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Mad Hatter Show at Head Start in Scotchtown

RECAP Head Start releases annual report

MIDDLETOWN  (June 27) - RECAP’s Western Orange County Head Start announced the release of the program’s 2016 Annual Report. The full-color 23-page book includes a profile of the communities served, proposed budget, expenditures, school readiness goals, and details about parent involvement.

Highlights include kindergarten preparation efforts, job training, and teacher qualifications. Students surpassed GOLD Readiness Benchmarks in all areas including social emotional, physical, literacy and mathematical, language and cognitive areas. The school provides comprehensive services to the entire family, including job training, in which 99 families participated. 100 percent of teachers at the three schools have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  

“This report helps the public, lawmakers, and funding sources see the results of the services we provide in our classrooms. We’ve been working hard to give students a head start as they enter kindergarten, and help families reach their goals,“ said Heather Decker, Director of Early Childhood Development, who oversees the three schools in Orange County. The report can be found at

Schools are accepting applications for the fall school year. The schools, in Middletown, Scotchtown and Port Jervis, offer free federally-funded preschool for children ages 3 and 4 from families who meet income guidelines. Ten percent of enrollment is reserved for children with disabilities including severe disabilities.

Children must be age 3 by December 1, 2017 and family must meet federal income guidelines. Transportation may be available. Interested applicants may call (845) 343-4191 for information or visit to print an application. Prompt enrollment is recommended and families are encouraged to contact staff for assistance.


Yeshiva Darchei Emunah Munkacs students: Tzvi Abrahamowitz, Elimelech Brown,
Hershy Gruenbaum, Tzvi Kahana, Joshua Kleinberger, Abraham Stark and David Weissman.

Yeshiva students encouraged to share projects

NEW CITY (June 22) - Fourth-graders at the Yeshiva Darchei Emunah Munkacs were recognized Tuesday during a ceremony led by Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder.

The students were among the participants in this year’s Yeshiva Education Expo in Brooklyn, which was sponsored by the Yeshiva Principal Association. More than 100 students from 10 area schools participated in the expo, which is designed to showcase innovative approaches to teaching general studies in yeshivas, according to published reports.

Legislator Wieder had the opportunity to attend the expo, held Sunday, and wanted to honor the local students for their efforts.

“It was heart-warming to see students from private yeshivas presenting their exhibits, ranging from science to history to commerce,” Wieder said. “They were done with such detail and perfection, and the students had so much pride in the work that they have done.”

In addition to Yeshiva Darchei Emunah Munkacs, a second Rockland school, Yeshiva Adas Yereim Vein, also participated. Students from Yeshiva Darchei Emunah Munkacs joined legislators Tuesday, bringing their projects for display, including those on Africa, the oceans, Europe and more.



Monroe-Woodbury’s Phoebe Balousek awarded 2017 Human Rights Scholarship

GOSHEN (June 22) - Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus and Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission Inaudy Esposito announced that Monroe-Woodbury senior Phoebe Balousek is the recipient of the 2017 Human Rights Scholarship award.

“Phoebe is a role-model for other students and we are all proud to present her with this scholarship,” Neuhaus said. “She represents everything that the Human Rights Commission stands for and we are pleased to recognize Phoebe. She is a caring, civic-minded young woman and I wish her good luck and much success in her future endeavors.”

To qualify for the $1,000 scholarship, students must demonstrate respect and understanding of all racial, religious and ethnic groups. They are also required to initiate and/or participate in programs(s) that foster human rights awareness in their school or residential community.

Balousek is a member of the Black History Celebration Committee at Monroe-Woodbury and helped put together an assembly to celebrate diversity and culture during Black History Month in February. She will attend SUNY New Paltz in the fall and major in Psychology.



Minisink High School graduate Kathryn Heilfurth awarded healthcare scholarship

TOWN OF WALLKILL (June 22) – Crystal Run Healthcare’s Chief Operating Officer,  Michelle Koury, MD, and Chief Human Resources Officer, Mary DeFreitas, BBA, MPS, presented Minisink High School Senior, Kathryn Heilfurth with the Crystal Run Healthcare Scholarship in the amount of $1,500 at the Middletown Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Club recent scholarship award dinner. This year’s scholarship presentation is the fifth consecutive year that Crystal Run has offered it, in partnership with the Middletown BPW, and is one of numerous scholarships that the practice has given to local high school students pursuing higher education in a healthcare related field since 2005.

Kathryn Heilfurth is a 2017 graduate of Minisink High School and will attend East Stroudsburg University this fall semester, where she will major in Nursing. Ms. Heilfurth was selected to receive this scholarship based on her academic performance, community involvement, and her interest in healthcare.

