Volume 3
Issue 2
In This Issue
Students of Distinction Honored by Somers Board of Education
Tyler celebrates with his family

Three Somers students who attend programs at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES were honored recently as Students of Distinction at the Somers Board of Education meeting.

They were Tyler Deodhari and Noah Krantz, both students at the Pines Bridge School, and Marc Maniscalco, a student in the Local School Building Program in Peekskill.

Csilla Mate, principal of Pines Bridge School, praised Tyler and Noah for improving "by leaps and bounds" in their academic and social skills.

Jessica Zamlowski, Tyler's teacher, said "Tyler is very social and enjoys greeting people. His language skills have greatly improved and he has truly grown as a student." Tyler is known as "the mayor" in Pines Bridge because he knows everyone and takes the time to smile and greet everyone. 

Connie Liotta, Noah's teacher in the Transitions program at Pines Bridge, said Noah was "kind, supportive and generous, with a work ethic to beat the band." This year, Liotta said, "Noah was faced with a set of challenges that he has tackled with maturity and grace. He is ready to go forward in the world and make his mark!"

Danielle Camia, Marc's teacher, said "Marc has a great sense of humor and always says to me 'face your fears,'" adding that she had been forced to face her fear of public speaking in order to honor Marc at the board meeting. 

She said Marc had joined a new class of students at Peekskill High School, where he had made gains both academically and socially. "Even though change can be difficult, Marc proved that this change wasn't going to defeat him. Marc embraced the challenge, worked toward his goals and persevered beyond his challenge."

Today, she said, Marc rises to the occasion and conquers any challenge he faces. 

All three students were accompanied by teachers and parents who shared in the celebration. Each student was awarded a certificate of recognition and given a medal in honor of the achievement.

Pines Bridge Graduates 
Eight Students
Anthony Cashman, far right, celebrates his graduation with his brothers

How do you measure success in a class of graduating students? For the graduates of the Pines Bridge School at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, success can be measured in the practical, everyday skills they have mastered, the relationships they have formed and the joy they have shared with classmates, teachers, family and friends. 

Eight students graduated from Pines Bridge on June 17.  After making their way down the aisle, the graduates took their places on the dais with Principal Csilla Mate. Robert Kelderhouse, who retired as principal of Pines Bridge in January, addressed the students after greeting each of them individually.

Christopher Quimby is decked out for a special occasion at his graduation from Pines Bridge

"The Pines Bridge graduates have had many, many challenges that most of us will never understand," he said, adding that they have reached this point in their lives thanks to the love and commitment of their parents, the support of their teachers and their own hard work. "Now, they are ready to embark on the next steps in life."

All seven participating graduates were given a chance to shine, either by speaking to the assembly or being spoken about by a teacher. 

Christopher Quimby was called "a scientist at heart, a news reporter during Thursday New-2-You groups, a mathematician and an avid reading companion" and "all around academic student." Noah Krantz called his classmates "awesome" and thanked his parents and siblings for "being with me through everything." Anthony Cashman noted his work sites at Pepsi, Turcos and Once Upon a Child, thanked his family and said he would miss his teachers.

Pines Bridge teachers use sign language to "sing" the Rob Thomas song, Hold On Forever

Tristan Kirby was lauded as the "class clown" for bringing laughter, humor and joy to the school day. Tristan loves music and roughhousing and has a special bond with Aloha, the therapy dog. Crystal Russ said she had enjoyed her years at BOCES and liked working at TJ Maxx, Sears and the library. She thanked her parents and family for their love and support.  Katelyn Townson said she had learned many skills at Pines Bridge, had enjoyed working in the community and appreciated the love and encouragement of her parents and grandparents. Andrew Beale thanked his family "for helping me to be the best I could be."

Parents and friends celebrated the students for reaching many milestones during their years at Pines Bridge, a school for students with multiple disabilities. A video was shown depicting the students as young children and as they are today. Finally, in a longstanding tradition, the staff at Pines Bridge "sang" the song, Hold on Forever, by Rob Thomas using sign language.

The graduates and their home school districts are:

Andrew Beale, Arlington
Anthony Cashman, Lakeland
Tristan Kirby, Putnam Valley
Noah Krantz, Somers
Ruby Rose Mongil, Pine Plains
Christopher Quimby, Pleasantville
Crystal Russ, Yorktown

The Pines Bridge School serves students ages 5 to 21, using specialized programs that emphasize communication, mobility and independence. 

Walden & Pines Bridge Students Rock the House

Joshua sings "Cool Kids"
It was like "The Voice," "X Factor" and "America's Got Talent" all combined into one as students from the Walden and Pines Bridge Schools rocked the house with everything from classic rock songs to hip hop dances to comedy and even a video display of art.

In Walden and Pines Bridge Schools where differences are celebrated, the ninth annual talent show was open to anyone brave enough to perform.    

