Kids

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Photo by James Gorman

HEARTWARMING FUN

Get out of the cold and catch a performance of the timeless musical classic ‘Annie’ at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. The theater presents its last three performances on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m., Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. and Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. through Jan. 20. Based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, the story follows little orphan Annie on her quest to find the parents who abandoned her on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage. Tickets are $40 adults, $36 seniors, $25 students. Call 724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org. 

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Photo courtesy of Theatre Three

The classic Grimm fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” heads to Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson from Jan. 18 to Feb. 22 with a sensory sensitive performance on Jan. 19 at 11 a.m.

Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, better known as Little Red Riding Hood, takes a thrilling journey through the woods to her grandmother’s house. See what happens when William de Wolf stops at Granny Becket’s for “a bite” and Little Red Riding Hood shows up. Joined by her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, Little Red Riding Hood learns a big lesson about safety in this modern musical telling.

All seats are $10. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

 

 

 

 

Teens from The Chai Center’s CTeen chapter in Dix Hills (CTEEN West Suffolk County) spent the holiday season giving back by collecting toys and wrapping them to be donated to children facing serious medical issues through the organization Chai Lifeline.

 CTeen, the fastest growing Jewish teen network in the world, inspires and facilitates teens who want to give back to their community and environment. Chai Lifeline is a preeminent international health support network for seriously ill children, their families, and communities

Photos from The Chai Center

 

Evy McIntosh. Photo by Bryce Buell

By Melissa Arnold

A natural performer, Evy McIntosh is happiest when she’s on stage or in front of a camera.

The 16-year-old Ward Melville High School junior has already built an impressive resume in the entertainment world, appearing in several shows on the Investigation Discovery channel and Netflix, as well as in supporting roles in films. Beyond that, she’s been in a host of different theatrical plays both in and out of school.

For most teens, that’s where the story would end. But the Setauket resident has big dreams and a heart for others that she wants to share with the world.

Evy McIntosh. Photo by Bryce Buell

Beginning Jan. 17, Evy will join approximately 80 other girls from across the Empire State at Purchase College, where they will compete for the title of Miss New York Teen 2020. It’s the opportunity she always hoped for, but didn’t exactly expect.

“I was always singing when I was little, even if it wasn’t good. Then one day, I can remember watching TV and wondering, ‘How do they do that? How do they get there?’” she recalled. “I told my mom that was what I wanted to do.”

Mom Francine responded as most parents would: We’ll see.

“It was one of those things that just developed over time. Evy started acting when she was around 8 years old, and she became a part of the Performing Arts Studio in Port Jefferson, where she would do acting and voice lessons,” said her mother. “Eventually that led to acting work in Manhattan, and then this opportunity for Miss New York Teen USA fell into our world.”

With years of experience already under her belt and a blossoming professional career in the works, Evy said she was eager to try out modeling work. She thought that the pageant would be a great way to develop skills in that area while getting her name out to talent scouts, who are frequent attendees at pageants.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to learn more about the pageant process, having my hair and makeup done, and picking out dresses. It’s a great way to meet people in the modeling industry,” she said, adding that she already attended an orientation for nearly 80 Miss New York Teen USA participants to learn the ins and outs of pageantry.

The process of narrowing the field to one outstanding teen actually takes three days. First, there’s a private, closed-door interview that allows the judges to get to know each girl in a relaxed, conversational environment. Girls wear professional outfits of their own choosing and talk about why they’re competing.

“You have to prove to the judges that you really deserve the crown. There is a time limit, and I know I’ll need to practice a lot with that because I can ramble sometimes,” Evy joked.

On the second day, all the girls are taught a dance routine and spend time rehearsing. It’s also when they’ll show off their activewear − the teen competition does not include swimsuits − and eveningwear. 

Then, on Jan. 19, approximately 15 semifinalists are revealed onstage during the crowning ceremony. One last walk in activewear and eveningwear will narrow the field to five finalists, who will answer interview questions. The winner will represent the state as Miss New York Teen USA for 2020 and receive a scholarship package.

Each girl has her own unique focus for the pageant that would become her platform if chosen as Miss New York Teen USA. For Evy, her mission is to create “One Community for All.”

“I have two older brothers, Francis and John Paul, who both have severe autism. I’ve also volunteered with the Dew Drop Inn in Patchogue, a place where kids with special needs can get together and have fun. I wanted to use my platform to stand up for everyone who feels different or insecure and give them a voice.”

Jackie Schiffer, founder of pageant consulting firm Commit to the Crown Coaching, has worked with hundreds of clients seeking to hone their pageant skills. Evy connected with Schiffer through an acting teacher in New York City.

“I’m so impressed by the presence that Evy has. Sometimes, teens can struggle with their confidence, but she has great poise, maturity and openness,” Schiffer said. 

