A Very Cool Club for Kids

Playing for the team

With 85 degree weather outside you are probably thinking more along the lines of ice in your Margarita than under your skates. However if your child wants to play hockey next year then you are going to want to consider pulling out those skates because the tryouts are coming up in early June for The Northport Huntington Ice Hockey Club (NHIHC). The NHIHC has got the perfect game for those kids who are looking for more out of ice hockey then just a recreational league, but do not have the time, money or desire to join a travel league.

NHIHC is non-profit and the fees depend on how many kids join the team. Last year’s varsity fee was $1,300 for a season which consisted of ice time for practice and 20 games. The freshman team ran $1500 with a longer season of 27 games. The hockey season goes from September through March. Compare this with upward of $4,000 for a decent travel team if you can find one and it’s a cool deal.

The high school teams are made up of students from Elwood, Northport, E. Northport, Harborfields, Huntington and parts of South Huntington.  The practice takes place at the Dix Hills Ice Rink and the games are held in Hauppauge.

Within the high school club they have also initiated a developmental program to try and give an opportunity to the young kids who really love ice hockey to pump up the level a little and compete. The kids love it and usually are too tired to come home and fight with their siblings after a good competitive ice hockey game hence parents are giving it a thumbs up as well.

Bonding with the big guys

The VT spoke with president, coach and ice hockey lover Frank Coyle to get a perspective on what a parent would expect their child to learn from the sport. Frank has played hockey since high school and he feels that learning the skills are important but much like other team sports the value is in the real life lessons that kids take away.  These are things such as, discipline, commitment, learning how to win and the most important life lesson, that everybody has an important role. What’s unique to NHIHC is that the teams are made up of children from multiple school districts, which teaches them sportsmanship when their school teams begin playing against each other. They could be playing football or soccer against a hockey teammate, which makes for tolerance and understanding of peers and differences.

Maybe I'll just stay here

We asked Frank if it’s hard play with the high school teams if you are a teenager who has never skated before. “Yes and no“, he said.  It’s certainly easier if you are comfortable with skating. Nonetheless they had a senior boy go out for the team this year that had never skated before.  The coaches decided to give him a shot as an alternate with the understanding that he may never see ice time.  This boy was determined and practiced hard.  The two teammates above him were out on injuries in the very beginning of the season so this newbie played the entire season and scored goals and became an equal team player.  Frank said that the coaches were probably even more excited about this than the boy because they understood that he will hold on to this accomplishment and carry it with him forever.

Skill like you've never seen

Thanks to Frank Coyle for the great photos!

Poetry in Motion, Not Just for Subways Anymore

Glenda Jackson with Huntington Township's young poets

Fifteen poets from local high schools were recognized yesterday as winners of the Town’s 2010 Poetry for the HART competition, earning them certificates from members of the Town Council and the display of their works on buses in the Town’s HART system.

The 15 winners, as well as eight receiving honorable mentions, were selected from among 211 poems submitted, the highest since the program, part of the Town’s Public Art Initiative, began in 2003.

“It is particularly fitting that the Town’s Public Art Initiative recognizes the creative achievements of teens in our community in addition to the work of professional artists,” Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said.

Noting the large number of entries, Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said,  “We appreciate everyone who shared with us their creative efforts; to us they are all winners.”  Councilwoman Susan Berland agreed, remarking, “It is wonderful to see so many of our teens express themselves creatively; poetry, and the arts in general, can help teens to discover themselves and their own unique voice.”

The winners received their certificates at a ceremony held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. They also participated in a poetry reading with adult poet mentor Michael Cirelli.

“The participation of poet Michael Cirelli – supported by Teenspeak, the program’s Co-Lead Agency – adds an additional note of distinction to the evening’s festivities in honor of the accomplishments of our teens,” Councilwoman Glenda Jackson said.

Cirelli is the author of Vacations on the Black Star Line (Hanging Loose, 2010) and Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Hanging Loose, 2008), which was a NY Times poetry bestseller from an independent press and featured in the Debut Poets issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.  He is the Executive Director of one of the nation’s largest youth literary arts organizations, Urban Word NYC, and has also authored two award-winning curricula, Poetry Jam (Recorded Books, 2010) and Hip-Hop Poetry & the Classics (Milk Mug, 2004).  As a performer, he has been a National Poetry Slam finalist and was featured on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam and Brave New Voices.  He lives in Brooklyn.

