Category Archives: News

LETTER

Letter: Rosenblum is the arrogant one

 

 

To the Editor,

Mayor Norman Rosenblum’s letter to the editor on Jan. 1, “Political arrogance in the ‘friendly village,”’  disturbed me.

As a resident, I have attended numerous village of Mamaroneck meetings where the mayor is arrogant, completely controls the agenda, limits the ability for attendees to speak, and is rude to the public. This is disrespectful and not particularly friendly nor accommodating behavior from an elected official.

Rosenblum is disturbed that he cannot manipulate the three intelligent trustees who will certainly come up with a reasonable solution to the parking meter dilemma if trusted to do so. The democratic process is working in the “friendly village.” I suggest we support the three competent trustees, Leon Potok, Illissa Miller and David Finch, to make an educated decision that will be economically feasible and acceptable to the public.

 

Gloria Goldstein,

Mamaroneck 

 
Rye High School is the second most challenging high school in the county, according to the Washington Post’s 2014 list of Most Challenging High Schools. It ranks as the 214th most challenging of the 2,025 schools surveyed nation-wide. File photo

Rye High School senior dies

 

 

Henry “Hank” McWilliam, a Rye High School senior, died unexpectedly on Dec. 21 at the age of 18, marking the latest loss in a string of recent Rye High graduates.

McWilliam was an avid hockey player who played for the Garnets as well as various other teams in Florida, Utah
and Connecticut.

He is survived by his parents, Dr. James R. McWilliam and Catherine S. McWilliam, as well as his sister, Cate McWilliam.

According to those who knew him, McWilliam will be missed for his larger than life personality and his love of both animals and children.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Westchester County SPCA.

Police could not provide any further details as of press time.

Rye City Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez could not be reached for comment as of press time.

-Reporting by James Pero

Amendments to recommendations by the ad hoc parking committee turned contentious after multi-space meters were introduced as a pilot on Mamaroneck Avenue. File photo

Multi-space parking meters make a splash

Amendments to recommendations by the ad hoc parking committee turned contentious after multi-space meters were introduced as a pilot on Mamaroneck Avenue. File photo

Amendments to recommendations by the ad hoc parking committee turned contentious after multi-space meters were introduced as a pilot on Mamaroneck Avenue. File photo

By James Pero
A resolution to authorize a partial recommendation issued by the village of Mamaroneck’s parking committee turned contentious after an unexpected amendment was introduced during the Dec. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

The amendment, which passed by a 3-2 partisan Democratic vote, modifies the parking committee’s partial recommendation by introducing a pilot test of both single-space meters and multi-space meters on Mamaroneck Avenue. According to committee Chairwoman Maria Derose, however, an overwhelming amount of residents are still opposed to the multi-space meters.

“[Residents] did not want the multi-space meters on the avenue,” Derose said of the Board of Trustees’ decision. “[The committee] is annoyed.”

While the idea to potentially conduct a pilot test for single-space meters came from Derose—spawning from discussions at parking committee meetings—she says that the committee had no intention of issuing any such recommendation to the Board of Trustees before the new year because of a split between the six committee members.

“We weren’t going to recommend anything on Mamaroneck Avenue,” said Derose, who explained that the committee planned on deliberating the issue further before issuing a recommendation.

The amendment to introduce multi-space meters was passed despite a recent survey issued by the parking committee meant to gauge the sentiments of approximately 500 village residents on which parking system they would prefer. According to Derose, approximately 80 percent of the respondents indicated that they would prefer either no change—keeping the current system—or single-space “smart” meters on Mamaroneck Avenue.

According to Derose, the smart meters would be able to lock after a certain period of time, terminating users’ ability to add time to the meter. This, she explains, would promote greater turnover for merchants on Mamaroneck Avenue by easily enforcing a time limit.

Additoinally, Derose says, the meters, which would be equipped with sensors, would be able to determine when a car leaves a spot and would reset accordingly.

According to Trustee Illissa Miller, a Democrat, the introduction of the multi-space meters into the testing period—which Derose says will last 90 days—is an effort to best assess all the parking system options available.

“I think we should test different things,” Miller said at the Dec. 21 board meeting. “And why not have the option to test the meters on the avenue?”

The multi-space meters, which are now set to be tested on Mamaroneck Avenue and installed permanently in parking lots by Huntier Tier, Spencer lot and Phillips Park Road, were previously purchased for $115,000 by the village in 2014 but remain uninstalled after public backlash surrounding their implementation. In May 2015, residents spoke out during a public hearing against the use of automatic license plate reading technology which would need to be purchased and implemented by law enforcement in order to monitor a parking system using multi-space meters.

Currently, the multi-space parking meters purchased by the village remain stored in their original boxes.

Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, said that the trustees’ decision to pilot multi-space meters on Mamaroneck Avenue flies in the face of public opinion.

“The majority of people are dead set against the multi-space meters,” Rosenblum said. “The only reason they are being put up is because of the [obstinacy] of Potok and the other two [Democratic] trustees.”

Currently, according to Derose, there are two multi-space meters installed on Mamaroneck Avenue, but Rosenblum said they won’t be functional for about six to eight weeks.

After they are installed, data regarding both the single and multi-space meters will be collected for 90 days.

“What we would be doing is having an apples-to-apples comparison,” said Potok, at the Dec. 21 board meeting, “just to pilot the two competitors for single-space meters and one multi-space meters, and we’d learn how people take to each of them.”

Just what data the village would collect remains to be seen, according to Derose.

“I want to know specifically what data they’re trying to collect,” said Derose, who told the Review that she had contacted the trustees via email. “I haven’t heard anything.”

Miller could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: james@hometwn.com

 
Bronxville’s police union has accepted a four-year contract with the village that increases health insurance contributions for the membership. Salary increases of 1.75 percent are retroactive to June 1, 2015. 
File photo

New police contract increases contributions, salaries

Bronxville’s police union has accepted a four-year contract with the village that increases health insurance contributions for the membership. Salary increases of 1.75 percent are retroactive to June 1, 2015.  File photo

Bronxville’s police union has accepted a four-year contract with the village that increases health insurance contributions for the membership. Salary increases of 1.75 percent are retroactive to June 1, 2015.
File photo

By Sarah Varney
On Nov. 30, Bronxville Village Administrator James Palmer signed off on a three-page contract with the village’s police union that will increase police officers’ health insurance contribution to 17.5 percent starting in June 2016. The current percentage is 15. 

In addition, starting in June 2018, that contribution rate will increase to 20 percent for all active union members.

The new four-year contract expires on May 31, 2019.

Salary increases, which are retroactive to June 1, 2015, were set in the agreement for 1.75 percent for the first year of the agreement. In June 2016, salaries will increase by 2 percent, with another 2 percent to follow starting on June 1, 2017. In June 2018, PBA members will receive a 2.5 percent salary boost.

“We believe that the agreement is fair not only for the men and women of the police department, but also fair for the community,” Palmer said. “The numbers are consistent with what we’re seeing in other places.”

But the hike in insurance contributions for force members is presumably the biggest complaint.

That 20 percent contribution is higher than surrounding communities, according to Palmer. “We are one of the police-contracthighest communities in the area,” he said, comparatively speaking about the union members’ contribution rates.

Palmer estimated that health care costs to the village for union members had risen about 7 percent over 2015.

Current force members who pay into the New York State Police and Firefighter Retirement System plan for at least 20 years and serve in Bronxville for 15 years will benefit from an increase in village contributions to insurance from 75 percent to 85 percent. According to Palmer, only one officer currently meets that criteria. “We have a significant number of younger officers,” he said.

Current retirees will receive no increase in their plans and will continue to receive 75 percent in health insurance subsidization from the village, which is less than some surrounding communities, Palmer said. “There are many communities that pay 100 percent,” he noted, adding that there are no plans to add more police officers to the force.

In addition to the salary and health benefit items, the village and the PBA agreed to establish a Labor-Management Committee that has been meeting since June 1, 2015 comprising members of the police department and the village, appointed by Wilson Valentin, PBA president, and Palmer. The purpose of the committee is to coordinate police work shifts with village policing needs.

Multiple police officers reached out to by the Review declined to comment on the contract.

Valentin could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 
The horses on the Playland carousel were painted by hand, with no two alike, by the park’s resident artist.

A Playland worker’s wild ride

Larry McGowan retired from Playland last year but his love for the amusement park and his passion for music have made for a most interesting life. Photo courtesy Rat Race Choir

Larry McGowan retired from Playland last year but his love for the amusement park and his passion for music have made for a most interesting life. Photo courtesy Rat Race Choir

By CHRIS EBERHART
While sitting on the Playland carousel, a 5-year-old boy watched his alcoholic father stagger off into the parking lot, get into his car and drive away.

