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Creating Beautiful Smiles Orthodontist Dr. Randall Shults Has Been Taking Care Of Wellington Families For Three Decades

Creating Beautiful Smiles Orthodontist Dr. Randall Shults Has Been Taking Care Of Wellington Families For Three Decades

By M. Dennis Taylor

Orthodontist Dr. Randall Shults has been perfecting the smiles of Wellington-area residents for nearly 30 years.

Originally from Littleton, Colorado, Shults moved to Wellington in the spring of 1993 and established his practice, Shults Orthodontics, in the community.

“Littleton is a small suburb of Denver, and a fabulous place to grow up with seemingly unlimited access to the great outdoors,” he recalled. “I moved to Wellington for the similar small-town atmosphere and great local schools.”

Shults was attracted to his vocation of orthodontics early in life.

“My second-grade teacher had the warmest, most beautiful smile I had ever seen,” Shults explained. “I appreciated at a very young age that your smile, and how you choose to use it, is your introduction to others the first time you meet, and every social interaction thereafter.”

His interest in orthodontics only grew as he began his professional training.

“While attending dental school, the chair of the orthodontics department selected two dental students to treat orthodontic patients,” Shults recalled. “I saw the response to well-done orthodontic correction dramatically enhance my patient’s appearance, confidence, self-esteem, and improve her oral health and general physical well-being. The deal was sealed for me. I knew as a third-year dental student what I wanted to do with my professional career.”

Through the years, Shults has acquired impressive credentials and training. He graduated with honors from the University of Colorado School of Dentistry in 1984 and completed his orthodontic residency and certification at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry in 1989. He also received his PhD in sensory physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and was a recipient of the Dentist-Scientist Training Award from the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, he is a past president of the Palm Beach County Dental Association, past peer review chair of the Palm Beach County Dental Association and has been the orthodontic section chair of the Atlantic Coast Dental Research Center since 2010.

Shults feels that what sets his practice apart is his evidence-based treatment.

“That is choosing the most appropriate orthodontic treatment based on the best science available today,” he explained. “In other words, doing the right things for the right reasons… We help you make the difficult decisions, and then take care of you with compassion and kindness.”

Shults is proud to live and work in the local community.

“I live in Wellington, and my commitment and lifetime passion is to provide patients with excellent orthodontic care. We are here to serve the entire family, from seven to 70,” he said. “We welcome patients with ‘routine’ orthodontic needs or with more complex concerns, which may require orthopedic jaw growth modification or team treatment involving jaw surgery and restoration of missing or broken teeth.”

Shults said that this level of service benefits the client, providing more confident and attractive smiles; easier access for better dental hygiene, which is associated with improved oral health; and overall health and well-being.

“I use Damon Braces because the self-ligation feature eliminates the older elastic or steel ties, making them much easier to keep clean, more comfortable to wear and faster to adjust, which means less time spent in my office and more time to do whatever it is you really want to do,” Shults said. “I often recommend Clear Aligners or Invisalign as an esthetic alternative to braces. Both systems, Clear Aligners or Damon Braces, have their unique advantages and disadvantages.”

The team at Shults Orthodontics is ready and willing to help patients and/or their parents select the treatment that is best for each situation.

Shults is married to Rose Carbone, and they have three children. In his spare time, he enjoys biking, paddle boarding, yoga and more.

Shults is happy having his professional practice in Wellington.

“While I was initially attracted to Wellington for its schools and that small-town atmosphere, we love Wellington as a family-friendly community and the safe academic, sports and social programs available to help all our children grow, develop and excel as productive young adults and community members.”

Shults Orthodontics is located at 12180 South Shore Blvd., Suite 101, in Wellington. For more information, visit www.shultsorthodontics.com or call (561) 793-9888.

 

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A Playground For Dogs Wellington Dog Park Offers A Gathering Spot For Canine Residents And Their Human Companions

A Playground For Dogs Wellington Dog Park Offers A Gathering Spot For Canine Residents And Their Human Companions

By M. Dennis Taylor

With a strong focus on recreation, the Village of Wellington is home to many parks. Some parks are designed for organized sports, some for more passive activities. Most of them are designed for Wellington’s human residents. That is, except the Wellington Dog Park.

