Volume 4
Issue 1
In This Issue
Fire Safety at Pines Bridge

Thanks to Yorktown fire volunteer and Walden teaching assistant Wesley Curtis our students had a chance to check out a real fire truck up close. Here, Arturo Cruz gets to see what it is like from the driver's seat. 

Meet Our New Librarian 
Esmelinda Bucchignano
Esmelinda Bucchignano

Esmelinda Bucchignano, t he new librarian at Walden School,  is enthusiastic not just about the fabulous books she gets to share with the students but also about sharing with them the wonders of a library.
"I want to help the students know about libraries and all they offer in addition to appreciating great books and authors," she said gushing over "The Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss books and the ever-popular "Good Night Moon."
"I have the opportunity to make these children lifelong lovers of libraries, which are in every community and offer so much," she added.
The Walden library, which serves students in Walden and Pines Bridge facilities, has some computers and iPods for students to share and is building up its supply of graphic novels and audiobooks so in its own way is trying to keep current with new technology and trends.
Bucchignano has continued the tradition of reading to the students, but has added the element of playing appropriate music to coordinate with the books. For example, when she read stories about rainforests she played music of the sounds of animals and birds.
"I love seeing their reactions," she explained.
With this new position Bucchignano is actually making a return to the BOCES campus. 
She was a classroom aide for four years at the Walden school leaving to take a position in the offices of the Peekskill school district and then stayed home with her children for some years.
"I'm back and I'm here to stay. I love this place - the students are eager to learn and the staff is so warm and dedicated," she said.
Bucchignano has introduced new initiatives to the library: monthly workshop concentrations to engage the students, who at Walden have a diverse set of skills and talents.
In October, Bucchignano focused on teaching students basic Spanish words such as numbers and colors.  In November, she focused on working with puzzles.
Children will just have stop by the library to find out what she has planned for the rest of the year.

Trick or Treat
Pines Bridge students had the chance to trick or treat through neighborhoods created just for them at the School Services Building at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES on Halloween. Students dressed as everything from race car drivers to tea parties made their way through the building where they were greeted by staff dressed as Dr. Seuss characters, cans of playdough and superheroes. 

Jacob Solomon

Kyle Rhoades

Shannel Lewis

Dr. Suess

Ethan Polanco

Mia Panero

Fine Art Meets Theater in 
'Where the Wild Things Are' 
Pines Bridge and Walden students brought the Wild Things to life with the help of some student-created scenery.

The gym at Walden was transformed into "Max's bedroom" recently for the art department's "Where the Wild Things Are" play, from the book of the same name by Maurice Sendak. Students from Walden, Pines Bridge, CLASS and Intensive Therapeutic Support Program (ITSP) acted out the play, with outstanding life-size paintings of the monsters, which students created. 

Art teacher Jesse Steiner and teaching assistant Debbie Canzio spearheaded the project, making it a collaboration of painting, design, music and theater.

"We wanted to jump right into the year with a production, so we started working on the play with the students on September 12,th which was only a couple of weeks into the school year," said Steiner. "Our students worked making characters, sets and props for six weeks. All of the students in our Pines Bridge, CLASS, Learning center and ITSP classes were involved in their own way. Every student had a hand in making our play come alive."

And come alive it did, as the stage was transformed into Max's bedroom, complete with life-sized trees, monsters, and all manner of wild things.

"The closer we got to the date of the play the more excited our students were about who was doing what and how it was all going to work," said Steiner. "I think part of what was magical for the kids was that week to week they saw what they were working on, but they didn't always see the work of students in other classes. So when it all came together on stage with music and a large audience, I think that it really became special for our students."

While the students were instrumental in making the play a success, it took a group effort to make it work. 

"They all helped, but none of them could have done it alone," said Steiner. "While the spectacle of the show was impressive, what lay underneath was a feeling of belonging and the feeling of community and the pride that comes from working together."

Steiner also credits the staff with making the show a success.
"The staff that works with our kids and comes to art every week is nothing short of extraordinary," he said. "They know their students so well and were invaluable in helping our students to participate to their fullest. I also have to credit several staff members who were invaluable with managing some of our sets and insuring that our play came together. A big thank you to: Bob Tapps, Mike Watson, Ann Moreno, Steve Feldman, Tom Oakes, Judy Gillet and Barbara Waldron."  

Making Music at Walden and Pines Bridge

Kathleen Pemble plays guitar while students join in on the electric keyboard and tambourine.

There is nothing quiet about the weekly sessions taught by Kathleen Pemble at Pines Bridge School. 

Students in her music classes shake tambourines, tap on a xylophone and pound on steel drums.   And these student musicians beam with smiles as Pemble leads them with her guitar and melodic voice.

The goal, says Pemble, is to "get students and staff to work together to engage in a musical activity -- to keep a steady beat and stay in the right key.  And it is not always so easy."

"Music, like a lot activities, has a beginning, middle and end," she says. "I want the sstudents to learn to follow a pattern and just do their best and try something they haven't done before."

Arturo Cruz Avellan of Mt. Vernon raised his hand quickly when Pemble called for a volunteer to play the electronic keyboard.  He wanted a jazz sound, and with help, tapped forcefully on C, D and G keys. 

The students were playing the tuneful song, "Put the Lime in the Coconut" that made both students and teachers sway to the beat.

"Good job," said Pemble, bringing a big smile to Arturo's face and getting him to press those keys with a little more confidence.

Holding a tambourine Shannel Lewis of Yonkers took a few tries to realize that she could both tap on the drum part and shake the instrument to make the cymbals jingle.   And it took restraint on her part to hold still until the sound was needed.

When done with the class, Pemble said. "May I have that back?"

"Uh- Uh," Shannel said clutching it. But then she followed instructions and gently handed it back.

Pemble, a singer-songwriter who has a degree in industrial design, has always been drawn to music.  Her mother was a piano teacher and she plays the guitar, piano, bass and ukulele.

But working with students at Pines Bridge is a special passion for her.

"It takes a bit longer to get to know these children and help them to understand that making noise is a good goal.  When there is improvement and they like the sound, it is a great experience for all of us," she said. "They are making intentional choices about what they are playing."

Her class is certainly fast-paced as she moves from classroom to classroom in the building.  Each session is 30 minutes long with five minutes in between.  She rolls into each room pushing a three-tiered cart filled with instruments, tools, pitch pipes and various shaped mallets.

"The students are working on many different skills while engaged in an enjoyable activity. The music program addresses listening and comprehension skills, waiting and turn taking," said special education teacher Judy Gillet. 

"The music program," she added, "offers a multisensory learning experience that is so important for students with disabilities.  It addresses the tactile, kinesthetic, auditory and visual systems in the brain.  It offers a way of communicating for students who are nonverbal."

A school-based fund-raising effort helps maintain this music program.


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Ellen Lane, Editor
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES