Tags Posts tagged with "scholarships"


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Riley Smith of Miller Place High School and Matthew Campo of Mount Sinai High School were named the 2020 Mount Sinai – Miller Place Chamber Alliance Scholarship Recipients. Photos from MSMP Chamber

The 2020 Mount Sinai – Miller Place Chamber Alliance Scholarship winners this year are Riley Smith of Miller Place High School and Matthew Campo of Mount Sinai High School. Each student will receive a $500 scholarship towards furthering their education or business. Applicants were asked to submit an essay detailing how they would use the award to achieve their goals, a description of any community service or volunteer work they have participated in, and two letters of recommendation. Applications were then reviewed by the Mount Sinai – Miller Place Chamber Alliance scholarship committee.

“My sincerest congratulations to Riley and Matthew for earning this award,” said Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai). “It is important students realize that hard work and determination are necessary to reach your goals, and Riley and Matthew serve as examples for their peers. I look forward to seeing their future accomplishments.”

Riley plans to use her scholarship towards her education at Stony Brook University, where she will be studying to become a research biologist in order to help preserve the environment. Matthew will be using his award to further his balloon art business, which he has done voluntarily through partnerships with Atria Assisted Living in Setauket, Little Flower Adoption and Services Agency, and Angela’s House to bring joy and hope to the elderly, children with special needs, and their families.

For more information on the Mount Sinai – Miller Place Chamber Alliance and its scholarship fund, visit www.msmpchamber.com.

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Elementary school teacher Meryl Nani, as Peter Pan, and Paul Wilgenkamp, as Captain Hook, during the Three Village school district’s scholarship show performed by teachers and administrators. Photo from Three Village Central School District

Teachers and administrators in the Three Village Central School District recently combined their talents to lend a helping hand to students.

“It’s a great bonding experience between the administrators and staff, and when the community gets to come see you, they get to see you in a whole different light as a performer on stage.”

–Paul Wilgenkamp

On Nov. 21-23 nearly 100 members of the Three Village Teachers Association and Three Village School Administrators Association put on a production of “Peter Pan” at R.C. Murphy Jr. High School. Directed by Anthony Pollera, TVCSD director of music, the musical featured elementary school teacher Meryl Nani in the lead role. Students, parents and community members paid $20 a ticket to attend, which in turn raised $25,000 for scholarships that will be distributed to eligible students from elementary to high school.

Pollera said children like seeing their teachers playing characters such as the ones in Peter Pan, adding that there was such a huge interest they could have put on a fourth show.

“Some of these adults are very talented, and some are very brave regardless,” Pollera said. “You want to pick a show the audience is going to like, most importantly the students.”

Paul Wilgenkamp, math center teacher at Minnesauke Elementary School, played Captain Hook. Performing in previous faculty productions, he said it’s just as exciting for the students as for the teachers and administrators.

“It’s a great bonding experience between the administrators and staff, and when the community gets to come see you, they get to see you in a whole different light as a performer on stage,” Wilgenkamp said. “It’s kind of like when kids see you in the supermarket. They can’t believe that a teacher is out shopping for food.”

“Peter Pan” brought back a tradition that started in 2002 when teachers came together to put on a production of “Guys and Dolls” to raise money. In the following years, the educators presented “That’s Entertainment!” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Grease.” After a break for a few years, in 2011, they acted in “The Wizard of Oz,” which was followed by another years-long sabbatical.

“Everybody is busy with what they do in their dedication to students,” Pollera said. “It just kind of rolled around and we said let’s do it this year. If you ask them right now, they’re ready to go again next year.”

“I think what has made this last one really special was the administrative unit working with the teachers.”

— Anthony Pollera

Pollera added this was the first time administrators took part in the group effort.

“I think what has made this last one really special was the administrative unit working with the teachers,” he said.

He said it was fun seeing administrators like Kevin Scanlon, deputy superintendent for business services, building sets with them and seeing principals performing as the Lost Boys.

Wilgenkamp, who used to perform occasionally with his father Jan at the former Island Squire restaurant in Middle Island, said Pollera brings out everyone’s hidden talents.