The Wellington Dog Park, located in Greenbriar Park at 2975 Greenbriar Blvd., near the intersection of Greenbriar Blvd. and Aero Club Drive, is a place where canine friends and their human companions come together for some much-needed recreation and socialization.

“Wellington has always recognized the importance of our dogs,” Parks & Recreation Director Eric Juckett explained. “Our facility is divided into three sizes for large dogs, medium dogs and small dogs.”

This division makes sure that little ones aren’t endangered by their rambunctious big cousins, who may outweigh them exponentially.

Since the facility opened more than 15 years ago, Dr. Marc Pinkwasser of the Courtyard Animal Hospital has been a key sponsor of the park, supporting both special events at the park and items needed for its general maintenance.

Juckett noted that Pinkwasser sponsors the pit crew items that allow visitors to pick up all of their pet’s waste materials. Failure to “scoop the poop” is strictly forbidden. In fact, the park’s community of users work hard to self-police this policy and others that make the whole concept work.

Pinkwasser tells patients of the importance of exercise for every stage of the dogs’ life and knows the value of getting out in an open space for that exercise. He practices what he preaches with his two golden retrievers named Ella “Fly Me to the Moon” Fitzgerald and Satchmo “High Society” Armstrong.

“Dr. Pinkwasser gives us a donation every year to help out,” Juckett said, adding that a team of dedicated maintenance staff cleans the facility daily to the highest premium condition residents would expect and utilizes regular pest control maintenance procedures. “We have a dedicated day each week on Thursdays when the park is closed in the morning until 3 p.m. to allow for a more extensive cleanup.”

While the park is not a fully staffed recreation location, Wellington crews keep a close eye on the facility.

“It is not supervised, but our staff checks in on the facility during the course of the day,” Juckett said.

Proud of the 6.5 acres reserved for canine residents, Juckett said the village receives many compliments from its users. Prime time for the Wellington Dog Park crowd is between 4 and 6 p.m. daily.

“That’s when people are getting home from work and when we have the largest number of people throughout the day,” he said.

Juckett added that the facility is popular with seasonal visitors. “Equestrian and polo season from October to April is when we get the most use,” he explained.

Open from dawn to dusk, for an early morning stretch of the legs to a final run at the end of the day, the facility requires visitors to follow current Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines and village protocols.

All three sections of the Wellington Dog Park feature a large fenced-in, off-leash area with pet wash and waste disposal stations located throughout the facility. There are water fountains for dogs and people, and restrooms for the pet’s parents are on site. In addition, there are walking paths and pavilions for shade. People accompanying a dog must have a hand leash with them and be at least 16 years old.

The rules are common sense and fair. Only dogs and people are allowed, no other animals and no personal items or toys are permitted to avoid jealousy. There is, of course, a risk any time a pet owner allows their dog to come into contact with another dog, and the village is not liable for any incidents, but aggressive or excessively barking dogs are not allowed, and any dog displaying aggressive behavior is required to be immediately removed.

Problematic incidents at the dog park are rare, and a trip to the Wellington Dog Park is sure to be your best friend’s favorite part of the day.

The Wellington Dog Park is part of the village’s award-winning recreation system that aims to make sure that Wellington’s recreation amenities are among the best available. Keeping them that way is a key component of Wellington’s recently approved comprehensive plan for recreational amenities for the next 10 to 20 years, which continues to put a heavy focus on high-quality park amenities.

That recreational blueprint addresses amenities for residents of all ages, in groups from children to seniors, and yes, also mentioning dogs of all shapes and sizes.

All dogs visiting the Wellington Dog Park must be legally licensed and vaccinated and wear a visible dog license. They must be at least four months of age, and female dogs in heat are not permitted. Other rules apply and can be found at www.wellingtonfl.gov.

