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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 2, 2006
Typhoon of steel, Operation Iceberg, and kamikazi
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND Stories of chivalrous acts and countless feats of bravery. Fighting an invisible enemy that seems to attack from every pit, hole, crack, and crevice. The sobering realities of war and the grisly sight of dead bodies intertwined with firsthand personal accounts of being there.
A new Hollywood release at the local cinema"
No, just a Friday night at the Guilderland Public Library.
Last Friday, a room full of library visitors were treated to a presentation by Professor Richard Kendall, Ph.D., of a week-by-week account of the battle of Okinawa. This Friday, history buffs can listen to Professor Daniel White, Ph.D., speak on the Holocaust.
Every week until Nov. 17, the Guilderland Public Library will explore an aspect of World War II in a series that began on Sept. 29. With professors from the University at Albany, Siena, and the United States Military Academy at West Point, the library has been presenting and analyzing the deadliest conflict in world history through documentaries and discussion.
"Typhoon of steel"
Kendall, is an associate professor of history at the University at Albany, took the reins of the presentation at the last minute after Lt. Col. James Seidule, Ph.D., of West Point was unable to attend due to last-minute family obligations.
"Okinawa should be seen as the bigger battle after the shorter battle of Iwo Jima," Kendall said, opening the presentation. "This is the last part of the war where some of the most intense fighting took place. It showed how the Japanese went down, fighting to the last man."
The initial invasion and landing on Okinawa was dubbed "Operation Iceberg" by the Allied forces.
The nearly three-month battle was fought on an island in the Ryukyu Islands, south of the four main islands of Japan. The harbors and air strips on these islands were essential if American forces were to invade the main island of Japan, he said.
The dropping of two atomic bombs ended the war and prevented a mass invasion.
The fierce fighting that took place on Okinawa is often referred to as tetsu no ame, which translates into English as "typhoon of steel," and refers to the intense gunfire in the battle and the sheer number of American boats and tanks that landed there.
On the American side, 33 ships were sunk, well over 500 aircraft were destroyed aboard carriers, and 368 ships were damaged more than 50 of them seriously. There were 72,000 casualties, with 12,500 killed or missing.
On the Japanese side, 16 ships were sunk and over 7,800 aircraft were destroyed. More than 110,000 Japanese were killed with only a few thousand being taken alive as prisoners.
Like the other presentations in the librarys series, Fridays on Okinawa began with a brief introduction by the guest speaker before a documentary is shown; then a discussion period concluding with questions and answers.
Fridays film, Okinawa: The Last Battle, depicts the battle through archive photographs and video clips, as well as interviews with officers, veterans, professors, and historians.
With a completely packed house, many attendees were forced to find alternative parking because the librarys lot was full. As the lights dimmed and the film began to roll, the librarys meeting room was transformed into a theater for the next hour and 15 minutes.
"Someone said it looked like every ship in the world was there," boomed the commentators’ voice. "It was the most overwhelming and spectacular landing in the Pacific War."
Kamikaze attacks began taking their toll on the American Navy, with one veteran describing an instance where the pilot of a kamikaze plane actually fell out of his cockpit and crashed onto the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri as flames and shrapnel flew in every direction. The sailors gave the Japanese pilot a "dutiful burial," the next day, saying, "We commit you to the sea."
The documentary continued with graphic details of the battle.
"Many bodies could not be recovered. Maggots got into them and, as shells would land, bits and pieces of the bodies would blow apart," the commentator said. "Officers were very often the first to die because of Japanese snipers. Some first sergeants came one day and died that night."
After the film, Kendall explained that the Japanese never intended to invade America, but that they were going to take Southeast Asia for their empire.
"They thought they could beat us in the Pacific," Kendall told the crowd. "They thought, if they inflicted enough casualties, we would just drop out"They did their best to kill and maim as many Americans as they could to get us to leave them alone.
"We said no," he concluded.
When Kendall talked about the Allies preparing to invade Japan, several veterans who served in the Pacific Theater commented that using the atomic bomb saved many thousands of lives.
"Some young historical revisionists and peaceniks say the atomic bomb should not have been dropped," one vet told Kendall.
"Well, I’m not one of those," the professor responded.
Kendall said that scientists in particular were "squeamish" about dropping the bomb, but that President Harry S. Truman wanted to end the war with the least amount of American casualties.
"They would have died to the last man," Kendall said of the Japanese. "They wanted to have a coup and continue the war after we dropped the bomb"Yes, it saved lives. It saved Japanese lives; it saved lots of lives.
"Polls at the time showed Americans overwhelmingly wanted to drop those bombs to end the war," Kendall concluded.
Another veteran spoke about how he and the men in his unit tried to prevent literally thousands of Japanese civilians and soldiers from jumping off of cliffs to their deaths once the Americans occupied the island.
"They were told we were terrible devils," he said of the Japanese propaganda which depicted Americans as murderous invaders who would destroy everything in their path. "Men, women, and children jumped off the cliffs, and some were shot if they didn’t jump."
Kendall said there was no connection between Japanese kamikazes and modern day Islamic militant suicide bombers.
"Although they were all young men under tremendous social pressure, and there is a level of fanaticism in both, they are very different," said Kendall.
Kendall said that he has enjoyed doing discussions at the Guilderland Public Library.
"My students watch the History Channel all the time," Kendall said about the interest in documentaries. "Now," he quipped, "if I could only get them to read their books."
Next week Professor White will present the film Conspiracy. He will talk candidly about the Holocaust and the Nazis attempt to exterminate the Jewish people from Europe and possibly the world.
The film is a dramatization of the Wannsee Conference that took place on Jan. 20, 1942, in a Berlin suburb. The meeting was held to discuss the "final solution," or what was to be done with the Jews in the German territories.
"This was a conference with various top leaders of government agencies," said White. "I don’t know how people will react." Some parts of the film have been cut, according to White, but the meeting in its entirety will be in the dramatization.
The top-secret meeting convened by Reinhard Heydrich, who was Heinrich Himmlers second in command of the S.S., the Schutzstaffel, an elite quasi-military unit of the Nazi party that served as Hitlers personal guard and as a special security force.
Although the minutes from the meeting were taken, a protocol was written up stemming from the outcome of the meeting. Out of 31 copies, the Allies only recovered one.
White said he is unsure of who now has possession of the original copy, but he thinks it may be in Berlin, Germany.
"The film shows you how comprehensive the undertaking was," said White, referring to the logistics surrounding the mass murder of the Jewish people by Germans. "It was a coordination," he said.
"They were also debating the classification of half-Jews," he added. "The film will try to explain the major players to the audience."
Overall, White said he was impressed with the level of interest in the programs running at the library and that he enjoys doing the presentations.
Coming up at the library:
Nov. 3, The Holocaust, presented by University at Albany Professor Dan S. White, Ph.D.;
Nov. 8, Double Victory: The African-American Experience, presented by University at Albany Professor Allen Ballard, Ph.D.;
Nov. 10, Women on the Homefront: Rosie the Riveter, presented by Siena College Professor Karen Mahar, PhD.;
Nov.13, The Nuremberg Trials, presented by author Joseph E. Persico; and
Nov. 17, Hiroshima: The Decision, the Aftermath, by West Point Professor Lt. Col. James Seidule.
Green tackles writing with as much passion as quarterbacks
By Tim Matteson
GUILDERLAND Tim Greens story is of two different people.
There is the Tim Green who is intelligent, educated, and well-spoken and has used those traits to become an attorney and a popular novelist. Then there is the other Tim Green. The football warrior who, as a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, crushed quarterbacks and rammed running backs on his way to glory.
Those two different disciplines the subjective world of writing and the physical world of football have formed what his publishers dubs one Renaissance Man.
Green will be coming to the Guilderland Public Library today (Thursday) as part of the Carol J. Hamblin Notable Authors Speakers Series held each year at the library.
"I’ll be talking about the writing process," Green said of his plans for Thursday night. "I’ll read from a couple of my recent works and one I have coming out in April. I will also talk about the new novels I’ll have for kids coming out this summer with Harper Collins."
That is Tim Green now, who writes while also working for a law firm in the Syracuse area. Greens latest books are Kingdom Come and Exact Revenge. Exact Revenge is a story about a character, Raymond White, who has been confined to a maximum security prison in upstate New York. White was a wealthy lawyer who was framed by rivals. In prison, White befriends an art thief and they plan an escape.
Once he is out, White plans revenge against his rivals.
Greens favorite book, as a kid, was The Count of Monte Cristo and it still is one of his favorites.
"It’s a great story," Green said, describing one of his latest novels as a modern version of the Alexandre Dumas classic.
But Green doesnt think he has been influenced by any kind of writing style.
"If there is a style to my writing it would be minimalist," he said. "I’m not saying I’m a minimalist. I try to put my writing into action and have the dialogue powerful to be powerful with description. I want to get better with each book I write."
Green has also written non-fiction works including The Dark Side of the Game, about his life in the National Football League and the environment surrounding a professional athlete.
His other non-fiction book, A Man and his Mother: An Adopted Sons Search, is a memoir of his life. The book was featured in many media outlets and the rights have been purchased by CBS for a movie of the week.
The title of his other books and synopses of each, as well as a biography of Green can be found at his website, Timgreenbooks.com.
"A dream of mine"
Green has always been into books.
"I was a voracious reader," Green said. "As a kid, I was always reading or writing. I was an English major and took writing classes. That naturally rekindled my writing passion in ernest. In law school, I started my first novel."
Green graduated from Syracuse Univeristy and was named a Rossman Scholar For Humanities, a Syracuse Scholar, and an NCAA Top Six Scholar. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and was co-valedictorian of his class.
"When I was getting my undergraduate education, it was always in the mind," Green said of writing. "It was a dream of mine. It started when I finished school. I had an idea for my first book. I had to re-write it and re-write it. It took four years to write."
Of course, after he finished his undergraduate work, the Atlanta Falcons drafted the All-American in the first round of the1986 NFL draft. Green was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Green played for the Falcons for eight years. During his time in the NFL, he began his 13-year career as a commentator for National Public Radio, wrote columns for USA Today, and got his law degree with honors at Syracuse University.