Poetry for the HART is a Huntington Public Art Initiative developed by the Town’s Public Art Advisory Committee in conjunction with Teenspeak, Co-Lead Agency, which suggested the project to the Town.  Teens in the community from ages 14-18 were invited last fall to submit poems for consideration in the program.  This spring a selection panel comprised of Nassau County Poet Laureate Gayl Teller (Plainview), poet Anna DiBella (Huntington), and Huntingon Public Art Advisory Committee members James Metcalfe (Huntington Station) & Claudia Gomez (Deer Park) reviewed the 211 different submissions. Additional partners in this project included Heckscher Museum of Art; Huntington Arts Council; The Long Islander, which has pledged to publish the winning poems; REACH CYA; Town of Huntington Youth Bureau; Tri-Community Youth Agency; the award reception host – Walt Whitman Birthplace Association; and Youth Directions & Alternatives CYA, as well as numerous area teachers who actively encouraged their students’ participation.  Subsequent to the ceremonies, colorful placards, each bearing one of the winning youth poems, will be placed in the interior advertising spaces on buses throughout the HART system.

Councilman Mark Mayoka commented, “The fact that this teen poetry will enrich the lives of all our HART bus riders, including the many senior citizens and people with disabilities who depend upon these transportation services, is emblematic of the universal impact that public art can have on a community.”

The teen poets and the works selected for display are:

·        Holly Blakely, Different, Broken, Beautiful, Better (Huntington High School)

·        Alec Buchholtz, Hungry Is Thy Beast (Harborfields High School)

·        Andrew D’Anneo, The Procrasti-Nation (Harborfields High School)

·        Chris Gabriel, The Crack of the Bat (Harborfields High School)

·        Danielle Giangrasso, Beauty Does (Huntington Youth Bureau, Project Excel)

·        Sara Ging, A Demimonde’s Dilemma (Walt Whitman High School)

·        Bridget Greene, Summer Lacrosse (Harborfields High School)

·        Sarah Han, An Old Snapshot (Half Hollow Hills High School West)

·        David Hendler, Toothpick:  The Forgotten Hero (Harborfields High School)

·        Chantal Lee, Transportational Destructions (Half Hollow Hills High School West)

·        Keith May, Thinking (Walt Whitman High School)

·        Jeena Moss, Readers (Harborfields High School)

·        Maya Perry, Bittersweet Big Sister (Harborfields High School)

·        Shanika Powell, Autumn (Walt Whitman High School)

·        Jonathan Wertheim, Pariah (Harborfields High School)

In addition, the following poets were selected for Honorable Mention:

·        Emily Brandsdorfer (Half Hollow Hills High School West)

·        Anna Grammersturf (Harborfields High School)

·        William Johnson (Walt Whitman High School)

·        Ryan Logrieco (Harborfields High School)

·        Najeeana Mirabeau Smith (Upper Room Christian School)

·        Sarah Reichert (Harborfields High School)

·        Rebecca Silverman (Huntington High School)

·        Casey Singer (Huntington High School)

The text of the winning poems is available upon request.  For further information on Poetry for the HART or other Town of Huntington Public Art Initiative projects, contact John Coraor, Director of Cultural Affairs, at 631-351-3099 or via e-mail:  jcoraor@town.huntington.ny.us.

In the top photo: On behalf of the Huntington Town Board Councilwoman Glenda Jackson (rear) recognizes Poetry for the HART winning poets (Middle row, left to right): Keith May (Walt Whitman High School), Jonathan Wertheim (Harborfields High School), David Hendler (Harborfields High School),  Andrew D’Anneo (Harborfields High School), Alec Buchholtz (Harborfields High School), Chris Gabriel (Harborfields High School) (Front row, left to right):  Shanika Powell (Walt Whitman High School), Jeena Moss (Harborfields High School), Maya Perry (Harborfields High School), Sarah Han (Half Hollow Hills High School West), Sara Ging (Walt Whitman High School) (Not pictured): Holly Blakely (Huntington High School), Danielle Giangrasso (Huntington Youth Bureau, Project Excel), Bridget Greene (Harborfields High School), Chantal Lee (Half Hollow Hills High School West).

Shoes Going Green

Shoe with a green soul

The VT received a request for your old shoes to be dropped of by this Sunday, May 2nd:

Souls4 Souls (Soles 4 Souls)  is a fabulous non-profit organization that collects and distributes new and gently used shoes to those in need locally and globally.

Soles 4 Soles offers a simple way to help reduce the strain on our environment: by donating your “gently worn” footwear to people in need instead of throwing them away. Last year alone, Americans discarded more than 300 million pairs of shoes. When these shoes break down in our landfills, the toxic glue that holds the shoes together can leak into our water supply and atmosphere.

Soles4Souls can save your shoes from early death by cleaning them and shipping them to needy people around the world, who will treasure the gift for years to come. Since its inception following the Asian tsunami, Soles4Souls has distributed over 8 million pairs to people in 125 countries, their efforts have been publicized in thousands of articles, including the Green Guide by National Geographic and Runner’s World.

