Students in grades 10 to 12, throughout Orange County, were eligible to enter the third annual Stop Hate essay contest, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, the Newburgh Ministry, Inc., and the Orange County Human Rights Commission. Of all the participants, Cornwall High School sophomore Olivia Perez was declared the winner.
“Winning the contest is very overwhelming because I was one essay out of so many in all of Orange County,” Perez said. “The fact I won really showed me if I put my heart to it, I can do it. I felt proud to be from Cornwall and be able to do that.”
The purpose of the contest is to promote tolerance and understanding through education. This year’s topic focused on the issue of refugees, by comparing the plight of Syrian refugees with that of Jews just before the Holocaust of World War II.
English teacher Kelly Robinson-Finn told her students about the essay contest at the end of March. Perez was one of Robinson-Finn’s advanced students who opted to enter.
Kathryn Gagnon is the third sibling to receive the Sands Award for the highest grade point average among graduating eighth graders.
Cornwall Middle School might want to think about changing the name of the Sands Award to the Gagnon Award.
To date, three of the six siblings who have graduated from eighth grade, have received the award for highest grade point average in their class. The latest recipient is Kathryn. She follows her sister, Megan, who received the award in 2011, and her brother, Jonathan, who earned it last year.
“I was really happy,” Gagnon said when she heard her name announced at the moving up ceremony last week. “I couldn’t stop smiling. It was just amazing to walk up on stage and receive that applause.”
Gagnon wasn’t aware she’d be receiving the award until that night, but it was something she’s been working toward.
Throughout the year, Gagnon knew she had a high grade point average, but so did her friends. Her average after three quarters was a 99 or 100.
Before entering the Star Lab, Lisa DiMarzo discusses the various constellations that can be seen in the night sky.
Before the school year ended, students in Cornwall-on-Hudson Elementary school received a special visit. Lisa DiMarzo, founder of Impact Education, brought her portable planetarium and treated the kids to a sky show, in the gymnasium.
The Star Lab is a 20-foot wide inflated planetarium with a dome that allows those inside to see the stars and constellations. Using a projector, DiMarzo is able to show the exact position of the stars on any given day. She can put the stars in motion to show their nightly progression from east to west.
Surrounding Principal Kate Palumbo are essay writers Catherine Lawrence and Justin Vreeland. Both of them spoke at the June 21 Moving Up Exercises at the middle school.
Did parents influence Mrs. Polumbo? After welcoming the guests at the Wednesday night moving up ceremony, the middle school principal addressed the eighth-graders. “You’re leaving us taller, funnier and smarter than when you entered,” she said.
She advised the students to be “humble and kind,” and to “clean their rooms” — which got a laugh of appreciation from the fathers and mothers in the audience.
There were other light moments on Wednesday night. Superintendent of Schools Neal Miller offered a humorous look at his junior high school days. In seventh and eighth-grades, he wore a collared shirt and a short sleeve sweater every day. He felt self-conscious without them.
Quinn Skinner attended the Cornwall-on-Hudson Elementary School’s production of “Annie, Jr.” and was inspired to organize a service project to help local foster children.
Quinn, a first grader in the village school, didn’t know what an orphan was, so she started asking questions. The answers convinced Quinn she wanted to help.
“I felt sad that foster children don’t have a mommy or a daddy or a home,” Quinn wrote in a letter requesting donations. “Foster children usually only have a garbage bag to carry all their things. But we can change that if we help them.”
First she wanted to invite them over to dinner and have a sleepover, said Quinn’s mother, Mikki, but they decided to use the internet to find more feasible ways to lend a hand. Through Google, they came across some foster agencies which led them to the organization Together we Rise and the idea to put together duffel bags.
Over the last month, Master Gardeners from the Cornell Cooperative Extention have been meeting with the third grade classes, at Cornwall Elementary School, and assisting them in the garden adjacent to the school.
The third graders at Cornwall Elementary School got a little bit of a late start, but they should still be able to sample the produce they planted in their garden before the school year ends.
Last month, Master Gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension met with each of the five third grade classes to help them plant lettuce, radishes, and spinach. They were du to return for two more sessions – one toward the end of May and another in June.
Cornwall High School graduate and New York University student, Livi Perrone, wrote a musical and will be bringing it to the Motorcyclepedia Museum, in Newburgh. “Happily the Musical” will be performed at 8 p.m. on June 30.
Livi Perrone, a 2016 Cornwall High School graduate, is no stranger to theater. She wrote her first original work when she was 13-years-old and has since written a number of adapted plays and musicals for young performers. Having completed her first year at New York University, for dramatic writing, Perrone has written an original musical, with Emmy award-winning composer, Sean P. Pallatroni, and will be bringing it to Orange County later this month.
“Happily the Musical” will be performed, by local actors and actresses, at 8 p.m. on June 30 at the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh. Tickets will be available at the door.
Cornwall Middle School social studies teacher Jeff Danzer helped mentor eighth grader Zach Slichta, who took bronze in the state National History Day competition.
Zach Slichta was one of 12 Cornwall Middle School students to represent the district in the state National History Day competition on April 24, but he was the only one to walk away with a medal. Slichta placed third in the Junior Division, taking home a bronze medal.
“It feels great,” Slichta said. “I was actually really surprised. I am disappointed I didn’t get first or second but I was so surprised at the moment and so happy that I did place.”
Slichta entered the competition, first regionals then states, with his web site on the stand for black power Tommie Smith and John Carlos took during the 1968 Olympics.
“The revolt of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics was a stand in history that shook the world,” Slichta wrote. “In a time of unrest in the U.S. and after the recent assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., these two men protested at the perfect time. With millions watching the Olympics across the world, this protest was in a perfect place as well.”
To come up with the idea, Slichta took particular interest in one of the historical photos his social studies teacher, Jeff Danzer, has hanging in the eighth grade wing of the school.
On April 25, Amanda Greenblatt’s French Class dedicated a peace pole it received from the Rotary Club. The pole will be part of the high school’s organic garden.
Students in Amanda Greenblatt’s French class took part in a colorful ceremony on an otherwise gloomy Tuesday morning. They gathered on the dirt in the organic garden and stood in a circle that was marked by small flags from many nations. In the center, three students held up a large pole with the words “Let there be peace on Earth” in many languages.
The pole was a gift from the local Rotary Club. But why was a high school French class involved and not a math, science or history class? The answer dates back to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015.
Charles Quinn and Nina Creta were among the two dozen volunteers who assisted in breaking down the garden at the high school. June 10 has been set as the target date for the completion of a new organic garden.
A light rain fell, but that didn’t deter the two dozen volunteers from tearing down the Cornwall High School garden in preparation for a new organic garden.
On Earth Day, students in the Environmental Club teamed up with the senior French students to begin dismantling the beds and removing mulch and weeds. The wood is going to be recycled and repurposed through a local recycling center. The mulch was composted at the school.