Young activist’s rallying cry

Andrew Goldman speaks with student journalists from the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute , on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, about his upcoming Rally to End Gun Violence on July 29. (Photo by Caroline Ledoux.)

By Chelsea Sibri
The Scholars’ Academy

Andrew Goldman, a recent 18-year-old Syosset High School graduate, is not unfamiliar with the political scene and what it takes to make a social change.

“As Americans, every single person—really everyone around the world—should have the right to voice their opinions, voice their beliefs, whatever they are,” Goldman said. His social activism stems from a gunman’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February. The shootings had a profound impact on him, as fellow students at his high school knew people affected by the massacre. He said he felt the need for change.

“After Parkland, that’s when my activism itself started,” said the incoming freshman at the University of Michigan. “When we worked on the walkout memorial at my school. I was able to start working with the March for Our Lives rally” in March, Goldman said. “I felt like it was my responsibility to get something going. A lot of work went into it, making sure that we were going to be able to do this in a safe way. It was an incredible experience, standing up for what we believe in.”

Goldman played a key part in setting up his school’s memorial and walkout. About 2,000 students ended up participating, he said. It was a grand taste of success, but it did not satisfy his appetite. He decided to become more involved and joined a task force working to end gun violence.

“Our goal is really a simple one: to end gun violence. Another one of our main goals is a call to action to ensure that every student across Long Island and across the country mobilizes. Whether that is if you’re old enough to vote, to make sure you go out to vote. If you’re not, have a letter-writing campaign, talk to your friends or parents who can vote, call your congressman, call your senator, to voice your opinion on the issue,” Goldman said. “We just want to empower young people.”

Even before beginning his career in social activism, he had been involved in political internships with different senators and officials and was able to experience Congress itself as a rising senior in 2017. He is currently an intern for U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi.

“Last summer I was actually able to work as a Senate page in D.C., which was an amazing experience where I was able to work on the floor of the Senate, right in the midst of the healthcare debate,” Goldman said. “And I really saw how Congress works.”

With all he has accomplished already, Goldman still shares common interests with most teenagers.

“I like to play the ukulele,” he said. “My ukulele’s name is Lola. I like The Beatles, Chance the Rapper.”

As for college, he intends to major in philosophy, politics and economics when he attends the University of Michigan in the fall.

“Overall, in my work experience, I’ve done public service and I think I want to continue that after college,” Goldman said. “What that ends up leading to, I guess time will tell.”

Goldman is helping to organize the End Gun Violence rally at Breezy Park in Huntington set for July 29. He encourages everyone to attend, especially young people.

“The tagline of this event is, #YourVoteYourVoice.’ That feeling when you get to register someone to vote is amazing because you’re given the opportunity to ensure that their voice is heard in the most fundamental way.”


Yash Kumar contributed to this report.

Gun reform activists plan rally on July 29

Caroline Suozzi (center) with Sarah Silverstein (right) and Andrew Goldman (left) from Rep. Thomas Suizzui’s office are planning a gun reform rally on July 29th. (Photo by Caroline Ledoux)

By Zoe Gordon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

On a small Pacific island named Yap, where Rep. Thomas Suozzi’s daughter was educating children, Caroline Suozzi and her students were inspired by the activism they saw in the United States after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. When they read about current events, Caroline Suozzi felt as if the whole world was watching change being made.

“We were told very often about gun violence in the United States,” she said. “They were so inspired that young people were taking action.”

After the Parkland tragedy in February, Suozzi felt a strong connection with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She saw students standing up to politicians, fighting for their right to live.

“The whole world is paying attention,” she said.

While students from Parkland were planning the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., a group of student activists, along with Suozzi and her father, were creating a sister march in Long Island. More than 1,500 people attended the Long Island rally on March 24, and they advocated for gun reform and safety in schools.

“After Parkland, I knew I had to do something,” student activist and recent Syosset High School graduate Andrew Goldman said. “As students, we are turning our thoughts and prayers into action for change. We’re pulling out every stop.”

After the protest, the Long Island activists wanted to continue the momentum, Carolyn Suozzi said.

“They came back and said we want to to keep this conversation going,” she added. “This time it’s a call to action. It’s also to emphasize the importance of registering to vote.”

Caroline Suozzi and Long Island students are planning a rally in Breezy Park, Huntington, on July 29 to coincide with the Road to Change rallies created by March for Our Lives activists. The rally will feature two speakers from the families of student Jaime Guttenberg and teacher and coach, Scott Beigel, who both had Long Island connections and were killed in the Parkland shooting.

The key emphasis of this rally will be to register and motivate young adults to vote. The organizers of the rally are using social media and putting up flyers in every town in Thomas Suozzi’s district, hoping to attract a thousand people.

“The way to bring about change is voting,” said Sarah Silverstein, of the Thomas Suozzi campaign team.

Staller photo exhibit gives filmgoers a new perspective

By Taylor Yon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

and Nijha Young
Baldwin High School

Moviegoers attending the Stony Brook Film Festival this month are also in for a second visual treat. The Faces and Places: Photographs from the Kellerman Family exhibit at the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery in the Staller Center runs parallel to the 10-day independent film festival, so attendees can visit while on campus.

The collection consists of more than 60 still photographs — in black and white and color — taken by 10 internationally renowned photographers including Walter Iooss, Kristin Capp, Ralph Gibson, and James Nachtwey. Iooss’ work features sports stars at rest and in action while Capp’s focuses on the humanity of people from around the world.

Karen Levitov, curator and director of the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University looks at photos of the Faces and Places exhibit on Friday, July 20. The exhibit features the work of famous photographers and encourages viewers to consider different cultures. (Photo by Brianna Depra.)

“I felt that these were very strong works by some really well-known fine art and documentary photographers,” said Karen Levitov, curator and director of the Zuccaire Gallery. “I’m really compelled by the work of Kristin Capp, who is a photojournalist. She has gone to Brazil and many other places around the world, capturing the people and the places in different areas.”

Levitov added that there were a number of other photographers whose work inspires viewers to consider different cultures worldwide.

The gallery is open and admission is free during the film festival from July 19 to 28 and August 27 to September 29.

Filmgoers may find the art experience both convenient and informative. One visitor said the art gave her a new perspective on the modern world.

“It lets people see the world in a way that’s different perhaps than the speed of everything that’s happening around them in terms of crazy politics, crazy social situations,” Corinna Kirsch of Conroe, Texas said. “It allows you to step back and to be able to imagine the world differently. It’s very important.”

Photos to Stay on Campus

After the exhibit closes in September, the photographs will find their way to many departments across campus for wider viewing. The photos were donated to Stony Brook University by alumna Katherine King Kellerman, whose family collected them over many years. The Kellerman family was motivated by the thought that the pieces could be enjoyed by a much broader audience, Levitov said, adding that the artwork will be distributed throughout the campus.

“After this, we’ll take this down, repaint the walls and put up a faculty exhibition,” she said. That exhibit will feature the photographic works of the Studio Art faculty.

Dentist at your doorstep

Dr. Rhona Sherwin is the director of pediatric outreach at the Stony Brook School of Dentistry. (Photo by Jenn Cirigliano.)

By Adeishe Bagaloo
Uniondale High School

and Christian Miller
St. John the Baptist High School

For dentist Rhona Sherwin, nothing matters more than helping children.

“That’s our main goal, to make sure the children are well taken care of,” Sherwin said.

A Stony Brook University alumna, Sherwin is a clinical professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Dentistry, in the department of orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. As the director of pediatric outreach, Sherwin organizes dental care events throughout Long Island.

“Whatever the child needs, we’ll take care of it,” Sherwin said. “We don’t turn anybody away that cannot afford it.”

Among those events is Give Kids a Smile, a free dental care clinic offered by appointment for any child up to age 17. The clinic, scheduled for August 28, is sponsored by the American Dental Association. The five-hour program is expected to treat approximately 400 kids, up from 300 last year.

“We have faculty that are more than willing to volunteer,” Sherwin said. “We pair them with dental students, who work in teams.”

Xiomara Aguirre visited the dental care center Thursday with her 2-year-old daughter, Casey Flores.

“A friend recommended it to me. She’s been with them for 10 years,” Aguirre said. “It’s pretty cool. I love it.”

Sherwin’s team of dentists takes their show on the road in the dental school’s mobile office, a modified 40-foot van with room for treating three patients at a time. The van, purchased through a New York HEAL grant, enables the team to treat patients who lack transportation.

“We’ve been to homeless shelters, elementary schools, and crisis family centers,” Sherwin said.

Treating homeless patients is especially rewarding, Sherwin said.

“I think they’re very appreciative because their living situation is so difficult,” she said. “This is one other thing that they don’t have to think about, taking care of their child’s oral health.”

Sherwin and her team advertise their programs at churches, libraries, hospitals and other community partners.

“I’m very proud of where we started,” Sherwin said, “and we’re still building.”

World War II veteran is a sight for sore eyes

Ninety-year-old Sheldon Polan is a World War II veteran and retired optican who treats other veterans at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook. (Photo by Laila Stevens.)

By Chelsea Sibri
The Scholars’ Academy

Optician Sheldon Polan has always had a singular vision: making a difference in his community.

For 10 years, Polan has volunteered weekly treating veterans at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook. He does this work even after retiring 20 years ago in 1998.

“I am doing this because I’m enjoying doing this,” Polan said. “It’s mentally stimulating.”

Polan’s son and fellow optician, Andrew Polan, of Selden, described his father as a hard-working provider with a heart for serving others. The work they do together has allowed them to develop a “very close relationship,” Andrew said.

“I admire my father,” Andrew said. “It’s a good cause.”

One of the elder Polan’s patients, U.S. Navy veteran Gerald Busic, said he appreciates the great service Polan provides.

“He’s courteous, he’s knowledgeable, he’s professional,” Busic said. “What more could you ask for?”

Fred Sganga, executive director of the Long Island State Veterans Home, highlighted the importance and contribution of Polan’s service there.

“We’re enamored that Sheldon, who is a veteran, is actually continuing to serve veterans in terms of their health care needs, which I just think is great,” Sganga said. “I mean, we think it’s wonderful. Sheldon understands what being a veteran is all about. And who better to provide care to veterans than a veteran?”

Polan’s medical journey began after he returned safely from World War II. At first, Polan spent his time working long hours pumping gas at the biggest gas station in Brooklyn at the time, just to survive.

“I was working 80 hours a week, making good money, but there was a blizzard coming on. My kid brother came. He said: ‘What are you doing here? Are you out of your mind?’ And I said, ‘I gotta make a living, what do you mean?’ He said: ‘Why don’t you go into the field I’m in … You’re smarter than me. It’s gonna be easy for you.’ ”

Polan then returned to school at 40 years old and juggled work and school all at once.

“I used to go to work at five in the morning, work until five at night, go from six at night till 11 at night,” Polan said. “And I did that for three years.”

Later on, while he was at the same gas station, a chance bittersweet encounter with an ophthalmologist from Kings County Hospital gave him a life-changing opportunity. During a blizzard, he had an angry exchange with the doctor, who then drove off.

“About an hour and a half later, he called me and apologized,” Polan recalled. “He had just come from Kings County Hospital, where he had a difficult patient, and he’s taking it out on me.”

Their conversation continued two days later.

“I was sitting and studying for a test, and he came in, and he looked at me, and he said: ‘What are you reading?’ And I said: ‘I don’t know what your field is.’ He said: ‘Well, I’m an ophthalmologist. … If you want to learn this, if you scrub with me once or twice, you won’t need the book.’ Two days later, he picked me up. Everything started to come naturally. We became very good friends.”

That exchange led Polan to a long association with Dr. Norman Stahl and a career in eye care.

Polan’s charitable work is nothing new. He has participated in volunteer missions in Ghana and in Liberia, where he was able to meet the Liberian president.

“What you take for granted here, they haven’t got,” Polan said. “We would see patients from 6 o’clock in the morning until almost midnight the next day.”

Polan also keeps busy reading, breezing through fiction books and newspapers highlighting current events. In order to keep practicing, he had to take classes and tests online for credits.

“The worst thing you could do is stop, sit down in a chair, and do nothing,” Polan said. “If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be doing something else.”

Sganga and the veterans that Polan serves are glad he has chosen not to do something else. Sganga put it this way: “Sheldon is giving them the gift of sight.”

iDentifying LEGO robotics at iD Tech

Children at the iD Tech summer camp at Stony Brook University learn about robotics and programming on Thursday, July 19, 2018. The camp exposes kids to technology-oriented learning that isn’t always available at their schools. (Photo by Emily Palazzotto.)

By Meghan Reilly
Westhampton Beach High School

The term “summer camp” usually conjures images of bonfires, cabins and s’mores. But at iD Tech, young campers create robots from scratch.

In a bright room in the Wang Center of Stony Brook University, where decals of video game characters and iD Tech slogans adorn the walls, children of different age groups learned different tasks, such as coding, game development and Lego robotics.

Nine-year-old campers at the LEGO

robotics table worked in pairs and used laptops so that they could access guides online. They followed these guides step-by-step in order to put their robots together.

“I learned how to code and build robots with Legos,” Victoria Alexander said. “I take blocks of code and put them all together.”

Matthew Marotta added, “I’ve learned how to make my robot move forwards and backwards, and today I built a crane robot.”

The camp grouped the children by age to better accommodate their interests, camp director Zara Krayem said.

“For instance, children interested in robotics will be placed in that group where they’ll learn same thing in two days that college students take a semester to pick up on,” Krayem said. “This structure is what makes us different from other tech camps.”

Campers also participated in other activities, including a field day, so that they could bond with one another.

Matthew Marotta and Kenshin Sugeinoto, both 8, learn to build a lego robot at the iD Tech summer camp at Stony Brook University on Thursday, July 20, 2018. The program teaches kids about robotics and coding. (Photo by Emily Palazzotto.)

“The way the kids learn is very dynamic and fun,” Krayem added.

Even after the end of weeklong camp, iD Tech kids can stay connected by accessing the online guides and building more robots at home. They also can return to the camp next year as long as they are still between the ages of 7 and 18.

iD Tech exposes children to a lot of possibilities that aren’t available in high school, which means they can find out what career paths interest them before they even get into college, Krayem said.

Even the youngest kids already seem to have an idea of what they want to do when they grow up. Both Victoria and Matthew want to be engineers.

“I want to be an engineer,” Victoria said, “because I think it’s fun.”

“I want to help people with their problems,” Matthew added, “and I want to build stuff.”

Luck of the Ducks: Baseball team hosts Irish Heritage Night

Jane Pino of Islip Terrace gets into the spirit of Irish Night at Bethpage Ballpark. (Photo by Sebastian Germosen.)

By Emily Bishop
The Stony Brook School

At the Long Island Ducks game on Wednesday, July 18, Kathy Fels proudly wore an Irish hat that her husband had bought and decorated. She had put the hat away in a closet after his death, but since she was going to Irish night, she figured it was a good reason to bring it out.

“Themed nights are good,” the Lindenhurst resident said. “Everyone gets into it.”

Irish Night at Bethpage Ballpark is an opportunity for families to enjoy some of the culture and traditions of Ireland. In addition to Irish-themed graphics on the Jumbotron and Irish music playing over the speakers, fans were treated to a performance of the Irish national anthem before the first pitch. And the first 1,500 fans to arrive received commemorative cups, courtesy of Shandon Court, a local Irish restaurant.

Robert Mulvey of South Farmingdale celebrates Irish night with a irish themed Ducks costume. (Photo by Sebastian Germosen.)

“We try to offer something for every group,” said Michael Polak, director of media relations and broadcasting.

The Ducks have been scheduling an increasing number of themed nights. Other events in the schedule include a Jewish Heritage Night, Heart Health Night, and an Anti-Bullying Night.

In addition to raising awareness for important causes and diverse cultures, themed evenings have also boosted ticket sales, according to Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff. Many fans said they came to Wednesday’s game because of the special theme.

“There are about 1,500 seats [sold] in a 1,600-seat stadium,” Pfaff said. “People are interested in Irish Heritage Night.”

Fans are drawn to the Irish step dancers as a highlight of the evening.

Ducks fan Therese Parks, part Irish, attended Wednesday’s game to honor her heritage.

“Irish people are happy and spirited,” she said, “so yeah, it’s good.”

Rain or shine, Ducks fans storm Bethpage Ballpark

Empty stands at the Long Island Ducks game on Wednesday night. Only some super fans were in attendance due to the rained out game on Tuesday. (Christian Miller)

By Rachel Schneider
Great Neck South High School

Stephen Watkin was set to see the Long Island Ducks take on the Connecticut New Britain Bees with his wife, Paulette, on Tuesday – until it was postponed due to torrential rain. The weather was still on his mind when he returned to Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip for the rescheduled game Wednesday.

“We pick an under hang so we are dry no matter how hard it rains,” said Watkin, who comes to about 10 games a season.

U.S. Army veteran Padraic Nugent, 83, of Massapequa, a fan of the Ducks for the last six years, said he was also planning to come on Tuesday, but was pleased the game had been postponed.

A typical Ducks game this season has around 4,854 tickets sold, and 677 games have been sold out since the Ducks were founded in 1998, according to Michael Polak, director of media relations and broadcasting.

Wednesday’s game had 4,952 tickets sold, but the stands were relatively empty and concession lines were short.