That was a typical day at the amusement park during Larry McGowan’s childhood. Until he was 13, he went to Playland with his father during the summer from Wednesday to Sunday. They’d ride the carousel together two or three times until his father drowned the afternoon in beer.

“If I ever did a movie about my life, it’d be me on the carousel waving to my father, and my father listening to music until he went to the beer stand,” McGowan, now 64, said. “He’d have a few beers and disappear. I’d be on the carousel, and I would just stay there. He’d drink and ride some rides and get in the car and go home… He’d pass out on the couch, and my mother had to take a bus to get me.”

But McGowan wasn’t resentful of his father’s absence. He was content as long as the carousel continued its circular path, the horses bobbing up and down, and the organ playing its iconic tune.

And that’s how, McGowan said, he learned to play the piano; that’s how he developed his ear for music; and that’s how the carousel essentially became McGowan’s first music teacher.

Larry McGowan’s skill and precision can be seen throughout the park, in everything from the painted display signs to the caterpillar ride. File photo

Larry McGowan’s skill and precision can be seen throughout the park, in everything from the painted display signs to the caterpillar ride. File photo

“If you make a noise, I can say it’s this note or that note. It’s a gift,” he said. “And I think I developed it as a kid while sitting on the carousel going round and round and round for hours and just listening to the tunes. Then I’d go home and noodle it out on the piano before I even knew how to play.”

Although McGowan’s first keyboard was a hand-me-down from his sister—he didn’t have formal piano lessons until he was 9 years old—it didn’t take long for him to learn to play as well as a child prodigy.

His first performances were at Catholic Mass at Stations of the Cross and Benedictions of the Blessed Sacrament in his local White Plains parish. McGowan’s religious upbringing was strong; he went to Mass every Sunday and he was taught in a Catholic parochial school his whole life.

Thus, McGowan’s teenage years brought about a crossroads.

At age 13, he played the organ in front of the pope at the noon Mass during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Not long after, his father bought him his first Wurlitzer piano. But at the same time, the Catholic faith tugged on his shirt sleeves, and he was forced to decide which career path to follow: music or the priesthood.

The horses on the Playland carousel were painted by hand, with no two alike, by the park’s resident artist.

The horses on the Playland carousel were painted by hand, with no two alike, by the park’s resident artist.

He joined the Carmelite Friars seminary, but his visit lasted only about six months.

“I used to play in the chapel when I thought no one was looking,” McGowan said. “I used to wear all these flashy things, and when [the priests] found me playing, they said, ‘This is not your calling. No, no. Showbiz is calling you.’”

Three years later, in 1967, he joined the Dunwoodie Seminary in Yonkers, but again stayed only six months.

“I thought [the priesthood] was going to be a way of life for me,” McGowan said. “I decided it wasn’t for me if I was going to be an entertainer. There was no drinking. No womanizing. No cursing. All the things
wrong with me that God is trying to fix.”

As much as he learned that the priesthood wasn’t for him, showbiz was.

And his musical career started in 1968 with Rat Race Choir, a progressive rock band that had a cult-like following on Long Island and the metropolitan area from the late ‘60s to the early ‘80s.

The group began as a bunch of teenagers in their White Plains homes. McGowan said he remembers practicing in his mother’s living room and performing in a number of Westchester venues and Long Island rock music clubs.

“It was a free-spirited time in my life,” McGowan said. “It was all geared around music and the band.”

It has been roughly 100 years since the carousel began operating. The amusement park ride has been a love of Larry McGowan’s ever since he joined Playland as a maintenance worker 35 years ago. Photos/Will Thomas

It has been roughly 100 years since the carousel began operating. The amusement park ride has been a love of Larry McGowan’s ever since he joined Playland as a maintenance worker 35 years ago. Photos/Will Thomas

But McGowan’s fast-paced world crashed and burned in 1979.

An internal strife with the band’s new management forced McGowan out of Rat Race Choir. The band was beginning to play in larger venues and clubs where sex and drugs were rampant.

McGowan didn’t like this new direction, and said he left Rat Race Choir with a bad taste in his mouth and most of his equipment either stolen or returned damaged.

After that, things only got worse.

On Halloween 1979, his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

She was his only parent, literally and figuratively; he had lost his father shortly after the World’s Fair in 1964 to cirrhosis of the liver and lung cancer.

She died that Christmas Eve, sending the 28-year-old spiraling down a black hole.