With appearances in countless pageants, including top five finishes, Miss Congeniality awards and multiple titles, Schiffer has seen firsthand how participating in a pageant can benefit a young woman.

“Being in a pageant gives you the chance to get to know yourself and figure out how you want to present yourself to the world,” she said. “And goal setting is a big piece as well. It’s great if winning is one of the goals, but it’s also about individual, personal growth. It might be about becoming a better communicator, feeling more confident, developing body positivity or promoting a cause you really care about.”

Schiffer added that she’s excited to see how Evy will make an impact in the future.

“We need role models for young women. Women can sometimes be socialized to believe their voice matters less than others, and Evy wants to help give a voice to others. She’s a great role model for other girls.”

If you would like to support Evy, she is seeking business, professional and personal sponsors to help achieve her goal. Sponsors will be acknowledged in the Miss New York/Miss Teen New York USA 2020 program book. Visit www.gofundme.com/f/evy-mcintosh-miss-new-york-teen-usa-2020 or email fjpe3@yahoo.com for further information.

Stock photo

Time to share the warmth. From now to Jan. 31, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Office Building, 48 Route 25A, Smithtown is hosting a Winter Clothing Drive to help local parishes and neighbors in need. New or gently used items most needed are towels, bed sheets, winter boots, children’s socks, washable blankets and coats, and adult and children pajamas. Please no stains, broken zippers or missing buttons! Questions? Call 631-862-3523.

After experiencing a stroke, Denise woke up to a shower of get well trinkets, flowers and balloons, but there was one item that stuck out to her the most − a handmade card that she could tell was crafted by a child. “The greeting card really made her day. It made her smile and brought her joy,” said her daughter, Nicole Wozny.

Wozny is an art educator at Park View Elementary School in Kings Park. Inspired by the greetings cards, the teacher decided to connect with the local hospital close to the school − St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. She wanted to continue the same momentum by encouraging local students to participate in the art of healing by creating special holiday greeting cards to be distributed during key holidays in December.

“What an amazing feeling for my students to get the chance to enjoy the true meaning of the holidays by sharing their art,” said Wozny.

Many scholars and educators support art in schools as it has been demonstrated to improve self-esteem and confidence as well as cultivate empathy. While the holiday season is considered the most wonderful time of the year, it can be difficult for those healing and recovering in a hospital.

 “I thought how nice it would be, especially for patients who have no one visiting them or thinking of them,” said Wozny. “If every patient experiences a moment of joy from receiving a card − just as I know my mother did − our mission was accomplished.”

 The month-long Park View Greeting Project resulted in the creation of 400 cards, crafted by all the elementary students who were given creative range to inspire patients. 

Third-grade student council member Stella Roosa was thrilled to participate in the project coordinated by their art teacher. “I feel so happy to be able to do something for people − the cards are as special as they are,” said Stella. Another third-grade student council member, Owen Dorsey, added, “This was the best opportunity.” 

“At Park View Elementary we are committed to teaching students about service − so this project was aligned with our educational mission to teach the students to care for their community,” said Principal Kevin Storch. “This project cultivates service and kindness.” 

Park View Student Council students, Stella Roosa, Cassandra Chapman, Alexandra Faralan, Michael Reznick, Gabrielle Keaveny, Faith Hanley, Owen Dorsey, Ella Vicinanza, Samantha Katz, Dylan Schor, Lilah Goldman and Jack Krupp, along with Storch, Wozny and educators Traci Smith and Dana Farrell, delivered the cards on Dec. 13, just in time for the holiday season. 

 “We are very grateful to Mrs. Wozny and all the students at Park View Elementary School,” said St. Catherine of Siena’s President Jim O’Connor. “Their thoughtfulness and inspiring greetings will go a long way in lifting our patients’ spirits, bringing this special season alive through a heartfelt greeting card.”

Pictured with the students, from left, Park View staff member Carol Liguori; Park View Elementary School Principal Kevin Storch; art teacher Nicole Wozny; Park View teachers Dana Farrell and Traci Smith; St. Catherine of Siena’s President Jim O’Connor; St. Catherine of Siena’s Chief Medical Officer Mickel Khlat; and St. Catherine’s Community Outreach Coordinator John Perkins.

Photos courtesy of St. Catherine’s Medical Center

Half Hollow Hills senior writes children’s book celebrating local history
Author Jay Nagpal;

Reviewed by Melissa Arnold

It’s Jay Nagpal’s senior year at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills, and like everyone else in his grade, he’s got a lot to do. There’s classwork to finish, college applications to mail, a social life to keep up and the future to consider. But in the midst of all that, he’s also taken up an unexpected task. 

On Nov. 30, Nagpal published his debut book for children, “Miss Kim’s Class Goes to Town.” The 17-year-old wrote the book in hopes of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for local historical sites with the next generation. The book plays out just like a real class trip, with questions from students and helpful commentary by “Mr. Robert,” an actual historian in Huntington. 

The informative storyline coupled with cartoonish, fun illustrations will capture the imaginations of local children.

What came first for you, the interest in writing or history?

 It was history. From a young age, I was lucky enough to do quite a bit of traveling with my family, and we would always make a point of going to the historical sites or museums in the places we were visiting. We’ve gone to Rome, Paris, London and many other places in Europe that are rich in history. I think being exposed to that at such a young age is what’s given me such a great interest in history now.  

Do you have a favorite historical time period?

It bounces around, but years ago I was very interested in ancient history like you would see in Rome. Later on, I became more interested in the American Revolution, and last year I spent a lot of time focusing on World War II and postcolonialism.  

Why did you decide to write this book?

Last year, I started to see that while I was really passionate about history, a lot of other people just aren’t. In my history classes, I noticed that many of the other students weren’t engaged in the material, and I started to wonder if there was something I could do to engage kids in a meaningful way. I thought that I could create a platform that focused on local history and stir up interest around that for people my age.

Ultimately, I founded the Dix Hills-Melville Historical Association. It was uncharted territory for me, but I had tremendous support from the Huntington Historical Society and the local school district. Robert Hughes from the Huntington Historical Society supported me from the very beginning. I compiled all the important historical sites, landmarks and archives with their help, and created a website that would provide me with a forum to write features and blog posts about history. For example, we just celebrated Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday in May, so it was important to write about that on the website.

Are any of the children in the book named after people you know?

A lot of the names in the book have meaning to me. Early on, one of the students mentions a teacher named Miss Martin. That’s a reference to Karen Martin, who is the archivist at the Huntington Historical Society. Mr. Robert, the town historian, is directly based off of the real Robert Hughes. Dylan is my friend’s brother, whose parents published the book, and some of the other students are also named after friends of mine.  

What was it like to see the book for the first time?

It was a surreal feeling, for sure. After months of going through the entire process of publishing and putting everything together, it was so rewarding to finally see the finished product. 

How long did writing take?

I started over the summer, and the book was published about six weeks ago. A lot of the research had already been done in founding the historical association, so I already had the information I needed.

How did you go about getting it published?

A close friend’s parents actually run a publishing company called Linus Learning, and they were very open to the idea of publishing my book. 

What about the illustrations? Did you do them, or did you work with someone else?

I’m definitely not an artist, and one of the great challenges of the project was finding the right illustrator. I ended up going online and using a service called Fiverr to connect to a very talented illustrator who lives in Sri Lanka. Her name is Thushari Herath, and she really did a phenomenal job. There are a lot of cultural differences between us, so we had to talk about things like what side of the road the bus would drive on, what classes would look like, how people would dress and so on. It took a bit of extra effort, but it was all worth it because she’s so talented.  

What is the recommended age for this book?

Older elementary school kids will probably get the most out of it, starting at about third or fourth grade. My goal was to be as accessible as possible, though, so people older or younger than that shouldn’t feel discouraged to read it.

What’s next for you? Do you want to write more books?

Right now, I’m focusing on finishing up my college applications. I’m looking to stay somewhere in the Northeast that has a strong history program − I’d like to pursue some kind of research track through graduate school and maybe a Ph.D. down the road. I’m not totally sure about anything yet, but that’s what I’m thinking about lately. 

I hope to do something like this book again in the future, especially if it makes an impact on local students.

Where can we learn more about you?

I share information and thoughts about local history at www.dixhillsmelvillehistory.org. 

“Miss Kim’s Class Goes to Town” is available online at Amazon.com, at Huntington Historical Society events and at the gift shops of historical sites around Huntington.

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

The Town of Brookhaven’s annual Holiday Light Spectacular at the Holtsville Ecology Site attracted thousands of visitors on opening weekend, Dec. 7 and 8. 

Visitors walked through the winter wonderland of lighted, festive displays before stopping to take their photos with Santa in his workshop. The show returns on Dec. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22. Hours on Fridays and Saturdays are 5 to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m.

“This is a fun-filled, affordable entertainment option for families who want to come and enjoy the spirit of the holidays,” said Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro. “I want to thank my staff at the Ecology Site for working so diligently to transform the greenhouses and make this event so memorable. Over the years, walking through the Holiday Spectacular has become a wonderful holiday tradition for many families.”

Admission to this event is $6 per person; children 3 and under are free. Discounted tickets are currently available for pre-purchase online at www.Brookhavenny.gov/holiday. Photos with Santa are available for an additional fee. Proceeds benefit the Holtsville Ecology Site and go directly to the feed and care of the more than 100 animals residing there.

