Volume 4
Issue 1
In This Issue
Artwork by
Aurora Robson

Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES

Ellen Lane,  Editor



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Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog  

Fox Meadow Middle/High School students pet Wiltsy, a bloodhound assigned to the State Police K-9 Unit with Officer Fran Torson.

Fox Meadow students had the chance to meet an 80-pound, long-eared, super sleuth when Wiltsy, the K-9 detective, visited the school in September.

Teacher Patty Lucido invited Officer Fran Torson of the New York State Police K-9 Unit to visit the school with her canine partner in response to questions students had raised in the Forensic Science class Lucido teaches.

"We were talking about methods of evidence collection and one way to gather evidence is to use dogs whose keen sense of smell can track a person for more than 100 miles," said Lucido. "The students said they would like to see one of those dogs and learn more."

Wiltsy, a bloodhound, has been on the job for only eight months, Torson said. But she has already assisted in a number of cases and successfully tracked a man who had run away from a group home. To track the man, Wiltsy relied on the scent from a car key, which was the only item that had not been touched by other people. 

Researchers have estimated that a bloodhound's nose consists of approximately 230 million olfactory cells, or "scent receptors" - 40 times the number in humans. In addition to their highly efficient noses, these dogs are helped to track scents by their long ears, which drag on the ground, collect odors and sweep them into the dog's nostrils. 

Students were fascinated by what it takes to be a police dog like Wiltsy, how such dogs are trained, and how they are used by police agencies. Torson said bloodhounds are primarily used to track missing people like elderly people or children who may have wandered off, or suspected or known criminals fleeing police. They are well suited to the task because bloodhounds can differentiate between the scent of the person being pursued and those trying to catch him or her.  In contrast, she said, German Shepherds, which are also used in police work, will chase the freshest scent.

As for training, Torson said it was all about repetition and reward. 

"She's a dog so she wants a reward," Torson said. Wiltsy's preferred treat is a hot dog and Torson keeps them in the cargo pockets of her uniform when training or working a case with Wiltsy.

Despite Wiltsy's impressive skills and the seriousness of her job, all anyone wanted to do at the conclusion of the talk was get up close and pet her.  

Fox Meadow Students Honored  

Six seniors at Fox Meadow High School were among the honorees at an Awards Breakfast recognizing acheivement and excellent attendance.

Thirty-six students at Fox Meadow Middle/High School were recognized Friday at a special breakfast for "Exceeding Expectations Every Day."
The students were honored for excellent attendance and academic achievement with a pancake breakfast prepared by Fox Meadow staff members. Honorees received certificates for maintaining an average of 80 or above, passing all classes and missing fewer than three days of school since September.
"Students should be recognized for their achievements," said Principal Nicole Murphy. "Small improvements are big improvements and help to build a path to success.  The staff are really proud of the students who are giving it their best effort and since we are a family here, a breakfast seemed a good way to celebrate."
Jaquail Grant, one of the honorees, said "It made me feel great to receive this award and I think my mom will be really happy to see how I am improving." Jaquail added that it meant a lot to know that the staff at Fox Meadow had prepared and paid for the breakfast themselves. "Not many schools would do that for their students," he said.
Fox Meadow senior Dan Box presents award to John Rodak as Principal Nicole Murphy looks on.
Honorees included: James Collins, Raven David, Dre 'Nell Selby, Isaiah Thompson, Jonathan Alexander, Ryan Ortiz, Azure Santiago, Jalyn Arias, Dan Box, John Cabaleiro, Mimi Diaz, Jaquail Grant, Devonte Hudson, Maria Kilmer, Caitlin Madsen, San-Allen Perry, Kyle Pettit, Dennis Pilotti, T'Kyia Powell, John Rodak, Michael Servino, Kevin Sullivan, Colby Kelland, Justin Green, Anisa Hamilton, Andres Virola, Joe Becker, Dean Fejes, Sean Gooden, Patrice Kemp, Max Ramrhiki, Nate Holt, Angel Batista, Nicole Roublick, Justin Cohen and Damani Went.

Thanksgiving Feast at Fox Meadow

In keeping with a long standing tradition, Fox Meadow teachers and staff prepared a Thanksgiving Feast for the students with three different types of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and gravy. "The staff does this for us because they love us and it is mutual," said Qadar Chevalier, a Fox Meadow student from Elmsford.