“I took the Bible and threw it across the room,” McGowan said, “and pointed my finger at the sky and [cursed]. ‘You took my mother away while I’m supposed to be celebrating Jesus.’”

The death of his mother flung McGowan, now an orphan, into a five-year-long “bender.”

He played gigs all over, including legendary nightclubs like Danceteria and Studio 54 until four or five in the morning. He attended party after party, met a slew of musicians and crashed in strangers’ homes.

“I don’t know what else to call it. I just let go,” he said. “It wasn’t just drinking. It was drugs, it was drinking, it was eating, it was having sex with all these theater people… I walked the borderline of excess of all the vices.”

McGowan was speeding 100 mph straight into a brick wall, when a Bible seminar at Madison Square Garden in New York City may have saved his life.

McGowan said he went to the seminar because he felt a need to reconnect with his faith, but was disgusted by the hypocrisy of priests in the Catholic Church who were involved in sex scandals. During the seminar, he heard about Clinton Utterbach of the Redeeming Love Christian Center and joined his church two weeks later.

“He saved me,” McGowan said of Utterbach. “He opened up my head and poured in all the biblical truths that I needed.”

With the Redeeming Love Christian Center, a born-again Christian church in Nanuet, N.Y., McGowan, then in his early 30s, found a new home. He sang in the choir and played the organ and the piano.

Life slowed down and started to brighten, and his Playland career then took off.

An employee at the amusement park, McGowan was the caretaker for the carousel’s organ. That was his baby, as he called it. He knew everything about the organ, and year after year, he made repairs to keep it up and running. For 35 years, McGowan made the 100-year-old carousel sing.

He made the rest of the park come alive by creating unique bright signs and hand-painted rides. He became Playland’s artist, and his job became that of a historic preservationist.

McGowan was given creative freedom to paint the rides and signs however he saw fit. Instead of painting the caterpillar ride the standard green, McGowan painted it blue with designs to make it pop. He used his artistic touch on the carousel too; all 66 horses on the ride were painted by hand, and no two were painted alike.

“And don’t you know, the ridership went way up,” McGowan said.

Larry McGowan, left, with his Rat Race Choir bandmates. Photo courtesy Rat Race Choir

Larry McGowan, left, with his Rat Race Choir bandmates. Photo courtesy Rat Race Choir

Tim Cronin, CSEA union leader, said the park was more to McGowan than just a job; it was a passion.

“The park is part of Larry, and Larry is part of the park,” Cronin said. “He loved it and it loved him back. He did everything in the park. He’d take apart all the rides and put them back together. He was the only one trusted to paint the [carousel] horses because he knew the historical way that they had to be painted.”

Playland was, once again, a major part of McGowan’s life, just as it had been when he was a child.

McGowan rejoined the Rat Race Choir in 2009 and took part in performances at Mamaroneck’s Emelin Theatre, among other venues in 2010. But it wasn’t all smiles from then on, as McGowan survived a detached retina, a car accident that caused deep vein thrombosis in his left leg, kidney stones, and a DWI arrest and rehab
in 2010.

McGowan smirked as he recalled the judge who oversaw his DWI case.

“He looked at my record and said, ‘Mr. McGowan, you have a very colorful background.’”

From that point on, McGowan says he has been clean. He retired from his job at Playland in July this year, accepting a retirement package; and he is waiting to see if Standard Amusements, Playland’s new operator, will offer him a contract to stay and continue his work as a historical preservationist.

In the meantime, he’s doing some work with a Sony music production company, helping to cut and edit tracks.

McGowan still lives in the same area near Bryant Avenue in White Plains where he grew up and where his band first began. But there’s one thing now void in his life: Playland, and he is yet to find something to replace it.

“Driving by in the early morning when the park is quiet, and I think there’s no real cause or reason to be here anymore,” McGowan said of the place he used to call home. “It’s such a big chunk of my life and now I have to find something else to take its place.”

Baby sister Hadley watches her older brother Jack Anderson, 8, perform with the second-graders for Milton’s holiday concert.

Milton students sing holiday favorites

Take your pick at beets and other seasonal produce at Mamaroneck’s Winter Farmers Market.

Biggest Mamaroneck winter farmers market opens

 

 

Take your pick at beets and other seasonal produce at Mamaroneck’s Winter Farmers Market.

Take your pick at beets and other seasonal produce at Mamaroneck’s Winter Farmers Market.

