Tree And Menorah Lighting Kicks Off Holiday Season


Massapequa Park officially started the holiday season in the village on Saturday, Nov. 28. A little rain was not going to get in the way of watching the 2015 Massapequa Park Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony, a wonderful tradition that many people come to enjoy each year.

The streets were filled with holiday cheer as the Massapequa Chiefettes and the cheerleaders performed. Lining the sidewalks in town are illuminated and decorated houses, ready for the holidays.

Children played in the streets and enjoyed drinking hot chocolate. Frosty the Snow Man and a reindeer gave out candy canes to all the children. Holiday music was a beautiful added touch to really make it feel as if Hanukkah and Christmas were really just around the corner.


Daniel, Nick, Kyle, Regina, Denise & Jess enjoying hot chocolate.


Katie McCarty, Kaitlyn Baydian, Julia Cronan, Leo Cronan, Colleen Compitello and Caleigh Boody.


The Buckley family with 7 month-old Lilianna.


Frosty poses for a picture with Madeline Horrigan, Makayla Burke, Gianna Petito and Emma Burke.


The Broderick family: Debbie, Tim, Timmy and Jack sitting in front of the Menorah waiting to see it lit up.


The Hartman family heading over to watch the cheerleaders perform.


The Morisi family enjoying hot chocolate.


The Massapequa Chiefettes.


Massapequa High School Cheerleaders

TreeLighting_120215K “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuakkah,” said Mayor Jeffrey Pravato as he stood in front of the crowd. His holiday wishes were met with loud cheers as residents enjoyed the evening.TreeLighting_120215M

POW Chair Donated By Local Doctor


Altadonna is pictured with Nassau County Legislator James Kennedy (seventh from left), Mayor Jeffrey Pravato (back row center right), State Senator Michael Venditto (sixth from right), New York Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (seventh from right), Massapequa Park Village trustees, Dr. Cynthia Paulis (center) and the members of VFW Post 7763 for this memorable occasion that honors the memory of our veterans. (Photo by Steven Giannitsis)

In celebrating Veterans Day to honor those who served, Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr., recently visited with the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) 7763 in Massapequa Park Village Hall where the Post hosted a special ceremony, dedicating a POW/MIA Remembrance Chair donated by Dr. Cynthia Paulis.

The VFW supports programs, which help raise awareness of the sacrifices that our nation’s veterans have made. As well, the VFW promotes citizenship, education, volunteerism and youth programs. The POW/MIA Remembrance Chair that Paulis was kind enough to donate, honors the brave veterans who were captured or lost in their service to protect the country.

Mr. Richard Begandy, Korean War veteran commander of the VFW post 7763 and Massapequa Park village trustee arranged for the ceremony which was held at the village hall. Marine Sergeant Paul Masi, Vietnam veteran and Bethpage resident brought the first POW/MIA chair to Nassau county attended. Dr. Cynthia Paulis, Massapequa Park resident and a veteran who served four years as a military physician. The chair will remain permanently on display in the Massapequa Park village hall at the front entrance.
—Submitted by the Town of Oyster Bay

Budding Botanists

UQE Budding Botanists

Unqua Elementary School students study the science of botany.

Third-grade students at Unqua Elementary School had lots of opportunities to hone their science skills by predicting, classifying, measuring, observing and more during the “Budding Botanists” enrichment unit taught by Loree Moran. Students classified seeds they collected according to properties they determined and then observed them. As tree “detectives,” they learned to measure diameter and circumference, and then predicted and observed information about the life of the tree.



Pack 776 Visits Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

On Nov. 8, families of Pack 776 hiked through Caleb Smith State Park Preserve. Scouts were led through trails by Shari, from the GreenScouts_112515Abelt Trail Conference. Naturalist Mindy Block of brought a Red Tailed Hawk named Spirit and his handler Tony. [Read more…]

Friends Of Massapequa Preserve


(Photo by Lisa Schary)

On Nov. 12, the Friends of Massapequa Preserve hosted their 16th annual open meeting at the Bar Harbour Library. Welcoming the large number of enthusiastic members who attended, president Richard Schary began the meeting by recalling how bad conditions were in the preserve when the all-volunteer organization first started in 2000.
The group was disturbed by the vandalism, dumping, litter, fires, homeless people and overall neglect throughout the preserve. Visitors were upset by what they observed, but didn’t know what to do or who to contact about it. That’s when a group of concerned citizens got together to form a “friends” group, with one main mission—to protect, preserve and restore the Massapequa Preserve. [Read more…]

Lockhart Collaborates With Pen Pals To Write ‘Get Well’ Cards

Pen Pals

Lockhart third-graders display the ‘get well’ cards they made for hospital patients.

Lockhart Elementary School third graders, in collaboration with their pen pals from Denton Avenue School in Herricks School District, created “get well” cards for patients at the North Shore LIJ Plainview Hospital for their “Get Well Card Program.”

“The children hope that this small gesture may have a big impact on a patient’s day,” said teacher Connie-Jo O’Neill


Town Of Oyster Bay Announces Annual ‘Toys For Tots’ Drive

Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony D. Macagnone joined with Town Councilman Chris J. Coschignano to announce the annual kick-off of this year’s “Toys for Tots” collection drive, which will run through Dec. 15, in an effort to collect new, unwrapped toys to be used as gifts for children throughout the community.

“Under the direction of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, the Toys for Tots Drive follows a mission  to help ensure that children in need within our area do not have to go the holiday season without something to bring them happiness,” said Coschignano.

“By helping those in need experience the wonderful embrace of the holiday season, contributors will get to play an active role in bringing happiness to one of our nation’s most valuable resources for the future, our children,” added Macagnone.

