*Members: If you have any announcements that you would like to post on the ROBS web site, please contact Nick Siciliano at
             News2@robsny.org. Announcements will be posted each month on this page. If you miss any previous month's announcements,
             you can view them at the Archives page of this web site. You can also read more news in our Newsletters. In addition, if you have
             your own web site, and would like to share it with other members, let us know and we can include the link on the ROBS site.

  IN THE NEWS                                                                          OCTOBER 2012

October 5

General Membership Meeting
"Welcome New Members"

October 10
High Tea
Information Flyer
also see Calendar Events

October 18
Executive Board Meeting
Meeting Dates

From: Sheila & Letty Sustrin
POSTED 10/1/12

     Sixteen years ago, ROBS began PROJECT HOPE! This project was a way that the RETIREES OF THE BRENTWOOD SCHOOLS could show our support and love for the families the district services. Through “Suburban Children, Inc.” an organization located in Bay Shore, we have been able to adopt local families and give them “HOPE” during the Holiday Season. Our organization provides food for Thanksgiving, and gifts for the members of the families at Christmas time.
     We have been fortunate that our ROBS members have been so generous each year
when,”giving” time has come. With your wonderful support, ROBS has been able to adopt four families each year. We hope we can do this again.
     PROJECT HOPE has touched the lives of many; not only the families that we make happy, but also those who are involved in trying to fulfill some of the dreams of people that are less fortunate than themselves.
     You will be receiving a letter at a future date asking for your generous monetary donations. Let's continue to support this worthy tradition.
     We are honored to be chairing this committee for the coming season. We're looking forward to our fun days of shopping (one of our favorite pastimes). The elves helping us shop will be Lois Morella, Loretta Ellington, and Anne Mygland.
     Please make your checks out to: ROBS, and put “Project Hope” in the memo area. All donations should be sent to:
Marge Kirchner
666 Hawkins Road East
Coram, N.Y. 11727

Have a wonderful holiday season.
Sheila & Letty Sustrin

POSTED 10/1/12

     One of the many ways that ROBS helps the community is through it's donation of food to PRONTO's Food Pantry. PRONTO is a non-profit agency that provides services to the residents of the community and is located on Pine Aire Drive, Bay Shore.  It has been providing these services for over 40 years.
      ROBS members bring food items to each of the monthly meetings. Frank Spencer collects all of the donations and drops them off to PRONTO. Below is a letter of appreciation that Frank received that he would like to share with our memebers.
View letter here.

POSTED 10/18/12

     The Sustrin twins will read and sign the latest book of their "Teacher Who Would Not Retire" series, at the ROBS meeting on November 2nd. This fourth book is titled, The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Becomes A Movie Star. There will be a drawing for one book, and each attendee at the meeting will receive a special souvenir tocommemorate the 10th anniversary of Mrs. Belle, “Everybody?s Favorite Teacher!”

POSTED 10/6/12
by Elmon Kazandjian
Reprintted from Bayard Cutting Farm Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 14 October 5, 2012
      Who knew that there are many weeds that are actually nutritious for you? I certainly know about dandelions, which my Italian neighbors taught me to use in salads, though not to make into wine. I guess I wasn't considered old enough. Mr. La Rosa not only made dandelions part of his diet but also made red wine in barrels in his basement, which he only shared with me by the perfume that permeated to my end of the block.
     I was lucky enough, though, to have an elderly, feisty Aunt from Connecticut who always brought us bunches of greens from her garden that sort of looked stemmy with lots of ovalish succulent little leaves attached. She called it " Perr-Perr" in Armenian. I thought it looked too foreign for me to eat, but my mother gladly chopped it raw into salads, or steamed it with olive oil and herbs and combined some into a rice or a bulgur dish. Who knew then that this was just a weed that invades and conquers? I was excited to see it growing on the Bayard Cutting farm grounds, and asked Jeff if I could take some. Of course he consented, and I think he would have been happy to see me and my husband rip up a lot more from his carefully cultivated beautiful grounds.
     Aunt Z, the consummate back seat driver who taught herself how to drive at age 60, I think of you whenever I see lemony Purslane. I now realize that you shared a nutritious weed that I have come to love and respect.
      So those of you that want to help with the volunteer weeding, don't forget to try some purslane. If you are not adventurous enough to try it, at least think of my Aunt Z as you weed away!