“On behalf of the practice, I am pleased to present Kathryn with this year’s healthcare scholarship.  Not only has Ms. Heilfurth excelled in academics, but she is dedicated to furthering her career in healthcare and helping others, which is why we are honored to present her with this year’s scholarship,” said Dr. Michelle Koury, Chief Operating Officer at Crystal Run Healthcare.


Emma and Sen. Larkin

Seventh grader’s Memorial Day weekend mission

VALLEY CENTRAL (May 29) - State Senator Bill Larkin (R-C-I, 39th District) met with Emma Schoenherr at his district office and together they put together a mission for her to complete by Memorial Day. Emma had been taken back by the fact that there were not enough American Flags for every classroom in her Middle School so she decided to organize her friends and then call her local Senator Bill Larkin. 

“I knew that Senator Larkin was a Veteran of World War II because we learned that in school,” said Schoenherr.  “I knew that as a Senator and as a Veteran he could help guide me as I put together my Memorial Day mission to have an American Flag in every classroom by Flag Day.”

“Through her actions and her patriotism Emma reminds us that there some young patriots out there who will continue to take pride in our country,” said Senator Larkin. “That means a great deal to me as a Veteran and I know that Emma will work hard and reach her goal by Memorial Day.”

The first phone call that Senator Larkin had Emma make was to his friend Bill Kaplan, who along with Larkin committed to be Emma’s first donations to her cause.  Emma was thankful for the donations but would not accept the total goal amount.  It was important for her to engage her fellow students and her community in her effort.

After they got off the phone the Senator and Emma decided a GoFund me page would be the best way forward.  Senator Larkin also made a phone call to the local flag store in New Windsor, “The Flag Guys” and spoke to the owner Al  Cavalari to ensure that the flags could be ordered in time for Flag Day.

I was happy to learn that this topic is something that was already being discussed so we brought it up at our next Student Government Association (SGA) meeting,” said Emma.  After the meeting, we as a group decided to take this on as a project.  

"It's not about the money but a committment to your country and the cause,” said Larkin.  “This effort is about patriotism.  Follow your heart and you can't go wrong."


Keynote speaker Bran Tew

ORMC holds cyber security seminar and training for the Mid-Hudson School Study Council

TOWN OF WALLKILL (May 30) - Orange Regional Medical Center recently held a Red Team Cyber Security Training Seminar for the Mid-Hudson School Study Council, which represents five counties and 25 school districts.

The training seminar was led by Chairman of Orange Regional Medical Center’s Board of Directors, Don Beeler, and Orange Regional Medical Center Chief Information Officer, Brian Tew, who was the keynote speaker.

In the world of information technology, Red Teams challenge operations in order to discover any weaknesses in electronic systems before real adversaries do. They test existing conditions, temper complacency and identify future training needs within organizations.

Red Team training is geared toward technical directors and supervisors, office personnel and technical teams. The purpose of the training is for organizations to learn best practices and tools needed to mitigate exposure to cyber breaches and security lapses. Additionally, the training provides tips on how to motivate all staff to adhere to security protocol and how to test the effectiveness of staff training.  Additionally, Mr. Tew talked about the impact and evolution of cyber security and Orange Regional’s approach to protection.


Teacher Heather Millman with students in the classroom at Port Jervis Head Start

RECAP Head Start preschools enrolling for fall

MIDDLETOWN (May 22) - Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP)’s Head Start schools are accepting applications for the fall school year. The schools, in Middletown, Scotchtown and Port Jervis, offer free federally-funded preschool for children ages 3 and 4 from families who meet income guidelines. Ten percent of enrollment is reserved for children with disabilities including severe disabilities. Prompt enrollment is recommended and families are encouraged to contact staff for assistance.

Head Start programs support the comprehensive development of children in the learning centers and in their own homes. Development-focused services include early learning through instruction, health education including meals and dental support, and family well-being as parents are encouraged to achieve their own goals, such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security.  Programs support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development.

RECAP’s programs include nutrition and advocacy, Head Start, addiction services, supportive housing, Fresh Start Café, and parole reentry. The agency was established in 1965 after President Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union Address a year earlier encouraged Americans to eradicate poverty and build a “Great Society.” A model called the Community Action Program was created and agencies sprung up across the country.

RECAP celebrated 50 years of services in the Hudson Valley in 2015. Visit for information about programs, fundraisers and events.


Man’s best friend: therapy dogs give Mount students an end of semester boost

NEWBURGH (May 3) – Trained therapy dogs provided a break for students, faculty, and staff at Mount Saint Mary College on May 2 at the Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center.

The animals came to the Mount via Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause. The popular event has become a tradition at Mount Saint Mary College.

Research has indicated that watching, petting, or talking to an animal can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Interacting with animals can also reduce mental distress, and lower anxiety levels – for example, during finals for college students.

