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Levittown Welcomes School For Autism

The ELIJA school for autistic children has just settled into its new home, after signing a three-year lease to rent out the 13-room Laurel Lane primary school in Levittown. On World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, ELIJA school stakeholders gathered with county, town and school officials for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting event. 

 

“This is a fantastic use of the property,” said Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes. “It involves and helps people in the community.”

 

ELIJA—which stands for Empowering Long Island’s Journey Through Autism—is a not-for-profit organization that was founded by two parents in the spring of 2002 and uses applied behavior analysis to keep educational programs effective, exciting, enjoyable, for children with austistic spectrum disorders. 

 

According to the ELIJA school’s executive director, Debora Thivierge, there are a total of 15 students attending the school, where they receive one-on-one lessons. For Thivierge, the decision to come to Levittown was easy one, as it is in a central enough location for parents coming from as far west as Manhattan, to all the way out on the East End. 

 

Erected in 1956, the Laurel Lane primary school first closed its doors in 1978, after the school district found it was too small to remain an elementary school. Since then it has played home to several tenants, including a school for problem teens, the Montessori

School, the Nassau-Suffolk School for Autism, and the district’s vocational, gifted and GED programs. 

 

Most recently, the district used the facilities as an alternative education center, but when the program was relocated to the Levittown Memorial Education Center, in 2009, it left the building empty for almost five years. 

 

“This is a home run for the community,” said Levittown Board of Education President Kevin Regan. “The building was unused for years... it's a win-win for everyone here.”

 

During the ceremony, ELIJA school officals met in groups for a tour of their new home. 

  

For Nassau County Legislator Dennis Dunne Sr., walking through the hallway inside the ELIJA school was a walk down memory lane. As a child growing up in Levittown, Dunne attended the Laurel Lane Primary school from grades 1-3. He fondly remembers performing in the school play and playing stickball with his friends in the schoolyard.

 

Reminiscing about Laurel Lane, Dunne fondly recalled playing outside on a particularly muddy afternoon.  

 

“My boots had gotten stuck in the mud,” Dunne laughed, “so my mom ran over and pulled me out.” Dunne said that since he lived down the street, his mother was able to come and help get him out of the mud. 

 

After the tour, the festivites resumed inside where there were balloons and brightly colored decorations. The ELIJA school was also presented with a citation for its efforts to serve parents, professionals, and children with autism spectrum disorder on Long Island. 

News

A group of Levittown parents are voicing their concerns with letting their children walk to school, since it would mean they would continue to cross Hempstead Turnpike.

 

“My kid has to cross [Hempstead Tpke.] daily without a crossing guard,” said Division Avenue parent Wendy Lantigua. 

 

For Lantigua and others, the dangers of Hempstead Turnpike became all to real after 13-year-old Brianna Soplin was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, last June. Not to mention the fact that another 14-year-old Levittown student suffered multiple injuries after being struck in hit-and-run, last February. 

On Sept. 14, Hempstead town officials joined family and friends of fallen New York City paramedic Rudy Havelka, to unveil the re-dedication of Birch Lane in Levittown. 

While surviving the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Havelka wou ld later die of an illness related to his service at Ground Zero.


Sports

The annual One Love Long Island (OLLI) Yoga Festival takes place at the Sands Point Preserve on Sunday, Sept. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. All profits will be donated to organizations that support survivors of human trafficking, locally and globally. 

 

The festival will unite 16 Long Island yoga studio communities in a round robin of the traditional yogic practice of 108 Sun Salutations from 9:30 a.m. to noon, whose offerings will look to create long-term and sustainable solutions to eradicate the human trafficking epidemic by raising funds and awareness for the cause.  

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which took place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

 

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Calendar

IT Board of Ed - September 17

All Star Comedy - September 18

Irreversible Paul Lynde - September 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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