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August 14, 2020


Vito Pinto talks to Bronxville High School juniors about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Photo credit: Bronxville Union Free School District Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bronxville Union Free School District
Veteran Michael Fix visits Bronxville High School juniors to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Photo credit: Bronxville Union Free School District Photo Credit: Photo credit: Bronxville Union Free School District
Mount Vernon City School District honor students set up a display during a recent high school information session for eighth-graders and their parents. Photo credit: Courtesy of Mount Vernon City School District Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mount Vernon City School District

Around The Schools: Drug Counselor Course Is NY's First, Vets Remind Students Of Pearl Harbor

Here's a New York first: Mahopac High School now offers its students the Substance Abuse, Addiction & Recovery course leading to counselor certification. 

It is a viable career in New York, which is fourth, to California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, for having the most employment options for substance abuse counselors.

The elective will start in January and be open to juniors and seniors. It teaches students the facts on substance abuse, addiction, and recovery in their local environment, "so they have a stake in the vitality of it," said the district, noting the philosophy behind the offering.

Davia Bugge, a licensed clinical social worker, and the school's student assistance counselor, and Valarie Nierman the district's health coordinator and high school health teacher, designed the half-credit class. It provides an instructive immersion in substance abuse awareness, prevention, and treatment but also enables a viable career path opportunity.

“Our goal is to help students better understand the plight of those who have seen their lives thrown into chaos as a result of drugs and alcohol abuse and then offer a practical way for making a possible profession in helping with recovery,” said Anthony DiCarlo, superintendent of schools.

The course work covers basic knowledge of substance abuse disorders; overview of the addictions field; and diversity of intervention and treatment approaches.

The curriculum will include partnerships with local and state services, such as Arms Acres, Cove Care Center,  Drug Crisis in our Backyard, The Harris Project, New York Department of Education and New York Department of Health.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 50 percent of all high school seniors nationwide have used some sort of illicit drugs in their lifetimes; while 60 percent of them had consumed alcohol within their last year of school, so there is a big need for treatment professionals.

“This is why we included the OASAS (NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports) certification component to the elective which will provide each student the first-level of becoming a certified substance abuse counselor,” Bugge said.

Mahopac High School is the first school in the entire state of New York to request and be granted approval as an OASAS Education and Training Provider.

Performing Arts & STEAM Are Options In Mount Vernon

Rising eighth-graders in Mount Vernon City School District have three options: a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) High School, the Nellie A. Thornton School for the Performing and Visual Arts and The Mount Vernon High School.

The diverse options tie into the district's 20/20 Vision, allowing students to attend a high school that best fits their talents, interests and goals

“Our programs prepare students to get into competitive colleges with credits already under their belts, to earn scholarships and graduate without the burden of extraordinary debt," said Superintendent of Schools Kenneth R. Hamilton 

“Definitely STEAM seems like a perfect choice for me,” said Khalyl Evans, one of the eighth-graders who attended an information session with their parents.

"I love technology, especially virtual reality," Khalyl said.

Tianna Hughes said she wants to attend the performing arts school.

“I’ve always been into music, songwriting, singing, and dancing,” said Tianna. “It will be nice to go to a school where other people understand the importance of music in society.”

There are 16 schools in the district serving 8,000 students.

Vets Want Teens To Know About 'Devastating Attack'

Local veterans Michael Fix and Vito Pinto led social studies classes Dec. 5 and 6 to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“I want the young people to remember those who served at Pearl Harbor and throughout the war and the naval aviation role in the Pacific navy battles,” said Pinto, a veteran of the Vietnam War. 

“It was a devastating attack and all too many people forget it. It’s important to remember those who served. Remember them, respect them and reflect on where we are today, and never forget.”

History and Advanced Placement U.S. History students watched video footage from the war and a clip from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famed speech to Congress in which he called the date of the attack – which forced the United States into World War II – “a date which will live in infamy.” 

A "powerful part" of the Pearl Harbor presentation was when the classes learned about people from Bronxville connected to Pearl Harbor, according to  teacher Chris Doyle.