran of the Yorktown Fire Department, makes it his business to bring one of the department's pumper trucks to the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES campus each fall so students at Walden and Pines Bridge Schools can get an up-close look.
This year's visit did not disappoint. Students from both schools were able to check out all of the equipment and controls, as Curtis explained how everything worked. A firefighter's helmet turned out to be a big hit, with many of the students trying it on for size.
Curtis has brought the truck to the BOCES campus for many years and strongly believes that every student should have the opportunity to see a fire truck up close. He said the best part of the annual visit was "seeing the kids smile."

Pines Bridge Students Enjoy Annual Thanksgiving Feast

Alexis Aguiar, center, enjoys food served by District Superintendent Dr. James Ryan at the Pines Bridge annual Thanksgiving Feast

As they recently celebrated the annual Thanksgiving Feast at the Pines Bridge School, several students looked up from plates piled high with turkey, stuffing, baked ziti and sweet potatoes topped with crispy marshmallows to answer the question, "What are you thankful for today?"

"I'm thankful for the staff," said Lashanda Crosby, "and thankful I got to help today."

"I'm thankful I came to school today, because I love the food here," classmate Jhuleidy Rivera said.

Looking over at the teachers, aides and other staff still serving students the many dishes they had prepared, student Erin Ledwith said, "I'm thankful for all the food they made us."

Lashanda Crosby and Anthony Reda carry notes on all the things they are grateful for to the Thanksgiving Feast

For about 25 years, staff at the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES school in Yorktown have marked the Thursday before Thanksgiving by cooking and bringing in trays of turkeys, side dishes, pasta and mac-and-cheese, along with pies and other desserts, for a school-wide celebration. Teacher Connie Liotta said the day is mostly about the food - after all, it is a "feast" - but it also offers a chance for students to work on important socialization skills. Some students, including those in her class, also helped decorate the tables set up in the school gym with pumpkins, paper turkeys and other symbols of fall.

"It's just a wo nderful tradition," she said, "and there's a lot to be said for tradition."

Especially at Thanksgiving. 

Ellen Lane, Editor
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES

Stay In Touch

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Pinterest