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It Takes A Village Community Partners Step Up To Deliver 2,500 New Backpacks To Wellington Students

It Takes A Village Community Partners Step Up To Deliver 2,500 New Backpacks To Wellington Students

The old adage “it takes a village” took on a whole new meaning when a wide array of community organizations joined forces to meet the 2,500 backpack challenge set by the Village of Wellington’s Community Services Department.

The demand for backpacks filled with school supplies was up sharply over previous years. “We were amazed to hear that more than 2,400 Wellington students will be receiving either free or reduced-cost lunch this school year, but we were up to the challenge,” said Tom Wenham, chair of the Wellington Community Foundation. “I have to say that seeing everyone come together made it a really overwhelming success.”

The Wellington Community Foundation, now in its fifth year of working with the village to deliver new backpacks and school uniforms to Wellington students in need, received a call that this year the number of students that needed assistance had risen to 2,500. Would the foundation be up to the challenge? Without hesitation, the foundation’s board jumped into action.

Knowing this was a huge undertaking with little time to prepare, the board members knew it would take the entire community coming together to get the goal accomplished. Although the foundation’s donors showed up with generous support last year during the WCF’s Red, White & Blue Jeans virtual fundraiser, the nonprofit would have to rally more donations and support to bring the goal of 2,500 backpacks to fruition.

Several organizations joined WCF on this mission, including the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation, the Rotary Club of Wellington, Women of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, My Community Pharmacy, Premier Family Health, Prominence Health Plan, Baptist Health, the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center, Clinics Can Help and the Village of Wellington.

With the assistance of Wellington’s Michelle Garvey and Paulette Edwards, goals and event dates were set. The mission was to collect as many school supplies as needed to fill backpacks at the “backpack stuffing” event that took place Monday, July 19 at the Wellington Community Center. On Saturday, July 24, the village would host three separate block parties throughout Wellington. Backpacks filled with school supplies, school uniforms and other school-related items would be distributed to families that attend. The village invited families to a day of food, beverages and games to make it a fun-filled event.

Dozens of volunteers were welcomed as they stepped up to help fill the backpacks. Community Services Director Paulette Edwards said that the village was very thankful for all the supportive community partners.

“The past year’s COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us, and especially our youth. In support of our school-age youth in the community, the Village of Wellington’s Community Services Department provides a number of programs and activities designed particularly for our families most in need,” Edwards said. “Once again, we have partnered with our local nonprofits to provide back-to-school backpacks for those families hardest hit financially from the on-going pandemic. We look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces when they return back to the classroom carrying their new backpacks and supplies.”

Already on board was longtime supporter RoseAnn LaBella Voils, director of the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation.

“Five years ago, the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation partnered with the Village of Wellington, and we were the premier sponsor of the event. The event was held in the parking lot of New Horizons Elementary School,” she said. “Our foundation’s mission is to give back to the community through educational and athletic opportunities for children and young adults.”

Named in honor of LaBella Voils’ late son, the foundation is dedicated to making a difference in Wellington.

“We are a very small Wellington family organization,” she explained. “Our main fundraiser is our annual golf tournament, which raises money for our foundation. This event is very personal to our family. Christopher, my son, passed away in 2006. He grew up and attended schools in Wellington. We want to continue his legacy by giving back and helping as many children and young adults in the community as we can.”

LaBella Voils is proud to see how the village’s back-to-school event has grown. “We are amazed to see in five years how the event grew, with not just one but all the organizations coming together, and their donations helping so many children in the community,” she said.

The Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation looks forward to teaming up with the Village of Wellington again next year, and LaBella Voils hopes the planning for it gets underway much earlier. “I would like to be included in the planning stages for the event, which should start in April or May, and we should know the date of the event sooner. I was disappointed that with the generous donation that we contributed, we were not in town to assist on July 24,” she said.

The Wellington Rotary was also a key supporter of this year’s back-to-school event. Not only did club members donate thousands of dollars in school supplies, they filled backpacks and attended all three block parties.

One of the event’s biggest cheerleaders was Maggie Zeller, who is actively involved in a number of different nonprofits.

“Because of my involvement with the Rotary Club of Wellington, the Wellington Community Foundation and Back to Basics, I have become incredibly aware of the basic needs of so many children in our community,” Zeller said. “I have participated for the last few years at different back-to-school events, but this one will really reach the elementary school children right in our own neighborhoods, and the children who need school supplies, backpacks and uniforms will be provided for.”

Zeller is proud that the Wellington Rotary stepped up and purchased the needed school supplies. “The Rotarian motto ‘Service Above Self’ is evident by the response from Wellington Rotarians as volunteers from stuffing backpacks, organizing uniforms, collecting children’s books and being there at all three locations on the day of the event,” she said.

Wellington Rotary President Tom Carreras added that the backpack challenge falls well in line with the club’s mission.

“The Wellington Rotary Club raises money all year using various fundraisers for purposes like this, and we were happy that we could help,” Carreras said. “It brings all of our members joy knowing we have helped kids. We especially like to know any project we are involved with is successful, and we are happy this was, too.”

Longtime Wellington Community Foundation supporter Johnny Meier, owner of My Community Pharmacy, also stepped up to help out.

“I was asked to help, and I was honored to do so,” he said. “This is a necessary endeavor to invest in the next generation, so I didn’t hesitate to help where I could.”

With such short notice, it was difficult to jump from a need of 600 backpacks last year to 2,500 backpacks this year, but Meier didn’t hesitate. He contacted Premier Family Health, and the two businesses agreed to split the necessary donation.

“I believe the youth of our community are very important to the future of our village,” Meier said. “I know that sounds obvious, but I don’t think we do enough to foster our youth and give them the proper mentorship to be successful and productive. We need to first make sure they can succeed in the classroom. That’s what this effort helps to achieve.”

After the joy and excitement of knowing that every Wellington child needing the proper school items to succeed will get it, Meier noted that My Community Pharmacy would absolutely be on board for next year’s event.

Once Premier Family Health President Tony Nelson learned about the event, he wanted to become involved.

“Premier Family Health made a commitment years ago to serve within the community and give back, specifically to the youth, who we see as the future,” Nelson said. “Through this event, we are happy to support the local youth to make sure they have the supplies for their educational needs.”

Unlike the nonprofits, which raised donations through fundraisers, Premier Family Health donated the funds to the efforts of the Wellington Community Foundation and funded thousands of dollars in backpacks.

“It was a true privilege to be a part of this event that will have a positive impact on so many students to start school with the tools they need to have a successful school year,” Nelson said. “The realization that there remains a continuous need for support for the underserved and underprivileged youth in our community is the driving force behind our participation.”

Last year, the Wellington Community Foundation heard about the wonderful back-to-school effort organized by the Women of the Wellington Chamber and reached out to see if that organization wanted to join forces in helping with the 2,500 backpack challenge. WOW Chair Jennifer Hernandez said the group would be all in. WOW committed to filling 100 backpacks, and the group’s members went above and beyond.

“The Wellington Chamber, through the Women of Wellington, hosts an annual supply drive every year because we believe in our professional community coming together to support our village, residents and students,” Hernandez said. “We also believe in the power of collaboration, so combining the efforts of our supply drive with the Wellington Community Foundation initiative impacted our community in a very powerful way.”

Along with all the school supplies, each filled backpack received a large bottle of hand sanitizer, compliments of Clinics Can Help.

“Providing the necessary supplies and equipment to not only enhance the lives of children and adults, but to protect them, is what we do at Clinics Can Help,” CEO Owen O’Neill said. “We are honored to have been a part of the backpack project within the Wellington community. Our hope is that we play a role in reducing the spread of germs when children and staff return to school very soon.”

The Wellington Community Foundation is overwhelmed with the effort and support received for the 2,500 backpack challenge and looks forward to doing it again next school year for the community’s children, added WCF Board Member Dr. Gordon Johnson.

Wellington Village Manager Jim Barnes thanked all the community partners for making the backpack challenge a reality.

“To say that the last year and a half has been challenging may be understatement,” Barnes said. “Through it all, our community partners continue to outdo themselves with their generosity and support. We are grateful for the backpack challenge initiated by the Wellington Community Foundation, rallying other community partners for support and, in the process, making a difference for so many Wellington students.”

