Community & School News September 2017

Important School Dates

September 7 – First day of school. Early dismissal for kindergarten. Partial day for Pre-K
September 8 – First full day for kindergarten. Partial day for Pre-K
September 19 – Archdiocesan Teacher Conference Day. No school for Catholic elementary school students
September 21-22 – Rosh Hashanah (public schools closed)

New Sensory Playground for Staten Island

Great news for kids with special needs! A sensory playground is coming to Staten Island. BP James Oddo joined with Council Member Joe Borelli and Borough Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone to announce the allocation of $4 million in taxpayer money for a playground at Prescott Playground in Huguenot that will be designed specifically for children with special needs.

A sensory play area provides opportunities for all children, including those with autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder, to develop physical coordination, social skills, and imaginative play behaviors in a shared, peer-play setting. Some of the examples of play structures that can be included are: sand and water play for tactile stimulation, bright and patterned shapes for visual, talk tubes and musical play panels for auditory, play equipment such as swings and roller tables for cognitive awareness of movement and behavior, and balance walkers or climbers for focus on balance and special orientation.

“We want to see all of Staten Island enjoying our parks, and we want all of our kids with varying degrees of abilities to enjoy our parks,” said BP Oddo. “I think this is a statement on our values that we want to get this playground built.” BP Oddo plans to form a working group from the special needs community to assist during the playground’s design phase. (photo credit:

The 10th Annual Westerleigh Folk Festival

Looking for some free family fun? The annual Westerleigh Folk Festival features beautiful art, educational workshops, live music and entertainment, and lots of family-friendly activities. Now in its tenth year, the festival will be held Saturday, September 16 from 11am to 7pm in Westerleigh Park. The event, which is free and open to the public, features three stages showcasing a variety of musical genres – including one that’s just for kids. This year’s performers include popular local favorites like Music with Patrick Raftery, S.I. Snugs, The Julia Gargano Band, The Northern Wrecks and many more. There will be free children’s activities such as face painting, balloons and pony rides (from noon to 2pm) as well as a special performance by Mrs. Rosemary’s Irish Step Dancers. Artists and craft vendors will be displaying and selling work along the North-Eastern Promenade of the park. Westerleigh Park is located at the corners of Neal Dow & Maine Ave. off Jewett Ave. The park is handicap accessible and street parking is available. Park seating is limited so bring a chair or blanket. Link to the Westerleigh Folk Festival website here.

2017-2018 School Calendars

They’re going baaaaack! School is officially back in session on Thursday, September 7. What’s in store for the upcoming school year? Check out the Public School and Catholic School calendars for 2017-2018 school year on page 50 of the September issue of Staten Island Parent. You can also view the calendars at siparent.comanytime by hovering on the “Preschools & Schools” tab at the top of our homepage and selecting Public Schools or Catholic schools. Public school families will also find the most recent Staten Island Directories for pre-k, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and high school, as well as gifted and talented resources, a tool for finding your zoned school, and information on procedures for emergency school closings. Link directly to this handy page at right here.

From Student to CEO

The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce Foundation Young Entrepreneurs Academy (SICCF YEA!) is once again offering business-minded high school students the chance to learn how to start and run their own real companies. The only program of its kind in New York City, students enrolled in the YEA! program learn from local business owners and educators to develop ideas, create business platforms and then deliver pitches to local investors. Upon completion of the program, students will be running their own businesses or social movement. The program is open to students in grades 9 through 12 from public, catholic or private schools. Click here to link to an application and learn more about this one-of-kind program for young business owners. The deadline to apply is September 15.

New Space for Hungerford School

One of Staten Island’s biggest District 75 schools is getting a major upgrade. NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña recently joined BP Oddo in unveiling the site for the new Richard H. Hungerford Building. The new building will be built at the Michael J. Petrides campus to ensure that students in the Hungerford School have easy access to a variety of campus facilities, including the gymnasium, athletic fields, and opportunities for inclusion.

The new state-of-the-art building will be fully-accessible to serve the specialized needs of all students, and will include several amenities to better accommodate students with disabilities, including braille signage in every room, elevators on all floors and wheelchair ramps. The building is slated to be ready by the 2021-2022 school year and will accommodate approximately 300 students.

The Hungerford school currently serves more than 400 students with disabilities in grades 6-12. The school was founded 50 years ago to support special needs students on Staten Island, and has since grown over to include several annexes and inclusion opportunities, as well as a work-study program for students ages 17-21.

Improving Traffic Flow

City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo recently announced a new ‘smart’ left-turn signal will be installed this month at the intersection of Hylan Boulevard heading onto Midland Avenue. The left-turn signal will be triggered by a wireless vehicle sensor embedded in the roadway.

“I have always believed that installing more left-turn signals is a smart way to improve safety and traffic flow, but this high-tech system makes left-turn signals even smarter. This new signal can detect whether vehicles are queued up for a left-turn and adjust accordingly, which will reduce wait times at the signal and allow through-traffic to flow smoothly,” Minority Leader Matteo said.

Of the 37 requests the Councilman has made for dedicated left-turn signals since he took office, 12 have been approved so far and several others are pending.