"I got used to being efficient with my time in college," Green said. "I worked hard on my studies and I became co-valedictorian of my class and I put a lot of effort into studies and to be successful at football. It took time and energy, but I made it a habit to be efficient at leading two lives at the same time."
Green was able to pursue a lot of things when he was away from the playing field.
"In the NFL, in the off-season, there is a lot of time," Green said. "I started writing and going to law school. I did all those things at the same time. I had a goal and I worked towards it."
Similarities and differences
Though it seems that being a successful football player and a successful writer would take different means, it really doesnt.
"They are very similar," Green said. "To be an outstanding football player, 99 percent of the work comes when there is no one around and no one cheering for you and admiring you. Ninety-nine point nine percent is work you have to do on your own as you try to reach your goals.
It is very similar through the process of writing. The image that everyone sees of a football player is of the one that is playing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. No one sees the hard work that goes on in practices. Writing is very similar in that way."
Most of Greens goals have come from his love of learning.
"I always enjoyed school," he said. "I was seeking learning and intellectual stimulation during the off-season."
Green also points out differences between football and writing.
"The beauty of football is really there is no subjectivity," he said. "It’s physical. You feel it when you hit the other guy, tackle the quarterback, or beat the blocker. Writing is done in the world of subjectivity."
Green has shunned some things in life to be able to go all out in his activities.
"I don’t sleep much," he joked, but then added. "I don’t really watch much TV. The thing for me is, writing is something I really enjoy. It’s as much of a hobby or pastime as a way to earn a living. And it is a joy to be able to do that."
Green also coaches his youngest sons football team and his oldest son plays on the varsity at Skaneateles High School.
Green was an announcer for Fox Sports NFL coverage but stopped this year. He does appear on Fox Sports Nets NFL Total Access.
People strive to live one of Greens lives they dream about being a professional football player or a successful author. But Green has done both. Hes fulfilled two dreams. He is quick to credit others in making him the man he became.
"I was very fortunate and very lucky to be around some very good people," Green said. "I had great coaches and teachers that showed me that it took a lot of focus. I had coaches and teachers that taught me a lot of things and I got the most out of it.
I see that with my kids now in sports. They need good coaches and I see how critical and important that is in any walk of life. I had success because I worked hard. I have talent, but someone along the way saw that I had talent."
Mourning Rev. Curry
Pastors death comes midst churchs 75th year celebration
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND The night before he died, Reverend Kenneth Curry baptized his grandson, Ian.
This, his last official act as pastor of the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guilderland, was performed while he lay in bed, dying of liver cancer.
He died the next day, on Oct. 17, 2006, with both of his sons and their wives at his bedside as they read passages from the Bible to him.
Rev. Curry was diagnosed with liver cancer just 17 days earlier.
His death came after almost five years to the day of accepting his calling to the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church on Western Avenue. Rev. Curry was installed on Oct. 14, 2001. Congregates coped with the loss of their pastor as they celebrated the churchs 75th anniversary.
The strong and faithful of Rev. Currys congregation do not mourn his death; instead, they celebrate his life.
Through death comes new beginnings, said Associate Pastor Russell J. Craig.
"We had a funeral on Friday, and a baptism on Sunday," Rev. Craig said about the weekend of Rev. Curry’s funeral services. "If anything says Christianity, it’s the eternal cycle of life."
Rev. Craig is now acting as pastor at the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, even though his original plan was to wait another two years when he could retire at age 55 from his work for New York State. By then, Rev. Curry would have been nearly 70 and would himself have been ready to retire.
"However, He had other plans," said Rev. Craig.
"I have been on and off, filling in for other congregations. This was not in the plans," said Rev. Craig. "We had our plans, but God has plans of his own. If you really want to make God laugh, say, ‘Lord, here’s my plan.’"You have to plan for the future, but ultimately the plans are not in our hands."
A life of love
Rev. Curry was loved by his congregation and his family, and was described by Rev. Craig as a kind and gentle individual who was a wonderful servant of God with a special place in his heart for the sick and the elderly.
He was born in Michigan in March of 1939 to the late John and Esther Curry, one of three sons. His brother, Gary survives him. His brother, John, died before him.
Rev. Curry received his bachelors degree from Wayne State University and then served in the active Navy Reserve from 1963 to 1969. During that time, in 1967, he met his future wife, Shirley. They were married for 39 years.
The couple had two sons, Timothy and David. Timothy and his wife, Elizabeth, and David and his wife, Lauren, survive him along with grandsons, Jacob and Ian.
Rev. Curry received his masters of divinity degree in 1971 from Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Ill., and then later that year was ordained as a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. During his 35 years of ministry, Rev. Curry served congregations in Melcher and Lacuna, Iowa, as a Navy Reserve chaplain in Youngstown, N.Y., and then, for the past five years, as pastor at the Lutheran Church in Guilderland.
"He was enlisted in Vietnam and he was also a chaplain and on active duty until 1989," said Mrs. Curry. "He enjoyed it, he went all over the world."
He didnt fight, of course, said Mrs. Curry, but, as a lieutenant colonel, he would visit active chaplains at their bases for a couple of weeks at a time.