Ring in the new year in a sea of green goodness at Mamaroneck’s indoor farmers market, open through April.

Ring in the new year in a sea of green goodness at Mamaroneck’s indoor farmers market, open through April.

By NICOLE REED
On the heels of a bustling summer season at the Larchmont Farmers Market, many beloved Larchmont vendors are excited to pack up and move their goods to the Mamaroneck Winter Farmers Market. The indoor Mamaroneck market opens on Saturday, Jan. 2 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 168 W. Boston Post Road. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

The delicious staples of Mamaroneck will return, including local produce, fresh fish, pasture-raised meat, eggs, artisanal breads, baked goods, pickles, hummus, prepared foods to go and savory yogurt. Several new vendors will join the market this year, including Asian Farmer offering Chinese-style dumplings, GoGo Pops, which are healthy prepared foods and ice pops, Natural Contents Kitchen, which consists of seasonal foods and baked goods, and The Cheese Guy, who offers handcrafted cheeses. In February, renowned Lani’s Farm will begin selling their unique produce varieties in Mamaroneck, too. Their popular hot sampling station will be an inviting addition.

“A winter market is a special event, as it keeps people connected to eating locally year-round,” said Danielle Gaebel, co-founder of the Natural Contents Kitchen. “We just had a wonderful first year in Larchmont. Now we’re looking forward to continuing to see our Larchmont customers over the winter in neighboring Mamaroneck.”

Every vendor has a story that has led them to the farmers market.

The Cheese Guy, also known as Brent Delman, makes a wide selection of cheeses that are artisanal, vegetarian and kosher. He began his craft on the island of Sardinia, Italy, where he learned the traditional Italian methods of cheese making, using the island’s high quality ingredients. Years later, Delman perfected his work at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, where he made lifelong connections with local dairy farmers. Today, all of The Cheese Guy’s products at the Mamaroneck Winter Farmers Market start with milk from Vermont and New York state dairy farms. Vermont is also home to Delman’s cheese-making kitchen, where he produces goods about twice a month. His crew includes a rabbi who oversees the sanitization of the kitchen to ensure all kosher requirements are met. Once approved, Delman and his team begin creating everything from brie to Parmesan, with many worldly influences in between. farmers-market-2

As of press time, the confirmed weekly vendors for the Mamaroneck Winter Farmers Market include Asian Farmer; The Cheese Guy, Dr. Pickle, Gaia’s Breath Farm, Go-Go Pops, Kiernan Farm (pasture-raised meats), Meredith’s Bread, Natural Contents Kitchen, Orchards of Concklin, Orwasher’s Bakery, Pie Lady & Son, Sohha Savory Yogurt, Stone & Thistle (pasture-raised meats), Taiim Mobile Shack and Wave Hill Breads. In February, Lani’s Farm will begin.

The rotating day vendors are: Arlotta Food Studio, Bombay Emerald Chutney Company, Chirstiane’s Backstube, Kontoulis Family Olive Oil, MOMO Dressing, Robinson & Co. Catering (British specialties), Simple Eats with Chef T and Trotta Foods. The market will also host regular events, such as live music and kids activities.

Stay tuned to the Mamaroneck market webpage at DowntoEarthMarkets.com for vendor updates, as well as the weekly event calendar.

OP/ED

Op-Ed: Not surprised by Trump’s success

By CLIFFORD JACKSON

It is no surprise that Donald Trump is getting support from millions of whites across this country. It is also not surprising that he is doing so well in the polls, leading as the potential Republican nominee for president.

America has a racist and criminal history that is manifesting itself clearly today. Trump represents “Joe America,” who has been racist and brutal from the very beginning.

It is insane when you analyze and cogitate about this country’s history. The United States declared war on Mexico when it initiated the confrontation at the Rio Grande. It stole half of Mexico, literally killing, raping and beating the Mexicans into submission. Texas, California, New Mexico, Utah and part of Colorado used to be Mexico. Manifest Destiny sanctioned this barbaric behavior, saying that “it was divine providence that allowed the superior Anglo-Saxon race to subjugate inferior peoples.”

