More than 110 supporters and civic and community leaders attended the Friends of White Plains Public Schools 25th Anniversary Gala at Westchester Hills Golf Club on Sunday, April 24th. The event raised more than $25,000 for academic and cultural enrichment programs in the White Plains Public Schools.
Many speakers, including White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Ricca, praised the evening’s honoree, Michele Schoenfeld, for her 40 years of service as Clerk of the White Plains Board of Education and her many other leadership roles in community organizations. “Michele has not only been indispensable to the Board,” said longtime School Board President Rosemarie Eller, “but she has become a trusted advisor and my close friend.”
Others attending the event were Westchester County Executive George Lattimore, State Senator Shelley Mayer, State Assembly members Chris Burdick and Amy Paulin, White Plains Councilmen Jason Brasch and John Martin, and all members of the White Plains Board of Education.
Lively entertainment was provided by the White Plains High School Jazz Combo under the direction of Zachary May. A highlight was a special musical tribute to Michele performed by her grandson, White Plains High School sophomore Matthew Welling, accompanied by Donald Stevens, Jr.
Michele received proclamations from various officials, including State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and personal thanks from Adele Herzenberg and Kara McCormick-Lyons, Presidents of the White Plains Civil Service Employees Association and the White Plains Teachers Association. Her children, Steven Schoenfeld and Susie Welling, presented Michele with an engraved brick for display outside of White Plains High School.
The Friends, a volunteer run organization founded in 1997, has, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of loyal donors, donated more than $460,000 to fund over 200 programs and activities that have enriched the educational experiences of thousands of students in all White Plains Public Schools. At the Gala the Friends presented engraved crystal paperweights as a token of our appreciation to three current board members who have served since the organization was created 25 years ago – Ann Edwards, Marc Sharff and Nick Wolff.
The Friends are grateful to the hundreds of White Plains residents, teachers, staff members and local businesses who participated in the Gala. Special thanks to our fifteen corporate sponsors, including Platinum Sponsor the Farrell Companies, Gold Sponsor Keane& Beane, P.C. and Silver Sponsors Griffin, Coogan, Sulzer & Horgan, P.C., H2M Architects & Engineers, and White Plains Hospital.
RECENT NEWS AND TESTIMONIALS
The end of the 2019-20 school year was a difficult time for everyone, but we were still able to fund a few programs which we are proud of, such as Beyond Ballroom Dancing at Mamaroneck Avenue School!
"By providing the students with exposure to concepts that are not normally introduced it enriched their school experience. Children have not had very varied experiences in the last couple of years. They haven't been going places and seeing new things. Experiences such as this help children have a more positive feeling about school by being engaging and motivating. In addition, it exposed them to something they had never seen before."
-2nd Grade Classroom Teacher at GW Elementary School, evaluating the virtual space assembly we funded in November 2021.
Thanks to the generous grant you awarded, we were able to have the 6 videos compiled and edited by a professional video editing service that specializes in musical performances. THANK YOU!
~ Gary West, Director of Fine Arts, K-12 (2021)
We are over the moon and back again! Thank you so much for your generous donation to both our Juniors and Seniors! I have been busy all morning moving forward with plans for both events. We are so looking forward to celebrating our students!
~ Natasha Freeman-Mack, Administrator for High School Student Activities (2021)
I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and generosity. Thank you for end events for graduating 8th graders at Highlands. I am so fortunate to have such wonderful community partners. Please extend my thanks and the gratitude of the Highlands 8th grade students to all of the Friends of White Plains Public Schools!
~ Ernie Spatafore, Principal, Highlands Middle School (2021)
The 2018 Beyond Ballroom Dancing production at Ridgeway School was a huge success, and we were thrilled to receive words of appreciation from multiple Ridgeway parents. For those who aren't familiar with Beyond Ballroom Dancing, here is a video of the Ridgeway performance.
After the program, we were contacted by a number of Ridgeway parents to express their happiness with the program, and it brings us great joy to share their words with you:
As a mom of two kids who have participated in this program, I am amazed to see how alive the kids are at the performance day/days!! From not wanting to touch another boy/girl, they all step up to the challenge with such confidence and poise! Mr. C has been an incredible role model for these kids, teaching teamwork, kindness, patience, confidence and friendship to all of the students. I am very lucky to live in such an amazing community, rich in arts programs! Thank you for funding and sponsoring incredible programs to our kids. - - - Jen G.
Please extend our gratitude to the Friends of White Plains Public Schools for the amazing Beyond Ballroom program! My son was introduced to and inspired by the joy of dancing through this program. The overwhelming joy visible on our 4th graders faces and shared by the audience was truly exceptional. This school event, more than others I have attended, provided a great sense of community and camaraderie. Dance, like all the Arts, truly cross through so many differences and concerns to unify our communities and children. I am proud to be a part of our White Plains School District community, in part, because of the emphasis on such programs. --- Carol E.
To be honest, our son Nathaniel, has been skeptical about ballroom dancing since he first heard from the chatter at Ridgeway as a kindergartener. "I am not dancing with a girl and so on." He continued complaining from that point until the beginning of 4th Grade....until he met Mr. C and his wonderful energy and practiced this fabulous program. He would come home after practice and hum the cha-cha and show us some moves. He was so excited to show us and perform on stage. We had a great time at the performance. My husband video-taped the dance and those smiles the kids all had on stage, during the flubs and achievements. It was truly brilliant to watch the boy/girl interactions.
After the dance, I was sharing this story with friends of mine in other parts of our county and from FL and CT. They had never heard of such a program and thought it was brilliant as well. I thank you for your generosity and making this experience beautiful and memorable. --- Noreen and Allan G.
The show held on 11/27/18 at Ridgeway was magical! The kids did such a fantastic job and Mr. C seems like a wonderful instructor who helped them learn manners, teamwork and respect in addition to dancing.
Thank you to the Ridgeway administrators, the district and the Friends of White Plains Public Schools for sponsoring these extra activities for the children - just another reason why White Plains schools are so great for our children and our families! Thanks again, --- Leanne S.
We're thrilled to hear reports that the "virtual space assembly" at GW Elementary School in November 2021 was a big success! We've heard that the students were engaged by the content, including specific reports that students loved “Marshy” - a poor marshmallow that had dreams of visiting Mars but instead was used to demonstrate what would happen to a marshmallow in the vacuum of space!