"He worked with officers and he would go on house visits, too," said Mrs. Curry. "He also worked with the Red Cross for many years"He helped sailors get home to their families if there was an emergency, and he checked up on those who were lying by calling hospitals and funeral homes.
"He also really enjoyed bird watching and hiking," Mrs. Curry said. "He would go hiking with his sons near Yellowstone Park."
Mrs. Curry described her husband’s death as "really quite sudden," and said that it is a difficult time for her and her family.
Although he served as pastor in Guilderland for only five years, his congregation has many fond memories of his tenure.
"He was not the most outgoing person, but he was one who had a caring spirit and tremendous willingness to impart all of the teachings of the Bible," said Richard Griessel, a long-time member of the Lutheran Church. "He went out of his way to help people understand the teachings."
The congregations president agrees.
"His main interest was in the spiritual life of the congregation. Some pastors are much more into the running of the church"He was more interested in the spiritual well-being of the congregation," said Allen Fike.
Describing Rev. Curry as "accessible," Fike said, "He was excellent about visiting the sick and shut-ins of the congregation."
Rev. Currys successor also described him as a man of his people.
"He was a very calming influence. He gave stability to the congregation because they knew their pastor was there for them," said Rev. Craig. "Everyone liked him, he was a mellow, quiet sort of man"He kept people on an even keel and looking to the future.
Rev. Curry was the seventh pastor of the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, and he was installed by Dr. David H. Benke, president of the Atlantic District. Dr. Benke also delivered the eulogy during Rev. Currys funeral service as well as the following Sundays service.
"He will be missed for his extreme caring attitude," Mr. Griessel said. "He always praised the congregation for coming to church and being a part of the community."
"Flash from sorrow to joy"
Rev. Currys death came only days before a planned banquet commemorating the congregations 75th year of worship. Dr. Benke came to Guilderland for the festivities, but ultimately played a more somber role when news of Rev. Currys death spread to the congregation.
"July was the actual anniversary, but year-long celebrations have been taking place. This was culminating into the Oct. 22 banquet with a special commemorative service. But, of course, he died that week," said Mr. Griessel. "We were left with what to do"but it was too late to cancel all of the arrangements.
"It was a sorrowful event and a celebration of the church," Mr. Criessel continued. "It was just two gigantic differences in the mood which had to flash from sorrow to joy."
The celebration of the church still went on the Sunday following Rev. Currys Friday funeral, because, according to many in the congregation, thats the way he would have wanted it.
Rev. Craig told The Enterprise that not everyone has yet coped with Rev. Currys death, but the congregation is trying to focus on celebrating Rev. Currys life rather than mourning their loss.
Sharing a similar sentiment, Mr. Fike said, "We try to celebrate his life, but it doesn’t always work out that way"Congregational members are generally very close to their pastor."
Congregates say they look forward to having Rev. Craig lead their church.
"We’re looking forward to having him as pastor. He’s been a deacon for a number of years and has filled in a number of times," said Mr. Fike. "We have a history with Russ Craig."
Rev. Craig said he is ready to accept the challenge of leading the church while he works for the state until he can devote his full attention to the congregation after retiring in two years.
"Right now, I’m still technically an associate pastor," said Rev. Craig. "In our church, there has to be a formal call to install a new pastor."
When that time comes, Rev. Craig said, if the congregation wants him as its pastor he will accept the call.
"We’ll see what happens next. With the trust of God, I’m looking forward to the adventure," concluded Rev. Craig.
Mrs. Curry, who is currently staying with family in Detroit, Mich., where Rev. Curry was buried last week with full military honors, said she is coming back to her Guilderland home next week, but she is unsure if she will stay in the area or reside with other family members.
"He was a good servant of God, and he loved his people," Rev. Craig said. "I know I have to follow his footsteps in this."
Memorial contributions may be made to the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1500 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203, or the Lutheran Hour Ministries, 660 Mason Ridge Center Dr., St. Louis, MO 63141.
Going out for a Neil Simon farce
Guilderland Players let Rumors fly in a "two-hour marathon of spontaneity"
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND Prevarication. We all lie a little, bend the truth, fill in the gaps, exaggerate, cover up especially in social situations.
Neil Simon stretches that natural human tendency to absurd extremes in his 1988 play, Rumors, and the cast in the current Guilderland High School production follows his lead right out the door.
A multitude of doors, in fact. Characters enter and exit at a dizzying pace. Timing is everything and the 10 players had it down pat at a rehearsal this week as they prepared for Fridays opening night.
When it wasnt right, they went over it until it clicked. At one point, as a door swung open, two characters inadvertently collided. The director warned them against smirks and they tried again.
This time, the actress had her foot surreptitiously against the door, so she could fake a dramatic fall forward as it was pushed open behind her, landing on the couch.
The actors sashayed with aplomb around classmates who were busy putting finishing touches on the set an upper-middle-class home in the suburbs of New York City.
Veteran director Andy Maycock, an English teacher at the high school, chose the play, he said, because he wanted a balance of male and female players and because producing comedy is "more fun" than drama. Referring to the Guilderland Players’ recent production of All My Sons, Maycock said, "It’s exhausting emotionally to get at the depth and darkness."