For more information, visit


NFA Varsity Crew scrimmages against O'Neill

NEWBURGH - The NFA Varsity Crew team hosted a scrimmage on Friday, April 28.  It would be the first time the NFA novice rowers participated in a competition.  As the novices carried there crew shells down to the docks, you wondered what was going through their minds - What if the boat tips?, What if I catch a crab?, What did Coach say about hand positions on the oar? or maybe they were feeling the exhilaration of their first race.  It takes courage to enter the Hudson as a novice rower.  The water is always in a different place every time the blade of your oar enters the water, but every rower put their training into play and gave it their all.

The team's varsity girls and boys 8+ boats came in first place and glided to victory as their pars hit the water simultaneously.  It was a graceful water dance that impressed several onlookers on the shore.  Tyler McCormack, a senior rower in the boys varsity 8+ summed up his race by saying, "Considering that the current was against us, the boat towed very well.  I could feel the power of all the rowers working together and I know that as the season progresses, we will only get stronger."

The NFA Varsity Crew team has a busy competition weekend ahead of them as does every other Hudson Valley Rowing League team. 


Dutchess School Bus Driver of the Year Award

POUGHKEEPSIE (April 26) - Wendy Travis, of the Wappingers Central School District, has been named the winner of the 16th annual Dutchess County School Bus Driver of the Year Award, recognizing of her exemplary service and safety record. The award is part of the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board’s efforts to promote school bus safety and is given in conjunction with the launch of the annual Operation Safe Stop Project supported by the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.   

Travis, center, with fellow drivers and district officials

 “The safety of our students is our paramount concern, and throughout Dutchess County, dedicated bus drivers in every school district share that responsibility, dutifully protecting our children on their way to and from school,” said Dutchess County Marcus Molinaro. “Today, we thank those drivers who safeguard our students daily, and we remind all drivers to please stop when they see the flashing red lights of a school bus. That extra moment can save the life of a child.”

Travis, who has been employed by the Wappingers Central School District for 29 years, was presented with a commemorative plaque and honored as the School Bus Driver of the Year at the Operation Safe Stop kickoff press conference at the Wappinger Central School District’s Fishkill Plains bus compound.

“Mrs. Travis is a model driver who understands and embraces what it is to be a school bus driver – not just what it takes to drive a school bus,” said Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board Administrator William Johnson.

The Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board’s School Bus Driver of the Year award seeks to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts. The annual award was initiated in 2002 to increase public awareness regarding school bus safety issues and to recognize school bus drivers who get children to and from school safely on a daily basis. 


L-R: Kathleen Houghtaling; L.A. Branch, Prevention Projects Coordinator, Catholic Charities;
Stephanie Canales; Martin Colavito, Director of Prevention Services, Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities of Orange and Sullivan presents awards for 23rd annual poster contest

MONTICELLO (April 24) - Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan hosted the awards ceremony for the 23rd Annual Alcohol, Tobacco, Gambling, and Drug Abuse Poster Contest at the Sullivan County Government Center last Friday. Luis Alvarez, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature, provided the opening remarks welcoming students, parents, and teachers to the event. The annual contest, hosted in recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, celebrates the creative and artistic talent of Sullivan County students while promoting an important message of prevention.

The theme for this year’s poster contest was: “I’m the Best Me; When Choosing To Be: Alcohol, Tobacco, Gambling & Drug Free!” The grand prize winner for the Spanish language poster was Stephanie Canales, a 9th grader from Fallsburg Junior/Senior High School. Kathleen Houghtaling, a 10th grader also from Fallsburg, won the grand prize for the English language poster. The grand prize posters were professionally printed and are being distributed to school districts, businesses, and non-profit and government agencies throughout Sullivan County.

“It is thanks to the participating students, schools, art teachers, and businesses that the poster contest is a success each year,” said Martin Colavito, Catholic Charities Director of Prevention Services. “In creating their posters, the students take time to reflect on the theme and the issues of addiction and abuse. They present the message in a way that is meaningful to themselves and their peers. The contest continues to be a successful way to promote the benefits of prevention.”

In addition to the grand prizes, awards were presented for first, second, and third prize, as well as honorable mention. Award categories were grades 1-4, 5-8, and 9 – 12. Participating schools were Benjamin Cosor Elementary (Fallsburg), Fallsburg Jr./Sr. High School, George Ross MacKenzie Elementary School (Eldred), and Liberty High School.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a strong supporter of addiction and recovery services, also attended the ceremony to view the posters and extend her congratulations to this year’s winners. Gunther serves as Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Mental Health. 

Catholic Charities Prevention Services has offices in both Orange and Sullivan Counties and maintains a presence in 37 schools. Last year, the program provided community outreach, education, and training to 26,000 individuals.





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