The Holtsville Ecology Site is located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville. For more information, call 631-758-9664. Photo from TOB

Above, from left, Sara Freitas, Monica Consalvo and Marlo Pepe;

MAKING THE SEASON BRIGHT

Port Jefferson Middle School students Marlo Pepe, Sara Freitas and Isabelle Chen had the opportunity to read their original poetry during the lantern dedications and opening ceremonies for Port Jefferson Village’s 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival last weekend. 

Middle School teacher Monica A. Consalvo coordinated the event by having students submit their poetry centered around the themes of community, family and Charles Dickens. This yearly tradition allows students not only to be a part of the community event but also to extend learning beyond the traditional walls of the classroom.

Monica Consalvo with Isabelle Chen

Winter

By Isabelle Chen, Grade 7

Presented at Lantern Dedication

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Where nights are filled with colorful lights

And land filled with white gold and plenty of cold

With a huge tree bringing great glee

With joy and peace where all problems seem to cease

Where children are playing and nothing is dismaying

For snow is here and Santa is near

But this beauty is only in one place, for there will only be such beauty and joy in the one place, we call 

Winter,

Where families are brought together, and love is spread.

 

Snowflakes 

By Sara Freitas Grade 7

December comes a near,

And so shall the reindeer.

The holiday season bringing all the cheer.

Snowflakes fall from up above, 

Coming in all shapes to love.

Bewildered in the coldness, 

Remain the glorious reindeer, 

All covered in snow all so perfectly.

The children admire the first snow.

Laughing and giggling,

The sounds of jingle bells jingling, 

soon filling the air with all the happiness one could possibly imagine.

They head outside,

Smiles brighten on their amazed faces, 

Their cheeks bright red from the cold crisp air.

They flock and prance all around, 

Leaving footsteps in the clean new snow.

They throw snowballs for hours, 

Perfecting each ball with care.

The sun begins to set,

Leaving the children baffled from the new coldness.

They said their farewells,

And each headed home for the evening.

Though they were sad to go home,

They were very happy to greet their beloved families with joy.

 

The Spirit of Christmas

by Marlo Pepe, Grade 7

Presented at Saturday Opening Ceremonies

The exhilarating sleigh ride speeds throughout the bright glistening snow

While the carolers sing until the sparkling stars appear

Bright twinkling Christmas lights dance around the Christmas tree

Sparkling memorable ornaments overlook the brightly wrapped gifts waiting to be opened.

Joyful laughter weaves in and out as the warm fire crackles its message about the gift of family 

Amidst this laughter you can smell the new batch of cookies baking just for Santa

Heavy eyelids announced bedtime has arrived

As the sleepy heads make their way to bed you can hear Santa’s sleigh bells echo throughout the midst of night

Off they go into a dream of presents and Christmas pie

To wake up to silver bells, candy canes and the miracle of Christmas.

 

By Heidi Sutton

The holidays have arrived at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts in a most delightful way. While a spunky orphan commands the spotlight in the theater’s current main stage production of Annie, a spirited young girl named Emily stars in the second annual children’s theater production of Ken Ludwig’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. 

Directed by Christine Boehm, the 45-minute fast-paced show with the underlying message “to make life an adventure” is the perfect choice to introduce young children to live theater.

It’s Christmas Eve and Uncle Brierly (Evan Donnellan) greets the audience with a recitation of “the greatest poem of all time,” Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. He gets as far as, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” only to be interrupted by Amos the Mouse (Jae Hughes) who is in fact stirring, cookie dough that is, to make cookies for Santa in hopes that he’ll show up this year. You see, Amos and his best human friend Emily (Lorelai Mucciolo) were left off the Naughty or Nice list last year and never received any presents.

It is then that Calliope the Elf (Lisa Naso) shows up to investigate and, after telling Emily and Amos that many other children around the world had the same thing happen to them, convinces them to accompany her back to the North Pole to tell Santa the troubling news and to save Christmas.

When they arrive at Santa’s workshop, they overhear a former elf, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Donnellan), and his sidekick Mulch (Anthony Panarello), plotting to sell the Naughty and Nice list to retailers just like last year.

What follows is a whirlwind attempt to retrieve the list complete with a surprise appearance from Amos’ brother (the amazing Hughes in a dual role), a hilarious case of mistaken identity, a sword fight, an elf cheer, a visit from Santa Claus (Panarello) and a chase scene through the theater to the Benny Hill theme song. There is no shortage of excitement in this show and the cast does a wonderful job portraying this sweet holiday story.

Booster seats are available and snacks are sold during intermission. Stay after the show for a meet and greet and photos with the cast in the lobby.  

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown presents Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Dec. 15, 22, 28 and 29 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with Shrek The Musical Jr. from Feb. 1 to March 1 and Flat Stanley Jr. from May 16 to June 21. All seats are $18. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org

All photos by Cassiel Fawcett