He went on about the current comedy, "This is more physically exhausting. With drama, your heart hurts. With this, your sides hurt, from laughing. For your five-dollar ticket, you see 10 kids really go at it."
The play centers on a couple Charley and Myra Brock who never appear on stage. The Brocks are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary and have invited their friends to a party at their house.
"As the curtain rises, the first guests are frantic. Myra is missing and Charley apparently shot himself through the earlobe. He’s taken Valium and is out cold," said Maycock.
Charley is the deputy mayor of New York and the guests are afraid that it may look bad if he tried to kill himself. "As the next couple arrives, they make up a story. Eventually, there are four couples, all in different stages of knowledge," said Maycock.
"This is all too hard to follow. I need a bookmark in my head," says one of the party guests. The viewers’ grip on reality is eventually loosened finding the truth becomes irrelevant midst the rumors and the audience just goes along for the convoluted ride.
One couple arrives after a car accident and the husband, Lenny, maintains a perpetually tipped head, presumably the result of whiplash.
Another couple includes a wife, Cookie, who has such chronic back pain that, at one point, she crawls matter-of-factly across the stage in her hot-pink satin party dress.
A third couple, a would-be politician with a perpetually complaining wife who seeks comfort in a quartz crystal, bicker constantly.
"They have the kind of circular arguments we’ve all had or seen," said Maycock. "We laugh at this play because it’s silly and we can see ourselves in the characters."
When the police, aware of the gunshot, arrive in the second act, one of the guests, Lenny, pretends to be Charley. "He has a three-page monologue. His story is so outlandish that the police go merrily on their way," said Maycock.
In the midst of auditions, Maycock told the students seeking parts that what would separate those who were cast from those who were not was the level of energy.
"None of these characters are calm," said the director. "It’s a two-hour marathon of spontaneity. They have to constantly be on."
Energy, indeed. The cast rolls off the stage during a break at rehearsal between acts; the players talk in a kind of on-stage high about the wonders of working with Maycock theyve given him a pet name, Mack and of becoming close friends across the usual class and clique lines.
They also talk with intelligence about how they play their roles and why they like make that love being on stage.
Molly Clancy, a junior who plays to high-pitched perfection the bitchy wife of a politician, says she had trouble with the role at first but now finds it fun.
"We sound like some TV couple from hell," her character comments as she goes on to act just like a sitcom character.
Her husband is running for state, not national office, and she rubs it in: "Don’t make it sound like we’re going to Washington, because we’re going to Albany 23-degree-below-zero-in-winter Albany."
Keegan Falotico, also a junior, describes playing the politician: "I act all proper around people. I’m always trying to keep my cool and then I lose it."
Falotico started acting in the first grade and his dream is to play on Broadway some day. "The coolest thing is to become a character," he says.
Wearing a three-piece suit accented with a red-white-and-blue striped neck tie, Falotico goes on, "You put on their clothes, and you learn their lines, and you’re not you anymore, you’re the character."
Zach Tolmie, a senior who has played many roles at Guilderland, plays Ken, a guest who had a gun go off near his ear, leaving him deaf for much of the play.
He talks loudly and inappropriately, delivering some of the broadest humor in the play.
"I hear you have a cold," one of the guests says to him. "You think I look old!" shouts Tolmie with a straight face.
"I think he’s gone dotty," says Clancy, in character.
"Yes, a hot toddy would be nice!" shouts Tolmie in return.
Asked what it’s like to get a laugh with every line, Tolmie shrugs and says, "Every other line in the play is a funny line...People ask, ‘Who’s the main character"’ There is none."
Brianna Barbarotto, who plays Chris, Kens wife, says the cast performed for teachers and friends to get a sense of the timing with an audience laughing.
Maycock describes Barbarotto’s character as "crazed" and says of the actress, "She’s a battery with personality....She comes in with complete manic energy. It’s like new every time.
Seth Schwartzbach, a senior, plays Ernie, an analyst who is mistaken by one guest for a butler. He talks about the fast pace of Rumors, comparing it to the comedy the Guilderland Players put on last year, Arsenic and Old Lace.
"Last year’s was fast but this year’s is much faster," he says.
The cast recalls how, when a line is missed in rehearsal, a whole page is sometimes skipped.
Carina Engelberg plays Ernies wife, Cookie, the woman who suffers from bouts of back pain, which Engelberg manages to make funny.
"It’s like a wave hits her," said Maycock, describing Engelberg’s portrayal. "As she sits, her knees go out of whack. She makes funny noises...."
"You completely have to step out of yourself," says Engelberg. But then she allows, "There’s a little bit of each of our characters in us."
Barbarotto indicates that Jen Meglino is, in some ways, like her character, Claire a character Maycock described as "a complete ditz, a total airhead."
Meglino laughs and nods in agreement. "I’m not saying I’m stupid," she says. "I’m slow on the pick-up."
She describes getting one of her lines and reports, "Everyone will say, ‘Dude, we got that two weeks ago.’"
Claires husband, Lenny, is played by David Alliger, a junior.
"He’s a wonderfully sweet guy," says Maycock of the actor, "and he has to be sarcastic, jaded, bitter."
Alliger delivers the three-page monologue that crowns the play. "That’s my favorite part," said Alliger. "I get to run around and be crazy."
