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Mineola Reacts To Connecticut School Shootings

Nagler: ‘Safety plans may be modified’

The horror that struck Newtown, CT on Friday, Dec. 14 sent a wave of terror across the country after a 20-year-old man gunned down 20 elementary school students and seven teachers. Since then, local school officials have faced questions about safety and security.

Whether it was a coincidence or a sign of safe planning, the Mineola School District held safety and lockdown drills at two buildings just before shooting, District Superintendent Michael Nagler told the Mineola American on Monday, Dec. 17. Drills were held at Mineola High School and the Hampton Street School.

“We do lockdown drills in conjunction with Nassau County Police,” he said in a phone interview.

District officials assured that administration would review all its safety policies and modify them if needed. Nagler expects Thursday’s [Dec. 20]  school board meeting to detail those initiatives.

“It is unimaginable to me that children are the target of such violence,” said Nagler, a father of two school-age children. “We try as parents and as educators to shield kids of the harsh realities of an adult world. It rocks you emotionally.”

Mineola guidance counselors will be visiting elementary schools throughout the week. One thing that Nagler said is key for younger kids is routine.

“Younger kids like routine,” he said. “When you deviate from them, they know something is up. We try to keep it as normal and as usual as possible as they go through their day.”

Parent Sheri Wilgosz wanted to break her routine when the news came over the radio while she was driving Friday morning. Her first reaction was to go get her 7-year-old daughter, but rethought her next move.

“I didn’t want to scare her,” she said. “She was in good hands. My initial reaction was to drive and get her out of there. Not that I thought that anything would happen to her. I talked myself down because I didn’t want to upset her.”

Mineola’s Ann Marie Egan held her breath when she first learned of the shooting. Her niece is a guidance counselor for a middle school 30 minutes from Sandy Hook.

“My niece works with some people from that neighborhood,” she said. “She said she knows people from that school and they’ll be getting together to help out. They’re all heartbroken.”

Mineola parent and nursery school teacher Maria Luca said working with children close to the age of the victims jarred her psyche when the news came in. She stated further that her hopes and prayers are with the families.

“You think of your children,” she said. “That was my first instinct. When my children were students at Jackson [Avenue School] I would never even consider this happening.”


News

As the night sky fell on Memorial Park last Thursday, Mineola residents and officials paused to remember the almost 3,000 lives that were lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

 

Mayor Scott Strauss, a former NYPD EMS worker and 9/11 first responder, was one of the many who rushed into Manhattan after the attacks, searching the rubble for survivors. He was part of the rescue effort that saved the lives of Port Authority Police officers Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin.

Swaths of nearby and local residents flocked to the sixth annual Mineola Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 14. With vendors lined up and down the streets featuring local businesses and restaurants, live performances and various entertainment for kids, the Mineola Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event didn’t disappoint Mary Cheung of Great Neck.

 

“These fairs are always fun,” she said. “It’s not too hot, not too cold. The music is the best part.”


Sports

Though it had already hosted the series of lacrosse games during the regular season this past spring, Chaminade High School’s new Gold Star Stadium was officially christened on Saturday, Sept. 6, named in honor of the 56 alumni who had perished during combat.

 

“Tradition holds that when one dies in the service a gold star is given to the family,” said Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary. “Our 56 Gold Star Alumni are honored for their selflessness, courage, and integrity.”

Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

International Night - September 18

Bereavement Support Group - September 19


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