POSTED 10/12/12
      On 10-11-12, after a 9-month battle with lymphoma, Mollietta (Poppy) Comunale, a brave wife, mother, grandmother, and sister, passed peacefully at home with her three children and husband at her side.
     Wake services will be held on Sunday from 2 to 4 and from 7 to 9pm at Overton Funeral Home, Islip. The Funeral will be held at St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Shore on Monday morning followed by her burial at St. Lawrence the Martyr Cemetery in Sayville.
     In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted in her name by the Lymphoma Research and Treatment Fund c/o J. Leonard, M.D. Weill Cornell Medical College 1305 York Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10021.     
     Poppy retired from Sonderling H.S. in 1995, where she worked as the school's nurse.

POSTED 10/18/12

     Where were you in October of 1962 and what were you doing during that crisis? Please email us and share your story. The following was submitted by John Sherin:

Recalling the Cuban Missal Crisis
         “We had the first snow of the season last night. There wasn’t a sign of it when I went to bed this morning, only a little rain. When I rose there were already two inches on the ground and it was still coming down furiously.…..This is the first time in my life that I have ever seen snow come this early. It seems odd to see green leaves and yellow peeking out from under the white and the hardiest of chrysanthemums buried beneath the wet weight. Only the day before yesterday the temperature had been in the seventies. I guess Fall forgot what it was supposed to be doing and relaxed just long enough to let the world go spinning on ahead without it. Today, after this anything but subtle hurry up reminder from old man winter things will from now on I fear be different. From my window I see the ground around a dogwood that only yesterday had not as yet so much as given up even a single leaf. From here I can see the white under its base splattered with browns and yellows and reds”.
     “Even for those perennials with red blooms those flowers all summer long danced in a circle around the house next door dying will come more quickly and easier now. It makes one wonder if nature (itself) doesn’t know something that we here in this life can only intuit. Could autumn’s reluctance to leave us suggest, or rather portend the arrival of some catastrophic moment in history which would prohibit her joyous seasonal display of exhilarating color associated with Fall”?
     “We seem to be drifting ever closer to some awful moment with the dawning of each new day. Yet, by God’s grace it may not come. The present course, however risky, is the only course open to us, and the determination with which people here are facing an uncertain future however frightened they may be from the vantage point of the path upon which we have embarked, is a wonder to behold. “The man that will listen to reason, let him be reasoned with “…but it is the weaponed arm of the patriot that alone can prevail against battalioned despotism”. So spoke a Great Uncle (“The O’Rahilly”) in the city of Kilkenny, Ireland years ago and prior to The Easter Rising in Dublin. His words may still apply. However grave things may appear now and they do look ominous, it is my belief that what we fear most, will not happen. We will likely learn to live with this fear for the rest of our lives or for the better part of our lives and with each new instance of “what could happen” becoming more unthinkable, have little choice but to confront the fear again and again”.
John M. Sherin @ Age: 25
Journal Entry:  Long Island, NY  
October 25, 1962

The Soviets publicly balked at the US demands, but in secret back-channel communications initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962,[7] when President John F. Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached a public and secret agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the US agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Turkey and Italy.  
From Wikipedia

How are we doing?
We'd like to hear from you.

Please visit our
Letters to the Editor

where you can share your views and comments


View the "In Memoriam" page
with the list of our Brentwood colleagues who have passed away. This list will be updated on a yearly basis.

Support VOTE-COPE with your voluntary contribution. Download the VOTE-COPE Contribution Card here.

October 16
Tour NYC High Line & Intrepid and Space Shuttle.

Rescheduled due to weather
December 11
Welcome Brunch

For information visit
RC 21 Website: http://ny.aft.org/rc21
Sheila & Letty Sustrin
Children's Books Authors

John M. Sherin
Local /Regional
(Jigsaw Maps)600
Geography Manipulatives


Complete Team Building Kits
Teaching Cooperation/ Collaboration
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


Alida Thorpe
Island Vision Photography, Inc.

Rick Mundy
Watercolor Prints of L.I., Adirondacks, NYC...

Gloria Hannemann
Hardwood Flooring and
Home Improvement


Elmon Kazandjian
NYC Art Gallery

Rose Marie Brousseau
Brentwood Rotary Club

Ronda Brooks
Children's Social Skills Groups
Rich Graziano
Mr. Graziano's Science Class
Academic Enrichment and Remedial Websit

 Millie O'Neill, whose birthday occurred on Aug 11, 1928 was a much loved cafeteria aide and corridor monitor in the Ross Building. She died on March 21, 2006 after a long illness. 

by Millie O'Neill

     As one mentions the first day of school it brings to mind the importance of first impressions. I think of the many times when an assembly would be held on the first day and as I passed by the auditorium I would hear some of the speeches being given. Deep down inside I felt like saying: "Step down and give me a chance to speak to the students." I, in my own mind, began to compose a speech. It would have gone something like this.
     Hi, some of you know me but for those who don't, my name is Millie. You may meet me working in the hall, in the lunchroom and, on occasion, in your classroom I've always worked on the honor system. You honor me and I'll honor you, in other words, respect is a two-way street. As you know, it requires a pass to move through the building so if you'll take the time to get the pass, both your job and mine will be that much easier.
    The topic I'd really like to discuss is that as workers in Brentwood High we take great pride in our students. The past years have proven that. Each one of you has a great deal of potential and though it may be some time yet before you've chosen a career let me state that there is

nothing that you will learn that will ever go to waste. For those who believe they will get by with little effort, you have to be aware you'd only be cheating yourself. Your own self esteem should tell you just how important you are, so don't allow your high school years to go to waste. Some of you may go on to college and others to a career—the choice is yours—but whichever it is, you are going to need the basics that are available right here. We have wonderful teachers and staff who are more than willing to assist you in any way possible.
     If you are having a problem with a subject and need extra help, express that concern to your teacher. A teacher can't do the learning for you but they can open the door that allows you to learn. As I stated, we take a great deal of pride in any of your accomplishments and any amount of progress, be it large or small, is a step in the right direction. You 'II only get out of school what you put into it. How much of a wealth of education you leave here with is up to you—it's your future we are talking about. You'd be indignant if someone attempted to steal your possessions, so the next time you might think of slacking off think of how you are robbing yourself.
     Also be aware that the learning process is apart of reaching maturity. Not all learning comes from books. As you glance at students and staff you'll find an array of color, nationality and creed which gives us an opportunity of learning from many different cultures. Each one of us is unique and we all possess many talents. Take the time to learn from each
other and you'll find an opportunity of growth. Don't look into another person's face to decide negative or positive—reach for their soul, for this is where learning begins. In other words, get to know each other. One day when I was in charge of a gym class the students requested to play dodge ball so I gave them the okay. Sportsmanship was evident and everyone was having such a good time. I marveled at the difference in color, creed, nationality-different but yet the same. They all came together as one, they played together as a team. The thought came to mind as to how many times Brentwood is put down as an integrated neighborhood and if they could see the sight I saw that afternoon they would know that Brentwood is more enriched because of the differences, for they are making it work. Which brings to mind another occasion when my son-in-law's car became stranded in the snow. A young man stopped to assist him. As my son-in-law thanked him he replied "No need to thank me. God sent me. I'm from Brentwood." Spirit is what I find in Brentwood and I know it will continue with you. You too can boast of residing in Brentwood and remember it's only going to be as good as you and I make it so let's show them just how great we are,
     I, along with all the staff, wish you a healthy happy school year and if each one works to their potential we can't ask for more. Best of luck to you and we love you all.

Why did we do it? What was our purpose in taking on such an open ended “History Project”; the one for which we’ve evolved a script of questions with corresponding answers from over one hundred and fifty dedicated volunteers for nearly two decades?
      We couldn’t answer the question in ‘94 when people would ask “What are you going to do with the interviews?” All we could say was that for educational and informational purposes we had better document our record or lose any chance to preserve innumerable poignant accounts, humorous stories and touching tales told to us by exemplary educators and dedicated public servants, who shortly and for reasons unknown might soon be leaving our Brentwood for good.
     We decided to let time sort out the details as we commenced making appointments to ask questions and simply listen. Listen we did as this project evolved saving for subsequent generations the very essence of what it means to have been an educator or employed in a large student centered public school system during the latter half of the twentieth century. Brentwood remains an exemplar to all the others; a diverse microcosm and accurate reflection of the approximately one hundred and twenty seven neighboring school districts on Long Island and the thousands across this country. We’ve accomplished something here, something we can all be proud of having been part of, whether we were interviewed or not, ours is a claim of service that few other professionals in the State of New York are positioned to share in a like manner.
     INITIALLY the practice of sitting for an hour with the Subject of our interview and giving them one hundred percent of our focused attention for that period of time seemed a little threatening to many of our friends and former colleagues. So much so in fact that many declined repeated invitations to be interviewed as they left careers behind or retired from full time employ with the District. Despite all assurances that this was not to be about investigative journalism or invading their privacy, they’ve deferred. Until now, almost seventeen years after we began, some say they may finally be ready. We say, “Better late than never”. However, to all those among you who were willing to share openly not only your classroom experiences but personal stories, precious memories from your lives and fondest hopes for the future, we say thanks for allowing us to be able to continue the process of giving as we now are able to share interviews with you, with the community and with countless regional professional educators and researchers through tentative acceptance of ROBS offer of collaboration with The Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University.
      You can now enjoy unlimited visits to www.robsny.org/ where you’ll see and hear segments from the History Project Interviews featured here in the ROBS History Project section on the Announcements Page archived each month thereafter for those wishing to return again and again.