That is what Trump epitomizes and represents. He is the progeny of centuries of a pseudo-sense of white superiority and entitlement. That is exemplified in all of the laws and policies in this society that have provided for slavery, more than a century of legalized apartheid, and the destruction of Native Americans’ culture, attempting to make them white and Christianized, and displacing them to reservations where they have had one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Trump has said “blacks kill whites at a very high rate in this country.” Many whites believe that, but like many other things in America, it is based on a lie. Eighty-five percent of whites in this country are killed by other whites, according to the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department statistics. Even though white violent crime is the highest in this country among all industrial nations, Trump and his supporters will call that “liberal nonsense.” These are the same people that call African-Americans and the poor “lazy.” These are also the same people that when confronting the racism, ignorance and prefabrications of this society, will respond by being “politically correct,” which is nothing but a euphemism to try and ensconce the racist and very ugly and brutal history of this country.

Trump’s recent proposition to ban all Muslims from entering this country is very similar to Adolf Hitler and the nascent stages of the Third Reich. What Hitler did starting in the 1920s was initiate a form of German nationalism that excluded people of Slavic, Judaic and non-German descent. It led the National Socialist Party to take over the Reichstag and for him to become chancellor in 1933.

Both Hitler and Trump, especially with what Trump has been espousing, were, and are, in the forefront of white nationalism. Trump and his ilk ignore the fact that the United States has invaded, occupied or bombed 16 Muslim states since 1980—including Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Kosovo—but Trump’s supporters and their primitive way of thinking will call that “victimization.”

These people live in Mahopac, Bensonhurst and certainly are represented here in Larchmont. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “This is a sick and racist society.”

Clifford Jackson is a  resident of Larchmont. The views expressed are his.

 
COMPLETE-CANDIDATE

Ex-headhunters train college grads for real world

Nancy Thomas, left, co-founder of CompleteCandidate, a training program for college graduates, assists attendees at a company seminar. Contributed photo

Nancy Thomas, left, co-founder of CompleteCandidate, a training program for college graduates, assists attendees at a company seminar. Contributed photo

By KILEY STEVENS
College graduates tend to only want one thing after they cross the stage at commencement and receive their degrees: a job in their field. And all they have to do is market themselves in the ultra-competitive job market. 

Easy, right? Maybe for some, but others need a helping hand to really hone their sought-after talents. CompleteCandidate was designed with that in mind.

Launched by Nadine Varca Bilotta and Nancy Thomas in May 2015, CompleteCandidate is a training program that helps recent college graduates and upperclassmen market themselves to potential employers. These women have an interesting perspective on this type of training; both were members of a headhunting firm when they met in 1997 and then began their own executive search, consulting and training firm in 2000 called The LOF Group, which signifies the “leap of faith” it took for the two to begin their own firm.

When Varca Bilotta’s oldest daughter graduated from college, the two women began to notice that many of her classmates were asking job-seeking questions. As Varca Bilotta and Thomas began helping more recent grads, they created a workbook—the centerpiece for their CompleteCandidate training program—which encompasses all of the essentials needed to land a job as a young professional.

“We’ve found when someone is prepared for an interview, they have so much more confidence and they can land the job,” Thomas said.COMPLETE-CANDIDATE

The duo makes sure to prepare their clients down to the last handshake, and they customize their training to each individual.

Although Varca Bilotta lives in Mamaroneck and Thomas lives in South Carolina, their business runs smoothly. The two Skype often, and try to plan their seminars strategically, penciling in multiple sessions in Rye during one week so Thomas can attend.

CompleteCandidate offers tra-
ining both in seminar and private environments.

“We’re looking to help people find careers,” Varca Bilotta said. “We educated them to not just take a job, but to find out what your passion is.”

One of their success stories, Alexandra Chevalier, is now a talent development assistant in a major law firm’s professional development and legal recruiting department in Boston. A 2015 graduate of Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., and a Port Chester native, she completed the training program after she graduated in May.

“I was a recent college graduate with plenty of ability and potential,” Chevalier said, “with absolutely no knowledge on how to navigate the job market.”

Thomas and Varca Bilotta have noticed this trend: college graduates who possess abilities but have a hard time marketing themselves to the business world. They think that growing up in the digital world may have something to do with it.

“The business world is about relationships and communicating and following up,” Varca Bilotta said, “and kind of being the driver in terms of communication.”

In the social age, that can be difficult. Thomas believes today’s generation feels that it’s inappropriate to drive the follow-up, and that communicating too much comes across as being pushy. She relates it to the world of texting, where if someone texts too often, they’re perceived as annoying in some social situations.

“You have to be able to sell yourself, and there’s no way to do that in a text,” Varca Bilotta said. Packaging yourself, as the pair refers to it, is essential in being able to find a job. This is all in how a candidate dresses, speaks, and usually most importantly, formats their resume.