“I probably never would have gone and done any more singing or acting or performing if [Anthony] hadn’t shown up in our district a few years ago,” Wilgenkamp said. “He’s an amazing guy. He touches so many lives.”

Pollera, who also played piano for the production, added there was a nine-piece musical pit filled with all music teachers. The production also included a flying apparatus for Peter Pan and the Darling children.

Rehearsals began in September, Pollera said, for four days a week. During Saturday rehearsals, high school students helped babysit teachers’ children.

“It was one big family,” the director said. “I can’t really describe it any better than that.”

Wilgenkamp said Pollera always puts together a professional production that brings out confidence and the best in everybody involved.

“It’s really mind-blowing how he can take people who are teachers or working in the school buildings and turn them into stars on the stage and change the stage into this elaborate Broadway production,” Wilgenkamp said.

He said it felt good to know the show will positively impact students with the availability of scholarships for years to come, in addition to the bonds that were created.

“The camaraderie and the relationships that the shows create really lasts a lifetime,” Wilgenkamp said.

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Members of the Three Village Schools Retiree Association work together to make calls to community members about last year’s Constitutional Convention vote. Photo from Betty Baran

For a number of Three Village Central School District retirees, serving the community didn’t stop when they left their former place of employment.

The Three Village Schools Retiree Association provides an opportunity for the district’s past employees to stay connected with former coworkers, and a way to help those in need in the community at the same time. This past holiday season the association continued its yearly tradition of donating to the school district’s adopt-a-family program, as the group raised $3,800.

Debbi Rakowsky, R.C. Murphy Junior High School social worker, said a growing number of families are in need in the Three Village district and most buildings averaged 15 families they collected for this past holiday season. All eight schools in the area coordinate collections at the end of every year and rely on staff donations. She said there was apprehension this holiday season that the gift cards donated by building staff wouldn’t cover the families needs, and the $3,800 from the retirees was distributed amongst all the school buildings and was a major help.

According to Judy McCready, president of the  retiree association and member since 2004, one of the missions of the association is to help the community. In addition to donating to the schools’ adopt-a-family program every year, it also grants scholarships to a number of Ward Melville High School seniors in the spring.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the need for financial assistance is as great as it is in Three Village.”

— Judy McCready

The association combines fundraising with socializing. In the fall the retirees hold a welcome breakfast, a holiday lunch at the beginning of December and a happy hour to welcome new retirees at the end of the school year. McCready said at each event the group raises money for the holiday drive and scholarships and attendees are asked to bring a food item or toiletry that is donated to St. James R.C. Church in Setauket. She said members who no longer live in the area send checks for the causes, too.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the need for financial assistance is as great as it is in Three Village,” McCready said.

Betty Baran, corresponding secretary of the association and member since 2004, said the first retirees group in the Three Village area was founded in 1983 and called The Retirees Association of the Three Village Central School District. In the ’90s another association for only teachers formed called the Three Village Retired Teachers Association. In 2010, the two groups merged. Baran said the current group includes 511 retirees, and while 80 percent are former teachers, the rest of the membership is made up of administrators, custodial, secretarial and clerical staff.

Baran said the members enjoy giving back to the community that was good to them while they were working. Another goal of the association is to provide moral support for current teachers by getting involved in political issues with an educational slant.

“We do try to keep our members abreast politically as it applies to education, and different changes in things that are happening with active teachers,” Baran said. “We support them. We make phone calls to legislators. So, we have a political agenda to foster education in New York state. These are issues that we feel strongly about because we were involved in education.”

In the past, members of the association have reached out to local legislators about potential tax cuts, which would have severely impacted school districts and funding for public schools. The group also reaches out to the community to show its support for candidates running for school board and actively made calls opposing the Constitutional Convention before Election Day 2017.

Rakowsky said all the social workers in the district are appreciative of the retirees’ assistance, and it has been a pleasure working with the group.

“I am so proud to be part of this district for a million reasons and this just highlights how our teachers are committed to supporting the community even after they have retired,” the school social worker said. “I plan on retiring in June of 2019 after 31 years, and I look forward to being part of such an amazing legacy.”