"He’s so sarcastic," chimes in Barbarotto.
"Dave is not a sarcastic person," adds Clancy.
The cast is rounded out by the two police officers played by Brooke Kolcow and Stephanie Nania.
Cast members tease Kolcow about having a mans part re-written for her two years running.
Nania, a sophomore, "has the smallest part in the show but does a lot with it," said Maycock. During rehearsals, he said, "She is always the voice of reason"When things fall apart, she's a rock."
The players revel in each other’s company as they discuss the show. "We’re all so close...we’re emotionally connected," says Clancy.
"We’re all from different grades and different places," adds Meglino.
"It’s a melting pot," agrees Clancy.
Their inclusiveness spreads to the audience they plan to entertain.
The players say Rumors is a show everyone can relate to.
"Everyone can be completely carefree," says Engelberg.
"You will laugh. You will see yourself," says Clancy.
"You can’t be half-way," says Barbarotto. "Little kids will laugh at us falling all over the place. The adults will get the jokes."
Brooke Kolcow sums it up well, describing Rumors as "a play people can go to, to release their own stress by seeing the stress of others."
Neil Simons Rumors comes to the Guilderland High School stage on Friday, Nov. 3, and Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. Tickets for both performances will be sold for $5 at the door.
At Lynnwood Elementary
Mobil money to be used for ecology study
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND Money donated by Exxon Mobil will be used to pay for an ecologist to teach Lynnwood Elementary students this year.
The ecologist, George Steele, will work with "every grade in the whole school," said Bernice Williams, the principal’s secretary who did the paperwork for the grant.
A popular visitor, Steele has been to the school before, she said. "He had the kids dissecting owl pellets," she said. "They put on gloves and looked to see what was there."
Among other things, they found the remains of mice and snakes in the owl excrement, she said. "It helps them learn about the food chain," said Williams.
The Lynnwood PTA helps out with paying the several thousand dollars it costs to hire Steele, said Williams, but this year the grant will ease the burden.
The elementary school has received funds from the Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance Group for six years, said Williams. For the last two years, Bruce Mance, proprietor of the Guilderland Mobil at the corner of Carman Road and Western Avenue, has matched the $500 alliance grant with his own $500 donation, bringing the total to $1,000, said Williams.
"We’re totally bowled over by his generosity," she said. "Mr. Mance is kind of shy," she went on. "He doesn’t like a big fuss, but we make a fuss; he deserves it."
Mance has a grandson, Zach McNally, who is a Lynnwood student and, at a school-wide assembly last year, Zach McNally had the honor of presenting the check.
"He’s a great kid"very outgoing," said Williams.
She concluded of Mance, "His continued support has helped us have programs that enhance the curriculum of the school."
For Guilderland School Board
Technology program a priority
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND Its not your parents vo-tech.
Guilderland School Board members heard a presentation last Tuesday about vocational opportunities for high school students provided by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
At the same meeting, the board adopted two priorities for this school year examining and developing a district-wide technology program and an elementary-school foreign-language program.
"The job of BOCES is to get out in front and do the things you can’t do, you can’t afford to do, you don’t have the critical mass," Hank Stopinski, director of Career and Technical Education at BOCES, told the board members.
He talked about an on-line business program and a project where students work with venture capitalists, creating a virtual corporation.
Students log on to curriculum written by a major corporation, he said, and, in the classroom, they are coached, rather than lectured to, by a certified business educator.
BOCES students can obtain college credit for some of their work and state and national certification in various fields, he said.
Students often compete at both state and national levels, Stopinski said, citing a pair of National Automotive champs from the program two years ago.
They were given "a free ride" for an associate’s degree, he said, and, upon completing that, were given a literal free ride a new car for each.
Two years out of high school, he said, each BOCES grad is earning $70,000 a year.
A generation ago, Stopinski said, students entered vo-tech programs if they couldnt learn college-level material. That is no longer the case, he said. Studying to be a mechanic, for example, now involves electronics and physics.
"It’s not changing oil and tires," he said. "They’re the ones you’re paying $100 an hour."
Several school board members laughed appreciatively.
Stopinski also said that BOCES is changing its traditional "building-centric model" to bring programs into the schools its serves.
"We’re currently looking at piloting the use of iPod technology...on-line delivery...We think high schools are ready for that," he said. "We’ve got students doing stuff in drop boxes at 11, 12 on Saturday night."
Stopinski showed a seven-minute promotional film used to recruit students from the 25 school districts served by the Capital Region BOCES. The video featured four recent graduates of the Career and Technical School a mechanic, a chef, a television reporter, and an elementary-school teacher.
Amanda Hennessy, the mechanic, said she was no expert in the field to begin with but learned through a combination of academics and hands-on career experience.
Joe Maloney, the chef, said he was "a visual hands-on learner" and appreciated the opportunity to learn that way.
Scott Patterson, who went on to the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University to become a reporter, said the BOCES program "made the transition to college easier."
Kimberly Bushey, the elementary teacher, liked the BOCES program because it was "individual based."
Stopinski distinguished the career and technical program from the alternative education programs offered by BOCES. High school students in the career program spend a half-day at their home school and a half-day at the BOCES school. The two-year sequences are offset with state BOCES aid.