Students from Ms. Lopreato's class held up pictures to go with the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and Miss Adams' class performed to "It's a Grand Ol' Flag." Ms. Longo's class danced the "Cha Cha Slide," and Ian and a teacher acted out a scene from the comic strip "Spy Versus Spy."

Jordan sang "I Will Survive," in a strong, clear voice reminiscent of Gloria Gaynor, while David danced like Michael Jackson. Joshua H. reprised the theme song from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" complete with a cardboard taxi cab to show him moving.

Jordan sings "I Will Survive"
A group of boys from Ms. Batto and Mrs. Gonzalez-Delgado's class took the stage and sang "We Will Rock You" while pounding out the beat on the floor until the entire audience was singing along on the refrain. Fiona performed like a seasoned cabaret singer, leaving the stage and serenading the audience with the Colbie Caillat song, "Try."

Ms. Liotta's students did the famous "Chicken Dance." Matthew played guitar and sang, while Billy used his song to bid farewell to his Walden teachers because he will be moving on to another school next year. 

Jonah danced a duet with David to the song, "Down." Kenaye displayed his one-of-kind artwork through a slide show and answered questions about his work in a short Charlie Rose-style interview with art teacher Jesse Steiner. 

"It was great to see them have an outlet to show their talents and gifts and to be able to share them with the people they love," said Andrew Moskowitz, whose son Daniel performed, "New Romantics," by Taylor Swift.

Other performers included: Zachary who made the audience laugh with classic jokes; Andrew who danced to "Best Day of My Life;" Ms. Morris' students performing the song "We're on the Way to Grandpa's Farm" complete with costumes and a barn; Joshua V.  singing "Cool Kids" and playing the keyboard; Alexis singing "Shake It Off;" Mark dancing to "Milkshake;" Jhuleidy singing "Fight Song;" Benjamin dancing to "Make it Pop;" Arturo singing "Stressed Out;"  Brandon dancing to "Bills;" Chris singing "Sugar;" Hannah singing "Has Anybody Seen My Girl;" Anthony C. dancing to "America By Rail;" Benjamin dancing to "Make It Pop;" and Marquize singing "My Girl." 

Alexis sings "Shake It Off"
Group performances included Ms. Lopreato's class doing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"-- Christine, Tarek, Max, Leiloni, Illian, Bryan & Scotty; Ms. Adams class doing "It's Grand Ol' Flag"-Chelsea, Isabella, Katherin, Alessandro, Share and Eric "Blake"; Ms. Morris' class doing "We're On the Way to Grandpa's Farm"-- Angel, Carmen, Mark, Daniel, John, Caleb & Michelle; Ms. Longo's class doing the "Cha Cha Slide"-Ara, Joshua V. , Andrew, Kimi, Jennifer, Bianca and Ivan; Ms. Liotta's class doing "The Chicken Dance"-Lashanda, Jakai, Anthony R., Sonia, Noah, Lindsay & Anthony C.; Ms. Batto & Mrs. Gonalez-Delgado's class doing "We Will Rock You"-Thomas, Frank, Jay, Josiah, Kevin C., Kevin H., Michael with the help of Jonell and Joe.

Debra Canzio, who works with art teacher Steiner to infuse the arts into the school experience at Pines Bridge and Walden, served as emcee, introducing all of the performers and ensuring that everyone had his or her moment in the spotlight.    

Everyone Is an Artist

At the Walden and Pines Bridge Schools at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, art class is about more than producing a work of art. It is about the process.

Take the self-portraits created using empty computer boxes. Rather than discard the boxes from dozens of new computers, art teacher Jesse Steiner used the boxes as the base for students to create portraits using string and glue and paint. The end results were as varied as the students themselves.

Using a flashlight to cast a shadow, each student's silhouette was drawn onto a box. Then the students outlined the silhouette using string that had been dipped into Elmer's Glue. Finally, they added paint and other materials to complete the work. 

"We didn't have a vision of what the end result was going to be. No matter how it comes out, it is a representation of the student," Steiner said. 

Another work of art - two seated figures created from Styrofoam balls covered with paint - was the result of a long-term project that employed a home-made bowling game. Styrofoam balls were placed in large, empty pretzel containers. Paint was added to the containers and then they were arranged and stacked like bowling pins. 

Students bowled amid 1970s music, bowling alley sound effects and an announcer who introduced each bowler. Each time the "pins" were knocked down, the paint inside the pretzel containers was splattered on the Styrofoam balls. In the end, the students created about 400 Styrofoam balls.

As for the resulting sculpture, Steiner said, "I was blown away by the student's artistic vision and his ability to problem solve technical challenges in order to create these two seated figures. What was so gratifying was that we gave him the space to really create something and take ownership of it, and he ran with it."

Other notable work included a collection of clay figures by Evan Wolfsdorf. Evan created the four main characters in the Wizard of Oz, superheroes including Batman and Superman, Peter Pan, Jack in the Beanstalk, and a series of figures representing clothing styles from the 1920s to present.

In all, about 215 students took part in the art show.


Ellen Lane, Editor
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES

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