To learn about how you can become involved in making a difference in the Wellington community, visit www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org.

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Extraordinary Educators Four Teachers From Wellington School Honored With The Economic Council’s Newest Award

Extraordinary Educators Four Teachers From Wellington School Honored With The Economic Council’s Newest Award

They blazed trails, created a space where students could express their fears, built a sense of community and persevered despite personal heartbreak as they walked a unique tightrope between in-person learning and online classes.

They are the four Binks Forest Elementary School team members honored during this spring’s Extraordinary Educator Awards, sponsored by the Economic Council of Palm Beach County — teachers Emily MacMillan, Sally Mascia and Brandi Soto, and behavioral health professional Hope Jackson.

The awards were based on nominations and testimonials from parents. Among the county’s nearly 200 schools and more than 12,900 teachers, no other school had more than two honorees, according to the council’s Facebook page.

Of Soto, one parent reflected on the virus-driven wildfire of anxiety that scorched through the spring of 2020: “We have never felt so supported by a teacher. She made us feel stress-free during a time when everyone was switching from brick-and-mortar to online learning! … Thank you so much, dear Mrs. Soto, for the amazing, great teacher you are!”

Soto was very moved by her nomination, let alone winning the award.

“When I saw what some of the parents wrote about me, I cried,” said Soto, who grew up in Palm Beach County and has been teaching for 17 years. “Parent involvement is huge here.”

Soto, a Florida Atlantic University graduate, has been impressed by the Binks Forest faculty ever since arriving at the school eight years ago. “At Binks, going above and beyond is simply in our nature,” she said.

Such an attitude inspired the married mother of two to become a Trailblazer, a school district designation for a teacher who has volunteered for extra training in classroom technology. So, when classes for the district’s 169,000 students went online in March 2020, then returned in the fall in hybrid form — some students in class, some learning online — Soto was well equipped to handle the technical challenges and aid other teachers.

“That’s one thing about our school, teachers lift each other up and support each other,” said MacMillan, another local graduate who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FAU. She has been teaching at Binks Forest for 10 years.

Parents think MacMillan is special, too. One wrote: “Emily exemplified her extreme care during the pandemic… Her sincere love for teaching and her students makes learning exciting.”

MacMillan, a single mother with a 13-year-old son, said the biggest challenge for her over the last 18 months was not technical but emotional.

“I’m big on creating and fostering a classroom community,” she said. “So, the biggest thing was making sure my students felt connected to me and to each other with some of them in the classroom and some of them at home.”

Enthusiasm carrying her forward, MacMillan focused on the idea that everyone is persevering through the challenges together.

“I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, and that my students aren’t there just to learn enough to get through the third grade… These students will talk about this [pandemic experience] for the rest of their lives. They’ll say, ‘Remember the year when?’”

No doubt first-grade teacher Mascia will remember this school year vividly and with no small measure of melancholy, having faced the personal pain of losing her father in September, then her mother in January to COVID-19. Despite traveling to her native Ohio for the funerals, Mascia maintained contact with her students through the Internet.

A teacher at Binks Forest since 1999, Mascia let parents know about the personal losses she had suffered and allowed them to share, or not, with their children as they thought appropriate. “First-graders need consistency,” Mascia said. “I didn’t want the deaths to hamper my teaching.”

Throughout Mascia’s personally challenging year, parents, fellow teachers and the school administration led by Principal Michella Levy were there for her.

“They’re amazing,” said Mascia, a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland. “The teachers pull together and support each other, personally and professionally.”

Like several of the teachers, Mascia also gave credit to the school’s very active PTA organization.

In June, Mascia retired after teaching for 35 years in Florida schools. She’s looking forward to spending time with her first grandchild.

Reflecting on the last year and a half, Mascia said, “The children were troopers. They never complained… [But] it was a challenge making sure we reached the kids at home. I’m praying we reached them.”

Parents who wrote to the Economic Council to nominate Mascia are very sure about the calm, steady difference she made: “This past year has been quite different. It has been chaotic and unsettling at times. The pandemic has been plain nerve-racking and stressful, that is, until you reach the classroom door of Ms. Mascia.”