"We have valedictorians in the BOCES program," he said.
Full-day programs are offered for alternative education students. The full-day programs, Stopinski said, are "for students having a difficult time in a traditional learning environment."
Stopinski also described the BOCES New Visions program in which advanced students travel to a venue such as a hospital to learn about a field of interest. They do college-level work, he said, participating in different aspects of medicine, from the emergency room to the x-ray center, while also studying traditional subjects, such as literature, as it relates to medicine.
Electives at GHS
The board also heard from Brian Bailey, assistant principal at Guilderland High School, and from Amy Arena, a high-school guidance counselor, about in-house vocational career programs.
Before state and national standards changed a decade ago, Bailey said, there might have been a more "comprehensive sequence" in non-core subjects, that is, subjects besides English, social studies, math, and science.
He listed current courses in art and music; technology; business; computers, physical education, and science; and performance.
Board Vice President John Dornbush said that his son hadn’t had room in his schedule for "a single elective."
"A lot of life is full of choices," said Bailey.
Dornbush said that some families believe electives on a high-school transcript aren’t as appealing to college-selection committees. He said he’d like students to be able to take "one or two exploratory kinds of courses."
Board member Catherine Barber said that, with the block scheduling at the high school, it seems impossible for students to pursue courses in both art and music, which she said was "a little disappointing to the kids."
Nine years ago, the high school moved to a block schedule, which has fewer, longer periods for more in-depth work in classes.
"Block scheduling doesn’t allow kids to explore a lot of fields," said board member Barbara Fraterrigo.
She suggested adding a period at the end of the school day for which teachers would volunteer, starting later in the morning to compensate.
Board member Colleen OConnell pointed out that would exclude athletes who have after-school practices and games.
Shepherded by its new president, Richard Weisz, the board, after months of discussion, adopted for the first time a set of its own priorities for the school year.
After the board members on Tuesday described their budget priorities, Weisz said, "It sounds to me like we have reached a consensus on the technology and FLES [Foreign Language in Elementary School] issues."
Several years ago, a district-wide committee of teachers, parents, and administrators made an enthusiastic presentation to the board in support of starting foreign-language instruction at the elementary level. It currently begins in the middle school.
Constraints imposed on teachers time with increased testing mandates and budget concerns shelved the program.
Fraterrigo, who has long been a proponent of the FLES program, said, "We’re not going to jam anything down anyone’s throat."
She said Al Martino, the foreign-language supervisor, had "creative ways" of approaching the program.
The board also discussed short- and long-term goals in technology education.
Board member Peter Golden said, "You have to work on two different tracks" and have both long- and short-term goals.
Board member Hy Dubowsky said that already-developed programs could be used "without having to re-invent the wheel."
"When we set a goal or priority," said Weisz, "we then turn to the administration to respond in some way to our goal...We’re nudging them like a tugboat."
Superintendent Gregory Aidala said that was "a fair and reasonable expectation." He said the administration would generate both long- and short-term plans.
After a unanimous vote adopting the two priorities, Golden referred to comments made earlier by the superintendent not to lose sight of the many excellent things happening in the district.
Golden said that progress is often seen as a critique of the present.
Particularly with a high-tech curriculum, he said, the district has to move rapidly or the curriculum, which is ever-changing, will be outdated.
"This stuff is incredibly exciting...It doesn’t mean we have bad teachers," said Golden.
Despite water worry
Two-lot subdivision approved on Hawes Road
By Jo E. Prout
GUILDERLAND The planning board last week approved dividing 92 acres on Hawes Road into two lots, but concerned neighbors asked for reassurance that their water supply would be protected.
Property owner Robert Loden wants to sell 11.4 acres to a buyer who plans to build a home nestled into the woods on the property, he said.
The board received letters from Carolyn Fowler, who spoke against the subdivision last month, and her spouse. Their attorney, Donald Zee, explained that the Fowlers water supply, which has failed elsewhere twice before, is now provided by easement from a spring house on a portion of the land to be sold.
Zee asked the board if it would restrict the smaller lot from further subdivision, but board member Michael Cleary said, "We haven’t asked him."
Further subdivision would require greater scrutiny of an application, Chairman Stephen Feeney said. Zee said that the towns environmental advisory committee had examined the property and found a large number of building sites.
"To go through all the potential development would be unreasonable," Feeney said. "It’s one lot."
He said that a building setback of 200 feet is required by health-department standards down-gradient of a septic system. The plan for the 11-acre parcel shows a 600-foot setback, or more, Feeney said, "well within any public health considerations."
Zee also asked the board to test the effect a new well would have on neighboring systems, as it has required developers of large residential areas to do in the past.
Board member James Cohen said that the developments Zee referred to were for tens of lots. "This is one," he said.
Zee further asked the board to "set aside some assurance" for his clients’ well if the new building lot were approved.
"I’m not sure we can guarantee that. We’re comparing apples to oranges, here," Feeney said. "They’re clearly in compliance with public health standards." Feeney said that he had spoken with a hydrogeologist, who said that there is no way to be certain what may have caused a well to fail.