Dean Fejes Honored as  Student of Distinction

 Fox Meadow student Dean Fejes (left) poses with Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Superintendent James M. Ryan and Walden student, Jonell Rios Losado, at a Student of Distinction ceremony in Putnam Valley.

Putnam Valley's Dean Fejes, an eighth grader at Fox Meadow Middle/High School at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, was honored recently as a Student of Distinction for his hard work, dedication and the values he brings to school every day.

"The teachers at the middle school all agree that Dean is a student every teacher would want to have in class," said Fox Meadow Principal Nicole Murphy, who presented Dean with a medal and certificate at the Putnam Valley Board of Education meeting on November 17. "His peers would describe Dean as a friend due to his sweet and helpful manner."

Teachers said it was a pleasure to have witnessed Dean's growth both physically and emotionally over the past two years.  In short, Murphy said, Dean was the embodiment of Fox Meadow's core values: respect for oneself as well as others, hard work and dedication, and a willingness to be the best version of yourself.

"I think BOCES does a wonderful job," said Jane Fejes, Dean's mother. "It was such a great surprise (to have Dean receive this award) and we are so proud of him."

Dean was accompanied to the award ceremony at the Putnam Valley Board of Education meeting on Nov. 17th by his mother, his father, Joseph, and his brother, Thomas, as well as teachers and staff from Fox Meadow who came to cheer him on for his accomplishment. 

From the time Dean arrived at the middle school, Murphy said "teachers and staff gravitated toward him because of his generosity and light hearted sense of humor." 
Artist Aurora Robson Inspires Fox Meadow Students

Artist Aurora Robson speaks to students at Fox Meadow Middle/High School about her passion for turning trash into art.

One sculpture surrounds a corporate conference room like the tentacles of an enormous octopus or the roots of great tree. Another fills a 40-foot by 40-foot room with tunnels and spires and otherworldly shapes in hues of pink and green and gold. Still another hangs from the ceiling of a giant hall like a petrified snowstorm. 

All of these were created from trash or what artist Aurora Robson likes to call "displaced abundance." Robson recently brought her message and her story to the students of Fox Meadow Middle/High School, and she plans to return later this year to lead the students in making their own art from discarded materials.

A Canadian born artist who has lived in New York for more than 20 years, Robson works primarily with discarded plastic, cutting it, shaping it and painting it. The end result is sculpture that is graceful, dynamic and in many cases evocative of sea life. She came to Fox Meadow last Wednesday at the invitation of art teacher Michael Mueller, who was captivated by her work, her message of environmental conservation and her personal story.

"I went to an alternative high school like you," Robson told the students. "With the cards I was handed, I should have been dead in a gutter. Instead, I am standing in front of you." 

Robson didn't dwell on the challenges she had faced, but instead dove into the incredible path she has taken with her artwork. Conscious of her audience, however, Robson said, "People are wasting all this stuff that has untapped potential just like I bet some of you have untapped potential."

Although Robson's work is deeply satisfying on a strictly aesthetic level, she hopes to use it to make people think about the consequences of discarding so much plastic into the waste stream. Her work has graced the covers of magazines, has been exhibited in museums, and has been commissioned by cities and corporations. 

"My work is largely about transforming something negative into something positive," explains Robson. "People don't care about trash or see value in it, so I take the time to care about it in every aspect. I try to reveal its hidden potential."

Students Earn American Heart Association Cards

Twelve students in Patricia Gallo's Health Class successfully completed the requirements to receive their American Heart Association CPR/First Aid cards.
Heart disease is the number one killer in our country. The goal of the American Heart Association is to increase the number of people who are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, to perform CPR, and operate an AED. These actions increase the survival rate of the 88 percent of people who suffer heart attacks outside of medical facilities.
"Our students took both a written and practical test and feel prepared to act in an emergency," said Gallo. Those students receiving their CPR cards are: Nathan Holt, Angel Batista, Michael Servino, Xiomari Diaz, Jalyn Arias, Colby Kelland, Kevin Sullivan, Cameron Callahan. James Collins, Dre'Nell Selby, Omar Cadona, and Donald Ducady.