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Friends Fair Shows Kids Still Like Books

With a pilot program lending iPads to all middle schoolers, Friends Academy is exploring the leading edge of education technology, but the grand old technology of ink on paper took center stage at the school’s annual Book Fair, a tradition since 1990, that ran through May 1.

By all accounts it was a smashing success—record-smashing, that is, with the bake sale raking in nearly twice its usual take. The final tally for the fair itself was not available as of press time.

“We do raise a lot of money for the libraries, but it’s not about the numbers,” said Judith James, library director at Friends. “It’s to promote kids loving books. We want them to have some physical experience with books. There’s something different about the tangible book on the table.”

The whole Friends community pitches in to pull off the event. This year library staff were supported by a legion of parent volunteers—including Mark and Lori Kaminsky of Roslyn, Barrie Savasta and Michele Cagner of Oyster Bay, Elizabeth Wootten of Locust Valley, and Debbie Rechler and Yvonne Feinstein, both of Old Brookville.

All Friends students visit the Book Fair at least once, with a class group accompanied by a teacher. Many return on their own or with parents. On the last day of the fair, as high school students and parents boxed up the unsold upper-grade level books, Lower School students looked over the remaining picture books and puzzles escorted by parents, teachers and teacher’s aides. Classics like Goodnight, Moon sold next to Lego books and other newer offerings.

There’s no shortage of technology use among FA students, yet James says the Fair has not been impacted by ebooks. Even though students are using both formats (and highly adept at digital gaming and communications), many books are still not available in digital editions and there is still appeal to the hard-copy experience. Only a few students told her they’d be using an e-reader for their summer assignments, she said.

According to Middle School Librarian Mary Ann Reardon, the Harry Potter-influenced fantasy genre has faded. Friends Middle Schoolers these days are drawn to serials such as John Feinstein’s Steven and Susan Sports Mysteries, which feature a young crime-solving protagonist of each gender.

These students lean to fiction with dark, often dystopian, themes. The Hunger Games mania has been displaced by the Divergent/Allegiant/Insurgent and The Maze Runner trilogies.

“They’re kind of all the same story: You’re 16, you have to make a choice, then fight everybody,” said Reardon. “I think it’s partly marketing [tied to movies].” The Sledding Hill, told from the perspective of a dead boy, sold out, as did familiar classics like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (1967) and The House of Dies Drear (1968).  

According to James, the high schoolers primarily picked up their required summer readings, which include True Grit and Siddhartha for rising 9th graders; 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale for rising 10th graders; Ethan Frome and The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin for rising juniors; and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The White Tiger for rising seniors.

“Few bought for pleasure reading,” she said, acknowledging the jam-packed schedules of these teens. “Some tell me they hope to read for pleasure after they graduate.”

News

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution.

Dr. Charles Schleien, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said that although the enterovirus is still active, cases are dwindling on Long Island. According to Schleien, approximately 500 cases have been reported this season of enterovirus, at Cohen’s Children Medical Center, with two to six patients being admitted per day.

Matt Bentz, of Forest Hills, was the winner of the Oyster Festival Raffle that took place as the event ended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. He had a choice between winning a 2015 Chrysler 200 three-year lease or $15,000 in cash. He chose the cash. He is the “Perfect Oyster Festival Raffle winner.”

Bentz is a computer systems administrator with Spa Creek Software, a company that writes software for other software developers, and has been to the festival numerous times over the years; in fact, next year he is hoping to sail here on his 24 ft. sailboat. He got it “reasonably” from a friend who was buying up.


Sports

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



Columns

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

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