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Taking The Reins

Trinity Lutheran welcomes
Lisa Cacchioli as new school’s principal

Spend a few minutes with Principal Lisa Cacchioli and three words come to life. “A Caring Place,” which is etched on the red awning over the Nicholai Street entrance to Trinity Lutheran School, is transformed from a gentle greeting into a warm embrace of every student inside.

Add a dedicated staff and you have a center of learning combining cutting edge technology, educational basics and deep moral values.

“I firmly believe in respect for everyone at all times,” Cacchioli said.

That respect is evident in the comfortable lobby that greets visitors with a wall of wisdom that changes in theme each month.  January – new beginnings.  February – the heart. In an interview before a tour of the school she clearly loves, Cacchioli praised a talented parent for assembling the sayings, scripture and artwork, noting, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Students at Trinity Lutheran range in age from 2 to 14 – kindergarten to middle school. In addition to Hicksville, they come from Westbury, Plainview, Jericho, Hempstead, Levittown and Syosset. The school was founded in 1952.

After greeting each one at 8:15 a.m., Cacchioli makes the daily announcements on the public address system before she shares a literary treat with kindergartners, first- and second-graders. Each day she reads a page or two of Charlottes Web.

“They love it,” Cacchioli said. “Reading is so important.  It changes lives.”

One innovative class is devoted to study habits. A popular one, it focuses on the importance of organization and note taking. Cursive is also taught as is sentence diagramming and grammar, subjects that sometimes take a backseat in this age of fast communication.  


Computers are also an integral part of the curriculum. She proudly showcased a fully equipped computer room, filled with students glued to their screens working on “endangered animal research,” according to instructor Mr. Stainkamp.

“Kids just love computers,” he said, explaining their project will evolve into a PowerPoint presentation.

Smart boards fill many classrooms, but not all. Cacchioli said a fundraiser is being planned for later this month to bring smart boards to every room. “We need more,” she said, eying eight.

Keeping her students in shape is a high priority for Cacchioli, as is giving back.  Physical education teacher John Asenza described “Hoops for Heart ” that has students engaged in “anything that has to do with jumping” as a way to stay fit and help the community at the same time. The student’s efforts, Cacchioli explained, raise money that is donated to the American Heart Association.

“We have amazing students,” she said with contagious enthusiasm, as she navigated the picture-filled walls upstairs and down. Visiting one classroom, a 2-year-old, Nicholas, spontaneously hugged her.

Later visiting the multipurpose room, Cacchioli offered words of encouragement and caution to a class of preschoolers who turned the large room into a temporary tricycle track zooming round and round on shiny three-wheelers. In another room she was serenaded by Mrs. Evers’ class of 4 year olds, who belted out a patriotic song while one student held the American flag.

With the exception of the young ones in the Early Childhood Center, every student wears a uniform, providing “consistency,” Cacchioli said, along with easing the pressure of the age-old question – what do I wear today?

“Our community,” she said of Hicksville, “has always been solid and hardworking,” two traits she instills in her students. “I am here all the time,” she said, and teachers stay late, providing role models for the children.

Students also stay late to help one another. Their peer tutoring program involves middle school students assisting the younger ones in reading, math and other subjects

Character-building takes countless forms from words of the month – friendship, perseverance and integrity, for example – to the adoption of a charity by each class, to the Wednesday worship service in the chapel led by Pastor Henn or sometimes a parent.

Lighter moments of the week include pizza day every Friday, but this day – a bitter cold Monday – featured the gentle aroma of homemade chicken soup and garlic bread.       

A graduate of C.W. Post, Cacchioli later received her masters in education from Queens College, following a brief time as a bond trader on Wall Street. After having two children – a daughter, 22, and a son, 20 – she knew her love was education and she began teaching, “a calling,” she said. She served as interim principal for a year three years ago after teaching for some 10 years, then returned to the classroom for a year before being named principal.     

“Our teachers are phenomenal,” she said. Many stay decades. The director of the Early Childhood Center, Mrs. Rausch, is stepping down this year after 36 years. “I’ve taught hundreds of kids,” she said as she held a tiny pair of plaid high top sneakers preparing to return them to the rightful owner.  

Clearly comfortable in any classroom or enthusiastically greeting teachers or students in the hallway, Cacchioli said all she has to do is spend time with her students and her day is brighter.  

“I feel like I was led to this,” Cacchioli said.  

News

Sabina Lotlikar never imagined she’d find herself competing in a pageant. The 19-year-old from Hicksville was more used to spending her time cooking, playing video games and working out than walking in heels in front of hundreds of people. But that all changed this year when Lotlikar decided to compete in the Miss LI pageant, an experience she describes as unforgettable.

“It was so nerve-wracking because I’ve never done anything like this, but I’m so glad I went through it and was dedicated to it. It was amazing,” she says.

When it comes to photography, it’s been a long road for Hicksville’s John Micheals. What started as a hobby in childhood, has now returned as an irreplaceable form of self expression.

“It’s a way of expressing myself. I’m very comfortable with it. It’s a way of expressing myself and being me without any qualifications,” he said.

Micheals’ journey in photography started with snapping pictures with a Kodak as a kid growing up in Queens. As an undergrad at City College of New York, he took art classes and his photography took a back seat as he became an art teacher. When he retired in 1996, he picked up the camera again, taking classes at Nassau Community College and getting his certificate in photography. He dropped photography again when family priorities arose, and got behind the lens again in 2009.  


Sports

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its fourth tournament on Thursday Aug. 7. We had 33 golfers and a record 8 who scored under 40. Low overall score was won by newcomer Ed Hyne with an impressive 33, his second low net in a row. Charlie Acerra scored a solid 35, and won low overall net with a 26; his best score in 4 years.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 % handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season. The league meets every Thursday at 7:30 a.m., but the formal tournament dates are only the first and third Thursday of the month through late October. We will have a final luncheon with prizes on our last meeting.

The fields of Kevin Kolm Memorial Park were filled with nearly 200 soccer players on Saturday for the annual ‘Soccer For A Cause’ event. The event was put together by the Mastermind Unit in sponsor of the Michael Magro Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting pediatric patients with cancer and their families.

“The Mastermind Unit is a non-profit organization that was founded by a group of guys who grew up playing soccer together in Hicksville,” said co-founder Bryan Alcantara. “This is our seventh annual  ‘Soccer For A Cause’ event at Memorial Park.”


Calendar

Personality Disorders

August 25

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com