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Wheatley School Puts On The Laramie Project

“Hate is not a Wheatley value.” That was one of the slogans cast members donned on the large pins they wore to school attached to black outfits to signal the premier of their play The Laramie Project, which recently took place at the Wheatley School in Old Westbury.


This was no run-of-the-mill, happy-go-lucky, elaborate musical. Rather, it was an incredibly serious undertaking, especially for high schoolers.


The play tackled the real-life kidnapping, brutal beating and murder of an openly gay University of Wyoming college student, Matthew Shepard. The Laramie Project was created by Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of New York’s Tectonic Theater Company from more than 200 interviews with local residents recounting the event. The drama illuminates how this one horrific act reverberated throughout the world.


“This year marks the 15th anniversary of Matthew’s murder and presents the Wheatley community a unique opportunity to have an important conversation about bullying, tolerance and human rights,” said Colin McKenna, Wheatley English teacher and the show’s director. “In addition to the important social impact of the play, this docudrama also gave our students a chance to interact with living history and well-sourced research.”


Westbury’s Aly Brier, along with Julia Cooper, Amanda Liparoto, Morgan Misk and Neil Shahdadpuri from Old Westbury joined 13 other students on the stage to portray over almost 70 different characters.


“Someone once told me theater is social change and I think that’s really true,” said Misk, a sophomore who played several roles in the play. “I loved getting an inside look at not just telling the story, but telling how it affected so many people and it really touched my heart.”


The theater group performed the drama Nov. 21-23 to transfixed crowds. The school’s Gay Straight Alliance welcomed theatergoers to the performances with rainbow ribbons, had discussions about human rights and also sold T-shirts.


After the opening performance on Thursday, Wheatley sophomore Andrew Schloss, who attended the show with several members of Temple Sinai’s Generation Equality group, said that the performance was “a powerful and moving play about how a small amount of hate by very few can destroy an entire community and change a nation’s opinion on previously sensitive matters. It is a drama that speaks to the heart.”


Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.


In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.


“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.

The Westbury Historical Society will host Dr. Natalie Naylor, professor emerita at Hofstra University and author of Women in Long Island’s Past: Eminent Ladies and Everyday Lives at their next meeting on March 9. 


Naylor’s presentation will focus on the place of women in Long Island’s history, including several prominent women from Westbury’s past.  


Albertson resident and Kellenberg sophomore Gabby Schreib qualified for the Millrose Games in New York City. Schreib qualified as a member of the Sprint Medley Relay along with Danielle Correia, Bridget McNierney, and Jazmine Fray. 


The Kellenberg relay’s close second place finish in January’s Millrose Trials has moved them closer to defending the title they won in the same relay at last year’s Millrose Games. Schreib and her teammates time is currently second in the United States for girls track and field performances.

Congratulations to Westbury athletes Michael Esposito, Eileen Harris, Brett Harris, and Michael Going, each of whom won awards in Race # 1 of the Jonas Chiropractic Run Nassau Series co-hosted by Nassau County and the Greater Long Island Running Club.


Michael Esposito, age 15, took home the second place award in the 15-19 age group with a time of 23 minutes, 6 seconds.  Eileen Harris, age 42, earned the first place award in the women’s 40-44 age group.  She completed the race with her 45 year old husband, Brett Harris, who was the third place award winner in the men’s 45-49 age group.  Michael Going, age 41, scored third place honors in the 40-44 age group with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.


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