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By Janice Llanes Fabry

Rye Neck Middle School gave author Nora Raleigh Baskin a warm welcome on September 26. Having read her novel, “Anything But Typical,” in a schoolwide assignment over the summer, Principal Eric Lutinski, teachers, and students alike became well acquainted with its protagonist, an autistic 12-year-old boy, as well as with its overriding themes of empathy and acceptance.

During three PTSA sponsored assemblies in the Performing Arts Center, Baskin revealed much of her personal background to demonstrate the profound resemblance between author and main character.

As Library Media Specialist Linda Costelloe put it, “Nora Raleigh Baskin’s ability to articulate the incredible obstacles she had to overcome on her journey to becoming an author, plus her brutal honesty, were so moving.”

Baskin’s mother committed suicide when she was 3. Later, she was abandoned by her father, then her stepmother, and exposed to domestic abuse. “I was a really angry, confused sixth grader,” admitted Baskin, who bounced from school to school.

Upon landing in New Paltz Middle School, she found her niche. A sixth grade Language Arts teacher made an impact by reading aloud a story she had written for the class.

“In that moment, my life changed. I decided I wanted to be a writer,” Baskin recalled. “John Thomsen made a real difference in my life.”

Baskin started out with autobiographical novels before turning to different subjects. When embarking on “Anything But Typical,” she learned all there is to know about autism through extensive research and personal accounts. She also did a lot of soul searching.

“I decided the book had to be about empathy, not sympathy, and about acceptance, not tolerance,” Baskin remarked. “I didn’t want to be tolerated as a kid, but I wanted to be accepted.”

For the schoolwide read, guidance counselors Meegan Lawlor and Christopher Spillane tied the visit to the district’s Anti-Defamation League No Place for Hate program. “Projects like this help to highlight empathy and acceptance which help to create a positive school climate for all,” noted Lawlor. (RNMS is a gold star No Place for Hate school.)

She and eighth grade English teacher Cathy Toolan put together lessons that culminated in the students creating posters with “Anything But Typical” themes that hang in the Community Room. The students were also invited to write an essay entitled, “Why I want to have lunch with Nora Raleigh Baskin.” After the assemblies, 21 students had lunch with the author, talking about how the book affected them all the while.

Costelloe noted, “Teachers prepared the students so thoroughly with class discussions and activities that ensured they understood the many layers and nuances of the story.”

In addition to discussing the book’s subject matter, the prolific and award-winning author gave young aspiring writers advice. “There are two levels inside a story, the emotional journey and the conflict. For the emotional part, look inside your heart and soul to connect to your main character,” she suggested. “Walk in every character’s shoes.”

The Rye Youth Soccer Boys U14 teams played during halftime at the Harvard Yale Division 1 Soccer game in New Haven on September 30. Rye’s own Jared Small, the Harvard Men’s Soccer Assistant Coach, and a few of the Crimson players spent time celebrating their 2-1 victory over Yale with our boys.

Coach Jared Small, center back row, with Rye and Harvard players

Rye Youth Soccer players at the Harvard-Yale game

 

Congratulations to Rye Country Day seniors, from left, Alonzo Diaz, Mariana Sabogal, Sabrina Sawhney>>, and <<Diogo Schaffa>> who were selected as National Hispanic Scholars as part of the National Hispanic Recognition Program. These students scored in the top 2.5 percent among Hispanic and Latino PSAT/NMSQT test-takers in our region.

The week leading up to the legendary, now 88-year football matchup between Rye and Harrison is one of the most fun of the year at One Parsons Street. The Garnets have a schedule of themes that the students take to heart. They pull out the leis for Hawaiian Day; cover themselves in red, white, and blue for Patriotic Day; don pink and green for Preppie Day; get creative with Decades Day; and at the end of the week, cover themselves head to toe in the school colors for Garnet and Black Day. And each grade participates in the hall decorating contest.

Principal Patty Taylor sums up the celebrated week, “I look forward to the Rye/Harrison tradition each year. It is the excitement and involvement of the students that brings a new energy to this event.”

  • Annette McLoughlin

Over two days last month, the parishioners of Resurrection Church raised $20,000 to donate to their sister parish and school in Houston, Texas.

The Resurrection Catholic School in Houston experienced damage and subsequently fell prey to vandalism following Hurricane Harvey. Despite the challenges, the school was able to reopen on September 18, soon after the floods subsided. They further helped their community by taking in 96 displaced students from nearby schools.

As the storm’s devastation was reported, Monsignor Donald Dwyer of Resurrection reached out to Father Oscar Dubon in Houston to see what could be done to help. That week, an appeal was made for funds to help the school replace ruined books and lost school supplies.  

After sending the donation, Msgr. Dwyer thanked Resurrection parishioners “for providing for our sister school in Houston and ultimately helping those school families whose lives were impacted by the hurricane. Your compassion and generosity are admirable and heartwarming.”

In addition to the donation from the parishioners, Resurrection School has organized a Coin-A-Day Challenge to buy Scholastic Books for Resurrection Houston students.

Before the month of September was over, and while the needs were most dire, collections were taken up in various forms by Rye’s elementary schools, for schools seriously impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Midland acted swiftly, adopting two schools and gathering much-needed basic school supplies. They not only collected and filled eleven boxes, but the students wrote thoughtful notes and drew pictures of support.

Milton also adopted two schools. They used the timing of their annual book fair to hold a simultaneous book drive to help restore classrooms and school libraries.

Osborn teamed up with Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, which will be working alongside the damaged Texas schools to meet their specific needs. Rather than collect books or school supplies, the children were asked to bring in their own money or perform chores at home to raise money.

  • Annette McLoughlin