Through all the stress, chaos, uncertainty and fear generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson was there providing emotional outlets for students, information for parents and encouragement for fellow staff members and teachers. And parents noticed, one writing: “Ms. Jackson remained bright throughout this storm of darkness surrounding her students, peers and her family.”

Jackson said her goal was to create a safe space where students could “scream, shout, cry, throw a chair if they need to, then figure out how to deal with what they’re feeling,” she said. “There is no problem so big we can’t help them.”

Of course, providing that space for students still learning from home was a challenge. “I still tried to do it with extra attention, extra check-ins with parents and virtual students,” she said.

One of the keys was letting students act out scenarios of their choosing, she explained.

“Role playing lets the students verbalize about different situations… and learn about what sort of skills are needed to cope with them,” said Jackson, a Belle Glade native who earned degrees from Bethune-Cookman and Shaw universities.

Despite Jackson’s many normal work responsibilities and mothering a blended family of seven ranging in age from 7 to 25, she found the time to write a motivational e-mail each Friday for faculty and staff, underscoring the fact that at Binks Forest, “we’re a team.”

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Building For The Future Elbridge Gale Students Excel At Robotics Program With Appearance At International Invitational

Building For The Future Elbridge Gale Students Excel At Robotics Program With Appearance At International Invitational

By Deborah Welky

Small, plastic Lego bricks are ubiquitous in most homes with school-age children. The bricks are a staple of creativity for children and adults alike, evolving into much more than a toy. In fact, they are also a key component of a robotics program that teaches students STEM skills like engineering and technology.

Four years ago, Wellington’s Elbridge Gale Elementary School created a Lego Robotics team, which was an instant hit with students. It is currently operated by teachers Tara Dicurcio and Nicole Crane.

“I wanted to coach because I’m interested in robotics myself. I wanted to learn along with the kids,” Dicurcio said.

“The season typically starts in August with competitions running from February through March,” Crane added. “Last year, that was extended while everyone figured out the logistics of competing virtually.”

The teachers’ dedication propelled the school’s 2020-21 team to new heights, which included an invitation to participate in the FIRST Lego League Virtual Open International, headquartered in Greece.

The “Gator Bots” team was comprised of Corben Dicurcio, Skyler Peterson, Cristopher Martin-Aguirre, Yashasvi Rajpurohit, Colbie Phillips, Chris Powell, Oliver Parreco and Ariana Porterfield. They entered the qualifier, participating with students from Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties in an effort to receive an award and advance to regionals.

Advance, they did. The regional competition heated up with new participants from as far away as Key West and, when the dust settled, Elbridge Gale’s Gator Bots were selected by judges as one of seven Florida teams to represent the United States in Greece. They were one of just 59 teams invited from throughout the U.S., and one of only 200 selected from a worldwide pool of 350,000 competitors.

Of course, last year, no one was physically going to Greece.

“As any educator would say, it was challenging to stay engaged across multiple platforms — with some students working from home and some not,” Crane said. “It was difficult to coordinate but, at the end of the day, the pandemic may have actually worked in our favor. There are six core values that the students work on developing as part of the competition, and two of those are inclusion and teamwork. Restrictions imposed due to the pandemic helped the students to develop that core set as the season went on.”

In addition to making sure all in-person and virtual teammates felt included, the students had to wear masks, so it was difficult to understand each other at times. They also had to stay six feet apart — especially challenging when collaborating and building with tiny bricks. Wearing gloves and repeatedly sanitizing everything they touched slowed things down a bit, too.

Their coaches were there for guidance only. “It shouldn’t be me doing the project,” Dicurcio said. “Our motto around here is ‘Kid Done, Kid Fun.’ For instance, if they needed a new coding system to help put everything together, I could research a fantastic tutorial set, pull those lessons and show them step-by-step, but they’d have to figure out how to apply it. If they wanted to add a line-follower to their build, I could show them how to develop it, but they’re the ones who have to decide how to apply that knowledge to the robot.”

