Great Neck Plaza Mayor Bob Rosegarten helped Great Neck North Middle School kick off its third annual ''Dare to Care--Dare to Act'' campaign, challenging the students to carry their ''respect, responsibility, and relationships'' theme out into the Great Neck community.
North Middle Principal Patrick Sullivan addressed the Halloween Day assembly gathering of sixth-seventh-and eighth-graders, reminding them of the ''importance of the concept'' of ''Dare to Care'' within the school. ''Dare to Care,'' explained Dr. Sullivan, originally was the theme only for the 1995-96 school year, but due to the strong response from students, the theme became ''our rallying cry every year.''
In fact, a ''Dare to Care'' quilt designed by the students hangs in the school's gymnasium. Measuring 10 feet wide by 13 and one half feet long, the quilt consists of 28 decorated blocks, each block illustrating the lyrics of the song Friends--I'll Be There For You.
During the past few years, North Middle students sponsored food and clothing drives for the needy in the community and conducted letter-writing campaigns to the state legislators and to Governor Pataki, asking that they save the special schools for the physically challenged.
And this year Dr. Sullivan announced that North Middle is challenging its students to ''Dare to Care'' by performing small acts of respect and responsibility each day. ''It doesn't take an enormous effort, but a conscientious effort, to help another person by an act of kindness,'' said Dr. Sullivan, ''It doesn't take an enormous effort, just a conscientious effort, to help keep our school clean.'' And, he added, Mayor Rosegarten would soon ask them to ''bring their values of respect and responsibility to the larger community.''
Impressed with the students' spirit and good works, several well-known people have come to North Middle to encourage the youngsters. Dr. Henry Viscardi, a leading advocate for rehabilitation and a Great Neck resident; injured police officer, Detective Steven McDonald; attorney William Marks; and North Middle graduate, fashion designer Kenneth Cole have all spoken to the student body.
At the Oct. 31 assembly, Mayor Rosegarten, a member of the school's first graduating class, told the youngster's that his old school is ''still as beautiful, and, I think, much cleaner.'' He told of carrying books from the high school, down the hill, 10 books at a time, to bring them to the new school's library.
And then Mayor Rosegarten told the very quiet, very attentive young audience, that his village, the Village of Great Neck Plaza, is about to begin a program, ''much like yours,'' to keep the village clean.
The mayor explained that even though he has his sidewalks vacuumed twice each day, there is still litter. The flower pots dotting the village, expensive and meant to beautify the downtown, are too often used as waste receptacles.
''How can we get people to care about Great Neck Plaza, to care about 'Great Neck the Greater'?'' he asked.
''I need your help,'' said Mayor Rosegarten to the students.
And then he challenged the youngsters to help develop a theme for the Plaza, and to design posters. The theme will be printed on a banner across Middle Neck Road. The posters will be displayed in store windows. And the winners, the ones who create the theme and the poster, will be honored with local publicity.
Mayor Rosegarten explained that ''what starts in the Plaza moves up the peninsula, along Middle Neck Road, keeping the streets clean, keeping stores open.''
''Let's make everyone realize that we should treat our downtown the same way as we treat our living rooms,'' said the mayor.
Mayor Rosegarten's words and the theme for ''Dare to Care'' were echoed in student and faculty presentations, starting with a series of faculty skits, complete with a conscience, the voice of ''Dare to Care,'' designed to show respect, teach responsibility, and help develop positive relationships.
The short skits depicted students letting a teacher struggle with an arm-load of books, other students kicking a bagel around the room, students deriding instead of helping a fellow student athlete, and a student refusing to clean a cafeteria table---''It's not mine,'' he stated. Then, each time, when the voice of ''Dare to Care'' intervened, the students realized they should pitch in and help.
The G.O. officers read the James Thurber poem The Last Flower, a poem that Dr. Sullivan explained showed that ''we can all make a difference.''
Then the ''Dare to Care'' dancers, under the direction of teacher Maggie Goldberger, crowned the morning event with their dance to the lively song Respect.
''We are all capable of showing greater respect and responsibility in our lives,'' said Dr. Sullivan.
The Great Neck North Middle School students cheered, seemingly ready to accept the challenge.
And ''Dare to Care'' is off to yet another exciting, productive year.
Great Neck's Vigilant Fire Corp. recently honored the Great Neck Estates and Kensington police forces with unit citations, praising police efforts at assistance at a fire in June. The Great Neck Estates and Kensington police began evacuating a burning building at 160 Middle Neck Road even before the firefighters arrived.
According to Vigilant Fire Chief Andrew DeMartin, ''The police really did a fantastic job!''
When the June 30, Kenwood apartment building fire was called in at 12:26 a.m., the nearby Kensington and Great Neck Estates police rushed to the scene and immediately began evacuating the 127 residents in this Great Neck Estates building.
''They're always a big asset,'' said Chief DeMartin, noting that the police are always on the scene, helping the emergency medical workers, and always at fire calls, assisting the firefighters in any way they can---helping to lift equipment, comforting families.
''We always work very closely together,'' said the chief.
The local fire departments also work closely together, and Chief DeMartin reported that, in addition to the village and county police, and 49 people from the Vigilants, along with three engines and two aerials, Great Neck's Alert firefighters also turned out to render assistance.
One Kenwood apartment resident, 80-year-old Thelma Gardner, was trapped in the building during the Kenwood Apartments fire. Vigilant Assistant Chief Conrad Singer, risking his own life, entered the burning apartment, pulling the elderly woman into the bedroom, waiting for the kitchen fire to be extinguished in order for them to escape.
''He's the real hero and our village plans to present him with a citation for this life-saving event,'' stated Great Neck Estates Police Chief John McNulty.
''This was a big fire,'' he continued, ''and our officers really went 'above and beyond,' and all of the firefighters really rose to the occasion.''
Chief McNulty added, ''It's fortunate that an event of this magnitude does not happen very often. But we always work together---the village police, the county police, all of the firefighters. And, clearly, we really worked well together.''
Firefighters and police worked at the scene, together, fighting the fire, for almost two-and-a-half hours.
The Vigilants firefighters presented the unit citations to the Great Neck Estates and the Kensington police forces at the Oct. 22, Great Neck Village Officials Association meeting.