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Acting students perform a scene at Take 2 Actor’s Studio in Huntington. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

Huntington residents should get ready to break a leg, with the opening of a new acting studio in town.

Regina Schneider, 46, an actress and acting teacher, is set to open Take 2 Actor’s Studio in Huntington this September. Her studio offers eight different classes, including intro to acting, acting on camera, television crime drama intensive, college auditions, kids character builders and private coaching. Classes meet weekly or by appointment.

But these classes are not just for the seasoned actors in town. The owner said she encourages everyone to take an acting class, regardless of their experience.

“I welcome anyone to come in because I feel like as humans, we need to connect,” Schneider said in an interview. “We all have a voice. And we all deserve to have our voice heard and our stories told.”

The studio is located in a rented space from LaunchPad, a company that provides resources for startup businesses to grow.

Two classes are set to start in September: actor’s gym, a course designed for adults with basic acting knowledge, and teen scene, where teenagers get to learn about acting.

“My plan is to have everybody working every night,” Schneider said, explaining why she wants to keep no more than 12 students in each of her classes. “Every time they come to class they have an exercise.”

At the University of California, Los Angeles, Schneider taught acting, but after she graduated she stopped and focused on her own acting career.

“I love [teaching],” she said after getting back to it. “I love connecting with people. I love sharing what I know… I feel like everyone has an obligation and if you have a gift, you are robbing the world if you are not sharing it with others.”

Karen Lico, 57, a student at the studio, said that she loves Schneider’s way of teaching.

“She has a way of pulling us in and getting us to feel things that you don’t even realize you are feeling and can feel,” Lico said. “She just makes you feel good.”

John Battaglia, 57, another student, never had any acting experience until this January when he took a class with Schneider at Bare Bones Theater in Northport.

“I like the idea of being somebody else and using the feelings and emotion inside me in another character,” Battaglia said.

Schneider was born on Long Island and moved to California as a teen. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in theatre from UCLA. After meeting her husband, Steve Schneider, she moved back to Long Island and got married.

She has more than 20 years of acting experience, and yet she said she still goes to acting classes occasionally, as many famous actors do, Schneider said, because acting, just like sports, relies on muscle memories. Attending classes would help actors “flex their acting muscles,” she said.

However, most of the classes at Take 2 Actor’s Studio are made for students with little to zero acting experience.

“If you come in with acting experience, in some ways you may have habits that I need to break,” Schneider said. She said she is more inspired by students who come in uncomfortable acting in front of other people and leave her class motivated and excited by the progress they have made.

Schneider said that there are not many adult acting schools on Long Island and she welcomes people who are interested in acting but never got the chance to try it.

“No matter your age, if it’s something that you’ve always been curious about or wanted to try, then [you should],” she said. “It’s never too late. You will gain more than the skills needed to act. You will gain new friends and a deeper understanding of yourself.”

Students observe and learn how a manufacturing company works. Photo from South Huntington school district

By Colm Ashe

Huntington institutions are meeting the future head on as they prepare local students for jobs in manufacturing technology.

LaunchPad in Huntington, Workforce Development Institute and South Huntington school district have teamed up with student leaders from grades 6-12, STEM teachers and more to create the Manufacturing Technology Task Force, an initiative aiming to provide teachers and students with hands-on experience with industry-relevant technology.

In the last 12 months, more than 200 Long Island manufacturers posted at least 2,300 tech-related jobs. However, some parents and students are not aware these jobs exist right in their home area.

The partnership’s overall mission is to create a program that mutually benefits students, teachers and local businesses alike. The MTTF plans to teach applicable skill sets and provide a fine-tuned curriculum accompanied by internship and apprenticeship opportunities for prospective high school students.

On May 27, WDI organized a school trip to East/West Industries, a Ronkonkoma manufacturing company that develops and produces aircraft seats and life support systems for high-performance military aircraft. Kids from grades 6-12 and school staff toured the facility and learned about the entire process with special emphasis on the engineering and 3-D printing. They also viewed video footage showcasing the products, design and testing, and got the chance to meet with staff. East/West has further plans to develop a 3-D printing curriculum so students can learn the skills and careers possibilities waiting in their own backyard.

That same weekend, the students got a taste of how this work can affect the world around them as they watched Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornets fly over Long Island at the Jones Beach air show, knowing the pilots were sitting on survival kits they had seen manufactured.

This relationship between curious students and surrounding business is the focal point of the MTTF’s mission. South Huntington assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum, Jared Bloom, hopes this collaborative effort will produce “a first-of-its-kind curriculum that meets the needs of the district while providing experts in the field an opportunity to share their vision and provide direct guidance and support.”

Phil Rugile, director of LaunchPad in Huntington, echoes this sentiment, saying the organization is working toward a future where “students develop skills that are appropriate and relevant to open positions that are not getting filled.” Rugile believes this is “a huge step towards creating a meaningful alliance that will produce tangible results.”

This initiative is a part of a bigger mission to connect Long Island schools with manufacturers in an effort to generate a sustainable workforce pipeline and connect emerging workforces with job opportunities.