"To me, if seems that would be going a bit far. That‘s a pretty high standard to put in this situation," Feeney said.
Zee asked that the Fowlers be given an easement to hook up to the new residential well being put in, if theirs fails.
"To me, that would be unreasonable," Feeney said.
The board asked Loden and his buyer to dedicate a five-foot strip along the west side of Hawes Road for an easement for future town improvement
In other business, the planning board:
Revised a special-use permit for Gordon Residential Development, a storage facility on 50 acres on Wagner Road. The facility can now store vehicles, like boats or other recreational vehicles.
"I’m just concerned about junk vehicles," said board member Thomas Robert.
"No, these are licensed vehicles," said engineer Daniel Hershberg.
"The design’s kind of awkward, but the wetlands"." Feeney said.
""The wetlands caused that," Hershberg said. About one third of the property is wetlands, and the design has the septic system far from the buildings;
Approved a request by Stuyvesant Plaza to construct a 1,100 square-foot maintenance storage building.
"We’re trying to consolidate some of our operations," said plaza representative Edward Costigan. The new building will be built behind the administration building that abuts the Northway extension; and
Approved the division of a tax parcel at 4278 Western Ave. into two parcels. The property, owned by Freda Hartmann, has two existing homes which were once on two separate parcels. One of the re-instated lots is 2.1 acres, and the other is 14.9 acres.
Kumon comes to Guilderland
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND Forty-five local students have been attending Kumon.
Two months ago, Opie Venlagandula and his wife, Meera, opened the after-school program in Suite 104 at the 20 Mall. The grand opening is this Saturday.
"It’s not like a typical school classroom," said Venlagandula. "It’s highly individualized."
Students attend on Monday and Thursday afternoons and they are taught at their own pace, Venlagandula said. "We want to make sure that they are understanding," he said, before they move on to the next level in a subject.
Kumon is named after its founder, Toru Kumon, who started the program in Japan 50 years ago, said Venlagandula. "He was, himself, a parent and a teacher," he said.
Kumon taught his son and then started to use the same techniques for teaching other children, Venlagandula said; the Kumon program came to the United States a decade ago.
Having two children himself, Venlagandula, who has an engineering Ph.D. and works as an engineer during the day, will be teaching the program with his wife, who has a master of science degree.
"It is very important to provide a good education for young children," he said. "We want to be part of the community."
This will be the first Kumon center in Guilderland, and the only one that Venlagandula owns, but there are also centers in both Niskayuna and Clifton Park. It costs $35 to enroll a student and $80 per month; there are different class levels available for students from pre-school to high school, Venlagandula said.
Although he stressed the differences between the program and the classroom, he said, "It complements the school system."
Village sets its course
By Saranac Hale Spencer
ALTAMONT At the end of this week, the village board will have a preliminary comprehensive plan for Altamont, said committee Chair Dean Whalen.
Informing the plan are the results of a survey that the committee sent to village residents and business owners last summer. The summary of those results is now available to the public. "It’s not leading the plan, but it’s a basis," said Whalen.
The committee, appointed by the village board has also had meetings with groups ranging from teens to seniors as it plans Altamonts future.
"I was a little surprised that there was the residual issue with the police department," Whalen said of the survey results. A third of respondents said that they were not satisfied with the police department and, in another section, the police department was listed as a negative feature of the community.
Citizens had complained two years ago about excessive police presence in Altamont. In 2005, a new public safety commissioner was hired; Anthony Salerno reorganized and scaled back the police department.
"Not everyone is going to like the police," Salerno said after hearing that 33 percent of respondents weren’t satisfied with the department. "When you have a department that acts within the law, you’re going to have that percentage," he said.
Roughly 26 to 28 percent of village residents participated in the survey, Whalen estimated. According to the results, less than 5 percent of respondents were under 30 years old and less than 3 percent were over 81 years old.
"We understand why there’s a tone here," Whalen said of the results of the survey and the bias towards middle-aged residents. "It’s just kind of the nature of a survey from what I understand," he said.
Topping the list of most-needed businesses in the village were more restaurants. In the moderate-to-somewhat-strong need category, respondents called for an antiques shop, a bakery, a bookstore, a card and gift shop, a drugstore, a grocery store, and evening and weekend hours for businesses.
An incentive zone is one way that the village might attract some of these new businesses, Whalen said. Offering a tax incentive is a possibility for attracting a doctor to the area, he said. Lack of a local doctor was at the top of the list of negative features of the village.
The Altamont Fair, beauty, safety, walkability, and location were among the most positive features of the village, according to the survey results.
"This village has a tremendous opportunity to become a recreational center," Whalen said. Altamont, situated at the base of the rural Helderberg escarpment, is close to both Albany and Schenectady. Whalen cited the potential for bike trails, which could double as cross-country ski trails in the winter, to bring in more business for local shops while attracting new ones.
Whalen expects that the village trustees will have the plan, which is 48 pages with an appendix of roughly 60 pages, by Thursday or Friday and they will have two work weeks to review it before meeting with the comprehensive planning committee. Nov. 21 is the tentative date for the meeting.
He hopes that the plan will be adopted by the board by January. Once that happens, he said, "Then it becomes an official document to work from."
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