Bear Court cashier Emma Garguilo said the game rescheduling led to reduced sales.

“It’s not that busy,” said Garguilo. “I’ve gotten maybe 30 [customers] and on a regular day there would be like 60.”

Like Watkin, Kathy Fels, who was decked out in a green sparkling top hat with “GO DUCKS” written across the top and clover glasses in honor of Irish Night, is willing to tolerate some rain for the love of the game.

“It depends on what kind of rain it’s going to be,” Fels said. “Obviously, last night it was more stormy. But if it’s just a little drizzle, you come anyway. Worse-case scenario, you sit up at the top.”

Adeishe Bagaloo contributed to this report.

Kids learn to play like a pro from the pros

The Kids Baseball Clinic at Bethpage Ballpark runs July 30 to August 1 and August 13 to August 15, 2018. (Photo by Matthew Quan.)

By Brianna Depra
Hempstead High School

Michael Pfaff, president and general manager of the Long Island Ducks, has a simple yet exciting goal for the Ducks upcoming baseball clinic.

“Learn to play like a pro from the pros,” Pfaff said.

Jordany Valdespin, who played parts of three seasons in the big leagues with the Mets and Marlins, is one of the instructors.

The camp is for kids of any skill level from ages 7 to 13, with groups for both beginners and experts. The first session runs from July 30 to August 1 and the second runs from August 13 to 15. Registration will be available until the first session, amounting to a total cost of $195.

Kids will work through various mechanics at the clinic from pitching and hitting to outfield play and running the bases, said Pfaff. The team’s manager, Kevin Baez, will run the clinic, with help from a handful of ballplayers, including Valdespin, outfielder David Washington, and others.

“Their baseball skills are lacking at this point,” said Andrew Eenigenburg, a parent from West Sayville, “so maybe they can learn something from the Ducks.” He expects the camp to be a thrill for his kids. “They’re very enthusiastic.”

Two graduates of the camp, Brady and Eddie Lessing of East Islip, loved their experience.

“My favorite thing was batting practice,” Eddie said at Wednesday night’s game. His brother Brady added, “My favorite part of the kids’ clinic is at the end of the day when we always do a little game out in center field.”

The Ducks are hoping to create the next generation of ballplayers as their slogan suggests: “Put your future all-star on the fast track to the big leagues.”

Long Island Ducks bat for charity

Jerseys hang in the the ‘Waddle In’ souvenir shop at Bethpage Ballpark for the jersey auction to benefit the QuackerJack Foundation. The foundation raises money for ALS Ride For Life and the Alzheimer’s Association, among other charities. (Photo by Lauren Nicks.)

By Corianna Jackson
Brentwood High School

The Long Island Ducks also try to hit home runs when it comes to charity.

The Ducks just finished hosting the Atlantic League All-Star Game for the third time at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. The game ended with a Liberty Division victory during the close 4-3 game on July 11. These special-edition jerseys are now being auctioned off in the Waddle In Shop at the stadium with the proceeds going to the team’s QuackerJack Foundation, which funds other charities and organizations.

The Ducks are known for finding ways to support many causes like the ALS Ride For Life organization, the Alzheimer’s Association and a heart health initiative sponsored by Northwell Health, said Michael Polak, the team’s director of media relations and broadcasting. The QuackerJack Foundation uses Chinese auctions and casino nights to help school groups, PTAs and businesses across Long Island. Polak believes it is important to “raise awareness.”

The ‘Waddle In’ souvenir shop at Bethpage Ballpark sells jerseys and other Ducks-related items, but they also auction off special jerseys to raise money for the QuackerJack Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Nicks.)

One of the Ducks’ most popular fundraising techniques is holding jersey auctions. The team auctions bright red jerseys worn by the players on the annual heart health night. Another big jersey occasion happens on Bud Harrelson Night. The event recognizes the former Mets player and current Ducks coach, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. The team auctions purple jerseys with Harrelson’s No. 3 and proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The auction for the all-star jerseys start at $75 and will be increased in minimum $10 increments, according to the organization’s auction website. Fans can place their bids by visiting the Waddle In Shop or by calling 631-940-3825 from now through July 31. The team said the jersey auction will end at the conclusion of the top of the seventh inning during the Ducks game against the Somerset Patriots on Wednesday, August 1.

“I think it’s great,” said Stephen Giordano, a Hauppauge resident and Ducks fan. “I think it’s a great cause.”