Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
Weeks after the tragic Connecticut school shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead, what to do differently going forward to prevent similar shootings from happening in the future is still the hot topic on everyone’s lips. School board meetings throughout the area over the past few weeks were filled with parents requesting tighter security, while other parents questioned the value of extra security cameras and locks, instead suggesting stronger character education programs. Meanwhile, area lawmakers and other community leaders are beginning to attempt to address these issues with the tools available to them.
For Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs, the best way to make a difference going forward is to make sure that funding for mental health services in Nassau County is protected.
“It is totally inexcusable that in the 2013 [county] budget, the mental health contractual services are decreasing by $3.9 million, or 45.2 percent,” said Jacobs. “On the county level our hands are tied in passing gun laws but for mental health, we can be leaders. This cut does not show leadership.”
Jacobs further told Anton Newspapers that there seemed to be agreement on both sides of the aisle when she raised this point at the legislative meeting on Monday, Dec. 17. She has also sent a letter to this effect to County Executive Edward Mangano.
“It is my strong belief that mental health services and the ability to recognize the need for mental health services for individuals in our society is equal to the passage of stricter gun laws. We need both but certainly we should not be cutting any services we had,” added Jacobs.
Meanwhile, similar to administrators at Syosset, Jericho, Plainview, and many other school districts who spoke to Anton Newspapers last week, Stephen H. Watters, headmaster of The Green Vale School in Old Brookville, reassured parents that security procedures were already strong and may be strengthened further. “Green Vale consistently reviews its safety and security procedures, works closely with the Old Brookville police and fire departments, has security cameras focused on all entrances, and employs two full-time security guards who are retired police officers,” said Watters.
“In light of this horrific event, we will conduct a systematic review of all safety protocols and implement appropriate changes to maintain our joyful and protected learning environment, one where fear and evil are kept at bay.”
While debates over security, mental health and gun control prompted by Newtown are bound to continue for some time, many think this is a good time to redouble our efforts in the pursuit of something thoroughly non-controversial: making sure young people have positive influences in their lives. Bob Eslick of Old Bethpage, co-founder of the charity Kids Helping Kids, believes that encouraging more young people to become involved with philanthropic projects could help stem the tide of violence.
“Kids need consistent positive reinforcement and with so many parents divorced, working long hours just to survive and make ends meet…if kids had their own peer groups to work together, to help others in need, things like this [shooting] wouldn’t even be considered—they would be too busy helping others,” said Eslick.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
Famous American painter Georgia O’Keeffe was the topic of discussion at the Plainview Old-Bethpage Public Library on Feb. 20.
Members of the audience were given an in-depth look into the life and artwork of O’Keeffe through a self-made and researched lecture and slideshow by art appraiser Louise Cella Caruso.
O’Keeffe lived for 98 years. Within her lifetime, she was granted the Medal of Arts by Ronald Regan, and in 1938, she was selected as one of the 12 most outstanding women of the previous 50 years. When she passed away she was accorded the honor of a first page obituary in the New York Times.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
In celebration of its tenth anniversary, the Kids of Distinction program is offering more scholarships and planning a festive gala that will look back on a decade of supporting our most civic-minded children. The Town of Oyster Bay and the Old Bethpage-based Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., the sponsoring entities, are seeking nominations of local youngsters who are standouts in public service for the 2014 awards.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, together with Kids Helping Kids co-founders Robert A.J. Eslick and Philip M. Eslick, kicked off the search for a new batch of “kids of distinction” at the end of February. Nominations are due by May 16. Winners will be recognized at a special ceremony held by the board of trustees on Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. with a citation from the Town and a $2,000 scholarship from Kids Helping Kids.