Kehillath Shalom in Cold Spring Harbor is currently running a Soles 4 Souls shoe drive.  Most of our closets are filled with shoes we rarely wear. Instead of dropping the unwanted pairs in the trash, consider dropping off any unwanted shoes between now and this Sunday at Kehillath Shalom 58 Goose Hill Road, Cold Spring Harbor. across the street from Goosehill Primary School and the District Offices)  Your probably driving by anyway, and a little bit of spring closet cleaning never hurts!

So bring your shoes, be Green and help out needy souls!

Lightening the Load for Our Soldiers

Christin Griskie

Some leaders are born women and Centerport resident, Christin Griskie is one of them. Christin recalls that first day of the Iraq war in March of 2003, when she was in the kitchen listening to her son Christopher memorize Psalm 121.  “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.” This was the day her project for the armed forces began. She remembers turning to Christopher and impulsively asking him if he would like to draw some army guys and make a book  to send them and he said, “Sure ma will you pay me twenty bucks?” Christopher agreed. She laughs and says that he jokes with her now that he’s in ninth grade and she still hasn’t paid him the $20.  Since the inception of the Iraq war, Christin and her family have made it a labor of love to send our military overseas artistic books “as a show of gratitude and respect and thanksgiving of the service that they have given to us.“  Christin and her family are currently working with 1,100 kids, adults and veterans  to create their fourth book, The Golden Soldiers Rock, based on of Psalm 144 which talks about the Lord being the soldier’s rock.  The book’s title reflects U.S. landmarks such as Mt. Rushmore,  the White house, Golden Gate Bridge, etc..”Precious things that matter to the kids are in the book”, she said. It will contain veteran’s memorial pages as well. For instance, the book will include a drawing of Molly Marin, a Huntington Station Marine who served in 1943 that is based on a photograph of her  when she was in the service.

The Golden Soldier’s Rock Project is hoping to print 140,000 copies for our men and women overseas.  In order to accomplish this the project needs to raise $137,000.   There is much fundraising to be done with just $6000 in the bank at the moment. Christin is optimistic and says they will just print as many as she can.  In addition to taking care of her kids and working Christin has taken on this laborious project saying she is motivated by the children and the community and the generosity and love that they have offered.  If you would like to make a donation of any size please visit their website. The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport is supporting Griskie’s project by donating $3.00 from every ticket for the upcoming Seussical performance to  The Golden Soldier’s Rock.  Seussical will be performed May 15th and 16th.  Suessical tickets are available by calling the theater.

Photo courtesy of the "Golden Soldiers's Rock"

JAI Swap March on Town Hall Redux

Meryl Otis Kessler leads the charge

Roughly 60 adults and children marched from Hecksher Park to Huntington’s Town Hall today carrying signs asking Town Council members to trade locations with the children in Jack Abrams Intermediate School (JAI) in order to keep the children safe and at the same time reverse the deterioration of Huntington Station.   Meryl Otis Kessler, a mother of two in the district, led the procession, which included the three Board of Education officials who have been most vocal about their safety concerns for JAI students.  The trustees marching today were John Paci, Rich McGrath and Liz Black who all voted “No“  to keeping children in the school for a unified sixth grade center.   They were overruled by the other four trustees who voted in favor of moving all sixth graders in the district to JAI and putting all 4th and 5th graders into Woodhull Elementary.

BOE members John Paci and Liz Black say move the JAI kids to Town Hall

Although the mission was serious the tone of the rally was positive.  Many people have found new friends over the past school year, united by the common goal of providing the district’s children an excellent and safe education. Meryl Otis Kessler, with bullhorn in hand, made it clear that today’s march was all for the town’s children and took the opportunity to speak to the children in attendance about the importance of doing the right thing, standing up for what you believe and told them that they will be safe because their parents and community are doing everything they can to ensure a safe school environment.  The children responded with cheers and games of tag and trying to get themselves on TV or in the papers.

Kids rally

Meryl spoke for about ten minutes reiterating why the residents found themselves once again on the front lawn of Town Hall. “We are here today for one reason and one reason only, the safety of our school community. Not school AND community but school community because they are one and the same” she said. She named each town Council member asking for them to hold to their promises of stemming the crime and violence in Huntington Station and keeping our children safe. She added, “keeping them at JAI is not our option!”  She called out to the Town,”We are the only school in this district whose children cannot go outside for gym class the only school whose field is occupied with police presence during recess, the one school in our district that requires police presence at arrival and dismissal”. Councilman Mark Mayoka came outside to talk to residents at the rally. At Mayoka’s community meeting on Wednesday night at JAI, Mayoka stated that he has absolutely no problem moving his office into JAI and the town currently has an architect undertaking a feasibility report to determine if moving JAI students to Town Hall is feasible or not.

Meryl made a promise that these parents and concerned residents will keep the pressure on the Town because, “pressure makes diamonds and this town can be a diamond.”   The rally responded enthusiastically to Kessler’s speech.  In conclusion, Meryl proclaimed,  “We are energized and we will not rest until our children are safe.”