Evelyn Jean Sekac

     Evelyn Jean Sekac (nee Driscoll) was born in1946 in Manhattan at New York Hospital. Growing up in Queens N.Y., she aspired to a Secretarial career based upon having been influenced by two Aunts; Betty and Kay, who supported themselves and their families as single women out of necessity at a time when most women were still at home. She began her career in the private sector holding positions at Household Finance, the banking industry and at a law firm in Manhattan. She credits a few tough teachers in her early life as being responsible for shaping her present life. When Evelyn and her husband moved to Brentwood in 1974 they had two sons (39 and 42 at the time of this interview), who attended the Brentwood school system and went on to complete college. She learned how to drive and then sat for the Civil Service Exam. She was interviewed by Irv Masten in 1981 for a part time job that included summers but was still considering a return to the private sector. Instead she found herself crafting a professional career in Brentwood that lasted 27 years.  Her role in the Speech and Hearing Center with Irv Masten spanned 14 years. Her time here included 2 years at Loretta Park, and time at the High School with Andy Lovitto, Juana Perez, and Charlotte De Champ in the Evening School. Her career culminated with her much loved 2½ last years in the Music Department with Dr. Joel Rattner. She worked through the tech revolution of the 70’s and 80’s, recalling Xerox machines and purple dittos and how a single mistake might require an entire document be completely typed over again. Evelyn’s husband was already encouraging her to retire when in July of her last year she developed Bell’s Palsy. That was the last straw. She felt it was truly time to retire. She’d been in the right place at the right time doing what life had prepared her to do, she told us. When she worked at South West Elementary she did so with an awareness of the challenges faced by hearing challenged members of her own father’s family. She brought that sensitivity to people with whom she came in contact and spoke of the time when Brentwood was the only school district in the State of New York to employ a full time audiologist on staff.  “Secretaries are the glue that bind”, she said. “They are the thread that connects teachers, students, principals and parents”. She applauded the work of Terry Wolf and the Clerical Association for the work they did and expressed pride in the dedication of her fellow clericals and all the bosses and supervisors with who she served throughout the years. Evelyn still feels connected by her friendships that have lasted a lifetime. She remains active in the Retirees of Brentwood Schools and attends regular meetings.

You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives :

Baker Bazata, Eleanor
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Balinski, Wally
Brooks, Ronda
Carey, Dick
Carpenter, Beverly
Cerullo, Peter
Corkery, Florence
Cuneen, Ray
Curio, Rich
DeBellis, Claudia
DeBellis, Helen
DeBellis, Michael
DePlaza, Marilyn
Desoto, Edward
DiMento, Peter
Edwards, Richard
Efron, Martin
Fasullo, Mike
Felicio, Anthony
Filosa, Edith
Fiore, Marcy
Hannan, Edward
Helman, Harriet
Hodges, Shirley
Kirschner, Marge
Koehler, Florence
Lane, William
Lange, Joan
Laub, Dr. Herb
Martz, David
Mascaro, Barbara
McNicholas, Barbara
Monsen, Pattie
Moss, Ken
Mundy, Rick
Murray, Alma
Nanos, Jim
O'Conner, Thomas
Pace, Ron
Purcell, Joseph
Rosenthal, Ivy
Rosenthal, Ruth
Salerno, Hank
Scharf, Karen
Sekac, Evelyn
Sheele, Raymond
Sopp, Lorraine
Spencer, Franklin
Stuhler, Patricia
Sustrin, Letty and Sheila
Vannoy, Evelyn
Veech, Chris
Walker Lloyd, Shirley
Wolfe, Jeffrey
Zuckerman, Dorothy
Zuckerman, Jack




    Classified Section
THE TOWN CRIER -  MarilynDePlaza@aol.com

Marilyn DePlaza
  "The Town Crier" was set up a number of years ago so that the retirees of the Brentwood School District could have an email center to stay in touch. Since I began to send out all sorts of information, retirees from all over the country have sent me their email addresses. Some have asked, "Do you have any idea where so and so is?" Others have sent proud news of their accomplishments, their family news, photos,etc. and sadly, we often get bad news. Many retirees whom I have never met write me to thank me for keeping this connection going, as everyone remembers the Brentwood years with warm feelings.

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