Matthew Wong, of Mamaroneck, a 2015 Tufts University graduate, is also a CompleteCandidate graduate, and said his resume—along with an unsuccessful job search—is what brought him to the training program.

“I felt like I had good experiences and skills but was having trouble getting it all across on one piece of paper.”

Wong said CompleteCandidate was “instrumental” in finding him a job. He currently works in the treasury department of a subsidiary of Omnicom Group, a large media holdings company, in Greenwich, Conn.

It is this sense of helping others that have made the women’s career switch worth it.

“I think we can both say that this work is so much more rewarding than placing people, because we’re helping people,” Varca Bilotta said.

The company’s next seminar will be held on Jan. 8 at the Serendipity Labs in Rye. The cost of each seminar or four-hour block of private training is $595.

CONTACT: kiley@hometwn.com

 
OSBORNffff

School board to discuss larger class sizes

With school enrollment numbers oftentimes difficult to predict on a year-by-year basis, the Rye City Board of Education will soon receive a presentation on increasing class sizes. The school district’s fifth grade class enrollment, which includes the Osborn School, is considered massive this year, according to a district official. File photo

With school enrollment numbers oftentimes difficult to predict on a year-by-year basis, the Rye City Board of Education will soon receive a presentation on increasing class sizes. The school district’s fifth grade class enrollment, which includes the Osborn School, is considered massive this year, according to a district official. File photo

By Sarah Varney
At the Jan. 12 meeting, the Rye City Board of Education will hear a proposal to change the class size policy for grades three through five to allow 20 to 25 students per class.

The current policy with recommended class sizes of 18 to 22 students would remain in effect for kindergarten through second grade. Due diligence and the need for flexibility in accommodating enrollment fluctuations are the primary reasons for the proposed increase, according to Dr. Betty Ann Wyks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

“It’s budget time and these things come up,” said Wyks, who will be presenting the proposal to the school board.

Karen Belanger, a member of the city Board of Education, added that space constraints, aligned with enrollment increases in certain grades, are a continuing factor. Belanger is the chairwoman of the board’s school policy committee.

Unanticipated enrollment growth in the district’s schools has been a frequent factor over the last few years. During the 2014-2015 school year, overcrowding in 10th grade math classes necessitated adding another class, for which an additional math teacher was hired this past summer, according to school district officials. This year, the districtwide fifth grade class is “massive,” according to Sarah Derman, the district’s chief information officer. Rye Middle School gained 81 students for the current 2015-2016 school year. An enrollment increase at Rye High School during the 2014-2015 school year translated to approximately 100 students migrating into grades nine to 12.

“[The proposed policy change] gives us a way to start a discussion,” Belanger said. “It is a subject that needs to be discussed from an educational standpoint, the standpoint of space constraints and from a financial standpoint.”

Belanger stressed that cost-saving is not likely to be a huge factor in this policy discussion.

The current policy that recommends 18 to 22 students per class has been in place since July 2011. “Reasonable class sizes” without proscribed numbers is the policy for the middle and high schools, according to the current policy.

At the Jan. 12 meeting, Wyks will use a Brookings Institute 2011 compilation of class size research conducted in the United States and Canada since the mid-2000s to determine the recommended class size. The majority of those studies seem to suggest that for economically disadvantaged students, fewer students make a big difference.

Molly Ness, a Midland School mother and assistant professor of childhood education at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education, agreed that the research is mixed on the effects of class size.

“The research is really split on this, but overall it is not compelling enough to say that [an increase in suggested class sizes] would necessarily be a bad thing,” she said.

The fact that fifth-graders will soon move on to middle school and a larger class anyway is also a mitigator, Ness added. Research is more unified in showing that class sizes matter less in both middle school and high school also, she noted.

And in Rye, even if the proposed increase in class sizes for grades three through five does come to pass, it might not be very problematic. “If the proposal passes and parents aren’t happy, they’ll go out and get tutors for their kids,” Ness said.

Wyks noted that the flexibility to have either as few as 20 students to as many as 25 students in a class would not be drastic enough to have much of an impact. Starting in third grade, the developmental differences between children are pretty much evened out, she said.

In education circles, the 20 to 25 student range is considered “medium.” Eighteen to 22 students is considered small, and 27 to 32 students in a class is considered large.

Even so, “our big class sizes aren’t really that big in the real world,” Wyks said.

CONTACT sarah@hometwn.com