At the recent Manufacturing Innovation Conference co-hosted by WDI and LaunchPad Huntington, guests learned there are thousands of well-paid manufacturing occupations — particularly in the field of technology. Throughout the last 12 months, more than 200 Long Island manufacturers posted at least 2,300 tech-related jobs. However, some parents and students are not aware these jobs exist right in their home area. This is why MTTF joined forces to herald in the optimistic news regarding Long Island’s bright future in job growth and development.

The ripples of these progressive actions go beyond merely providing security — they are instilling students with a profound new sense of purpose. When Tyler Daniel from Stimson Middle School was asked what a manufacturing job is, he responded, “When you make a product that makes a difference in people’s lives.” Clearly, this initiative is teaching kids how to succeed in the ever-changing world of technological advancement.

The LaunchPad Huntington STEAM Innovation Conference will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo by Rohma Abbas

LaunchPad Huntington is sponsoring a conversation between technology companies, educators and students in the hopes that it will spark creative collaborations and future Long Island-based jobs.

The conference will be both a showcase of emerging technologies and services and an in-depth panel discussion with education and industry leaders working to prepare students and adults for new employment opportunities.

The event, dubbed a STEAM Innovation Conference will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at LaunchPad’s Huntington office from 3:30 to 8 p.m.

Phil Rugile, director of LaunchPad Huntington, said the conference is meant to combine science and the arts, to “merge two different parts of the brain.”

“My hope is to get a conversation started in media, education and business communities,” he said. “We need people to start thinking outside the box.”

The event starts with a 90-minute opening for public school students to browse exhibits set up by technology companies. A solar energy company and a virtual reality company are some of the businesses that will showcase exhibits at the conference.

“The really important question on Long Island is how do we get the students and the employers together,” Rugile said. He said that the skillsets of someone with a great sense of creativity and technology are really needed at a local level.

Originally this conference was designed to target professors and their curricula to produce more innovative thinkers.

Following the exhibits, there will be a networking hour, complete with dinner and music, where businesses and educators are encouraged to bounce ideas off each other.

The final part of the conference is a discussion by a panel of experts. Kenneth White, manager of Office of Educational Programs at Brookhaven National Laboratory, will moderate the talk. Panelists will include Victoria Hong, associate chairperson and assistant professor for the St. Joseph’s College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Andrew Grefig, director of curriculum and content at Teq and Nancy Richner, museum education director at the Hofstra University Museum.

“We’re constantly losing kids to Brooklyn and New York City,” Rugile said. “Let’s change the conversation. We need to provide opportunities.”

Music, food and games at SPARKBOOM event on Saturday

Wantagh native AJ Estrada strums a tune from his latest project, ‘Archibelle.’ Estrada will be performing at an event in Huntington on Saturday. Photo from AJ Estrada

By Julianne Cuba

On Saturday, a LaunchPad Huntington on Main Street will be home to an event that merges art, music, food and games, all while showcasing Long Island talent.

The event, called “ART BYTES: A Special #ARTNTECH Event,” is the brainchild of LaunchPad Huntington, a business accelerator and event space on Main Street in Huntington, Long Island Visual Professionals and SPARKBOOM, a project of the Huntington Arts Council that aims to support Long Island artists.

Raj Tawney, who is head of public relations & media for SPARKBOOM, said the program has hosted dozens of events since its first in 2013. Saturday’s event is expected to attract at least a few hundred people — but more than expected always seem to show up.

“The program exists because we felt there wasn’t enough opportunity for Generation Y and millennials in regards to emerging creative talent in Long Island,” Tawney said. “So, we developed this program give opportunity to younger artistic types in the area, so they don’t feel like they need to run to Manhattan to seek opportunity.”

One ART BYTES artist is AJ Estrada, a jack-of-all-trades. Estrada — a native of Wantagh — sings, plays the guitar and paints digitally. Estrada will be singing and performing songs from his new project, “Archibelle.” And his artwork will be on display in the featured artist gallery.

“I think this event, and SPARKBOOM, in general, has done a tremendous amount of work in curating and bringing together creatives from all over Long Island,” Estrada said. “They’re truly an outstanding group of people.”

Alexa Dexa, a Lindenhurst native who takes the name Dexa after her paternal grandmother, will also be performing at ART BYTES. Dexa, who is a 2011 graduate of Berklee College of Music, will be performing selections from her upcoming album, “Year of Abandon,” which, according to Dexa, is a collection of “toychestral” electronic pop songs concentrated on the meanings of the word “abandon.”

Accompanying Dexa’s own voice will be her toy piano, pitched desk bells and electronic beats she handcrafts.

“Any event that supports and showcases local music and musicians in their local neighborhoods is doing a great service to the arts community and the general public,” Dexa said. “Events like this absolutely strengthen the cultural validity of Long Island and certainly keep me from straying too far for too long while on tour.”

The event is free, with a $5 suggestion donation. It will take place at LaunchPad Huntington, at 315 Main Street on the second floor.