2017 Alex’s Million Miles

Did you know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation have once again teamed up to fight childhood cancer, one lap at a time. Every day, parents of children battling cancer travel thousands of miles to treatments; so for the thirty days of the September, the recreation center members, staff and community of Ocean Breeze will track the miles that they walked, biked and ran to help reach a nationwide goal of one million miles to symbolize the effort of everyone affected by this disease.

Last year, Team Ocean Breeze finished in 10th place out of 527 teams, with a total of 14,881 miles. The team also finished 94th out of 444 teams in fundraising with a total of $1,200.00.

Want to help out? Ocean Breeze visitors can stop by the front desk and log miles to contribute to their goal of 15,000 miles. If you would like to register to be part of the team or donate to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation go to

Paid Family Leave for New Yorkers

There is nothing more important than family, which is what makes New York’s new Paid Family Leave Program so exciting. According to Governor Cuomo, the landmark program will provide New Yorkers job-protected, paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition, or to help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. Employees are also entitled to be reinstated to their job when their leave ends and to the continuation of their health insurance during their leave. The program goes into effect starting January 1, 2018.

“There is a time in everyone’s lives where being there for a loved one in need is more important than anything and – finally – New Yorkers will no longer have to choose between losing their job and being a decent human being,” Governor Cuomo said. “By enacting and implementing the strongest paid family leave program in the nation, this administration is taking yet another step forward to providing economic justice to all New Yorkers.” Click here for more information about the program.

Bus Drivers Allowed to Use EpiPen

For thousands of children in New York, a routine school bus trip could turn into a life or death struggle when severe allergies or a bee sting trigger anaphylaxis shock. But now a bill sponsored by State Assemblyman David Buchwald will allow school bus company employees, and employees of other school contractors, to administer a life-saving dose of epinephrine. School bus drivers will be able to administer epinephrine using auto injectors such as the EpiPen that are carried by many of the children who are at risk for severe allergic responses.

“We previously passed legislation authorizing school officials to administer epinephrine auto injectors but most school bus drivers work for independent companies, not the school district,” explained Assemblyman Buchwald. “This legislation will authorize employees of firms providing services to school districts to deliver this vitally important protection to our youngsters who have severe allergies.”

Upcoming Art on the North Shore

Staten Island Arts, along with its Future Culture partner Design Trust for Public Space, recently announced the two pilot projects selected as part of Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island’s Waterfront. These projects aim to enrich the publicly and privately held open spaces of Staten Island’s North Shore. Both projects are set for 2018.

A team led by Staten Island-based composer/touring performer/media artist Volker Goetze will construct a series of sound sculptures at various sites along the waterfront, on Bay Street, and in Tappen Park, from St. George to Stapleton titled “Sonic Gates.” “My idea for Sonic Gates came from a desire to create something playful, beautiful, and inviting for everyone. It will be an adventure that is educational and fun for families, art and music lovers, and tourists alike.” said Goetze.

“Court Yard Fridays” features a series of weekend concerts in the summer of 2018 in the courtyard between Borough Hall and the old Supreme Court building to exhibit world-class performers with connections to Staten Island alongside local arts groups. “I shaped my proposal to address two recommendations: Activate underused public space and Amplify local culture. The Court Yard Gardens, tucked between Borough Hall and the old Supreme Court building, is an ideal concert environment – a park setting where Staten Island residents, ferry commuters and tourists can relax and enjoy music, conversation and local food.” said co-creator Kevin Washington, who is a Staten Island native, retired NYC Firefighter, and community organizer.

InterSchool Orchestra Auditions

Is there a talented young musician in your family? InterSchool Orchestras of New York (ISO) will hold open auditions for the fall semester on Sunday, September 10, 2017 in Manhattan at Pearl Studios (500 8th Avenue, 12th Floor) from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00p.m. Auditions are available for all six ISO orchestras, tiered from beginner through advanced, and two concert bands, intermediate and advanced. Children from all boroughs are encouraged to participate in auditions. Students will be asked to perform a piece of music, scales and to sightread. There are currently no openings for the flute or harp. Click here for more information, call (212) 410-0370 or link to the website at

The New York Cares Day for Schools

The 30th annual New York Cares Day for Schools will take place on Saturday, October 21 this year, a fundraising event that focuses on the beautification of NYC public schools in all five boroughs. This year, volunteers will spend the day painting, cleaning, and organizing in schools, ensuring NYC students have bright and safe learning spaces for the coming year. Want to join? Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. Click here to link to a signup form.

Museum Day Live!

The annual Museum Day Live will be held on Saturday, September 27. Museum Day Live, held by Smithsonian Magazine, is a day when participating museums nationwide open their doors to the public for free. Here in Staten Island, you can snag your two free tickets to Historic Richmond Town, The Noble Maritime Collection and the Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor. Over the bridge in Manhattan you can visit the New York City Fire Museum, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the Museum at FIT for free, among others. Head to New Jersey to check out the kid-friendly Newark Museum for free. You must present a Museum Live Ticket for free entrance to participating museum. Click here to find out how to claim your tickets.

Giving Thanks by Giving Back

Starting September through December, holiday shoppers can #GiveThanks for the healthy children in their lives by supporting those in need. 2017 marks the 14th annual St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign. St. Jude products for the whole family are featured at Every gift sold from the campaign will directly benefits the families and children of St. Jude.