For those who wish to donate to “Toys for Tots,” collection boxes can be found in the following town facilities: Marjorie R. Post Community Park Community Center (Unqua and Merrick Roads, Massapequa); Oyster Bay Town Hall North (54 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay); Town Hall South (977 Hicksville Rd., Massapequa); Department of Public Works Facility (150 Miller Place, Syosset); The Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center (at Bethpage Community Park 1001 Stewart Ave., Bethpage); Ellsworth W. Allen Town Park Community Center (Motor Avenue, Farmingdale) and Syosset-Woodbury Community Park Community Center (Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury);  William P. Bennett Community Center ( West Carl Street, Hicksville); The Town of Oyster Bay Hicksville Athletic Center (South Broadway, Hicksville) and the North Massapequa Community Center (North Albany Avenue, North Massapequa).

For more information, contact the councilmen or co-chairs of the collection drive at 516-624-6619 or 516-624-6305. You can also visit

—Submitted by the Town of Oyster Bay

Board Continues To Address Sixth Grade Move

Massapequa’s Board of Education attended a work session with Superintendent Lucille F. Iconis that included a panel of experts to address the social/emotional appropriateness of a sixth grade move into Berner Middle School. Iconis focused on which mindset the district wants to embrace, fixed versus growth.

“A growth mindset changes and develops constantly and is related to opportunities,” she said. “This district prides itself on improvement.”

Back in the early 1990s, an Advisory Task Force was convened on grade configurations. The recommendation was to move grade six into the middle school, but the building could not accommodate the increase of students. With the decline in enrollment, a new advisory task force was formed two years ago to examine successful secondary models and reconfiguring the district’s instructional program. The task force unanimously recommended a 6-8 model, which is prevalent across Long Island. The recommendation was not accepted with two trustees abstaining for further information.

Iconis presented the board’s goals this September with an objective to provide multiple opportunities and systematic support for students to build strong post-secondary credentials. She made several recommendations including to research the re-configuration of the middle school once again.

The panel consisted of district psychologists with 70 years of combined experience across all academic levels to speak about the social emotional needs of young adolescents. Dr. Deering, Dr. Doring and Dr. Neary reviewed 12 key educational practices to meet early adolescent development, which centers on providing a safe school environment with strong adult role models to help guide students in developing a sense of self to make constructive decisions. The more young teens are offered various learning and social opportunities, the more it fuels motivation and better equips them to forge strong peer relationships. The school setting and strong family involvement is instrumental in facilitating social/emotional growth to develop strategies for conflict resolution, goal planning by observing and reflecting, developing empathy and building skills for interpersonal relationships.

Paul Weber, executive assistant guidance, reviewed the student transition to Berner, which currently includes parent and student orientations, video conferences, visits for plays/programs, Tour the Schedule opportunities and small group counselor meetings that focus on organization, study skills and stress management. Support resources for students include guidance counselors, psychologists and a social worker.

“Motivating them and giving them the capacity to contribute is very important for them now and their college transcripts later,” he said of students’ opportunities.

Detective Pamela Stark from the Nassau County Police Community Affairs office presented comprehensive programs to educate students to make good decisions in response to the substance abuse epidemic. “Too Good For Drugs” for K-12 students and “Impact” for middle/high school highlights the effects of poor decisions.

To round out the panel, Jamie Bogenshutz from YES Community Counseling Center reviewed the current trends minimizing risks facing youth. Bogenshutz has been working in the surrounding community for close to 40 years as a clinical social worker and credentialed alcohol/substance abuse counselor. She stated that protective factors far outweigh risk factors and students who are afforded opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities are less likely to engage in substance abuse. She could not site any research that stated that a 6-8 middle school model raises the risk of substance use.

“Being near older children will not necessarily impact upon a child’s decision to use; it is far more complicated than that,” she said. “It’s more about building a solid emotional foundation and keeping our children engaged, ensuring they feel loved and connected.”

Vive La France, Believe For Beirut


Art by Jean Jullien

There is not enough space in this paper to write about the sorrow, anger and grief that people are feeling after the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, France, that killed at least 132 people and injured more than 300. The day before, a double suicide bomb attack killed 43 people in Beirut.

A perfectly executed timing of mass destruction shook the grounds of the France’s capital when a bomb went off during a soccer match at the Stade de France, a concert at Bataclan and several restaurants and cafés in the 10th and 11th arrondissement.

The news was all too familiar for New Yorkers, who were instantly transported back the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Islamic State proudly took responsibility for both country’s massacres, as the rest of the world began to execute safety measures and plot a course of revenge.

For those in Paris, Facebook launched a check-in feature for users in the city, allowing them to notify friends and family that they were safe. The site also allowed users to filter their profile pictures with the French flag, but did nothing for those in Beirut, who felt overshadowed and forgotten.

But it is not enough to post #prayforparis or send empty condolences in the form of 140 characters. During this time of thanks and giving, those who truly want to help should consider donating more of themselves.

For those near Europe, blood donations are needed for the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, who are coordinating relief efforts in France and Beruit. French Popular Relief is accepting clothing, money and material assistance for those in France as Mercy Corps is accepting money and material assistance to provide to Lebanese victims.

The City of Lights was dimmed for a little while, but now shines brighter than ever. Pray for Paris and believe for Beirut.

A Queen With A Cause


Emily Sciaretta was recently named Ms. Wheelchair New York 2016

“God made me a fighter since birth,” said Levittown resident and newly named Ms. Wheelchair NY USA 2016, Emily Sciarretta. Born at just 24 weeks, Sciarretta’s life has not been an easy one. At the age of 28, she was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation 1—a condition in which the bony space enclosing the lower part of the brain is smaller than normal—before having a number of brain surgeries. And so began her new journey in life. [Read more…]