Sounds seamless, right?

Not always. The team experienced several setbacks along their path to glory, not the least of which was having their computer crash the day before the qualifier round. They lost all their content and had to learn the skills necessary to develop their app and rebuild in time to compete the next day. The silver lining? They received the Break-Through Award, given to the team that “faces a challenge and continues pressing forward.”

Setbacks are a part of life, and these Wellington students are now better prepared to deal with them.

“Creativity and problem-solving are two of the strongest components of the program,” Crane said. “It’s not just building and engineering skill sets; there’s a lot of technology, a lot of research. Each year, the students are learning things that I facilitate but, very often, the students know the coding and programs and vocabulary better than I do. And, if they don’t know it, they learn it faster than I can.”

In 2020-21, the robotics league program assigned a timely challenge that would require competitors to develop a solution to an existing problem — retaining health and fitness during a pandemic.

“It was a pretty good topic,” Crane said. “How do people exercise when they’re afraid to go outside? How do you incorporate space with social-distancing recess options? How can students even do PE in a distance-learning situation? The team had to find ways, so they created a survey, got the survey out there and collected data to see which direction they should go in when solving their problem. They got a crash course in learning some different strategies to do that, and watching them do their exercise was fun. It was pretty cute.”

The teachers know they are preparing their students not only for jobs but for life.

“The six core values are the guiding force for Lego Robotics — discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun,” Crane said. “Teams are judged on their use of teamwork — that their project was done together, not individually. They are taught respect and embracing differences and not leaving anyone out. They do coding, programming and public speaking. Ultimately, they built a virtual fitness trail to help people remain active during COVID-19.”

Along the way, they learned skills and had unique experiences that will be able to take with them no matter where they end up heading in life.

Visit www.firstlegoleague.org to learn more about the FIRST Lego League program.

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Wellington’s Young Black Leaders Wellington High School Creates BLAST, A New Course In Black Leadership

Wellington’s Young Black Leaders Wellington High School Creates BLAST,  A New Course In Black Leadership

By Margaret Hunt

With an aim to help build the future base of tomorrow’s Black leaders, Wellington High School has created an innovative course known as BLAST, which stands for the Black Leadership & Achievement Student Team.

When AICE math teacher Nancy Toussaint and student McKenzie Henry, then a senior, realized that Black students were under-represented in Wellington High School’s leadership programs, they both wanted to make the school more inclusive. They needed a team, but there was a problem — they had no clue that one another existed.

However, when Mike Kozlowski, a school administrator with a similar vision, approached Toussaint about meeting Henry, it led to the creation of a class for underserved Black students.

In January 2020, at the next faculty meeting, WHS Principal Cara Hayden gave her support to adding a leadership class for Black students at the school. She noted that the previous schools that she worked in all had courses designed for Black students, but when she became principal at Wellington High School, there were none. She wanted the school to be a place where minority students could thrive as well.

A follow-up faculty meeting occurred via Zoom near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toussaint invited Henry to attend. She wanted a student to be involved in the discussion about creating a Black leadership class.

During the meeting, the late Assistant Principal Henry Paulk created the name for the proposed class after pondering it some time. He came up with the acronym BLAST and suggested that Toussaint have an interview process for prospective students.

Toussaint eventually carried out the interviews in August 2020, when BLAST officially became a class at WHS. She worked with faculty members Audra Davis, Oscar Robinson, Suzanne Nichols and Danielle Fairclough to create an application form that the students would fill out before being approved to participate in the program.

From there, Toussaint and Henry met on Google Meet to discuss creating a commercial for the class. Henry filmed a promotional video that would later be played for the BLAST students. She used word-of-mouth to get her fellow classmates interested in joining the program, garnering the first eight students. Fairclough, a guidance counselor, located more Black students that she would e-mail the application to. The class started out with 16 founding students, but it will expand to approximately 24 students during the 2021-22 school year.

BLAST is currently offered as an honors elective at Wellington High School, available for students in grades 11 and 12. Its mission is to, “Empower Black students to create a positive mindset, achieve academic success and develop leadership skills.”

Toussaint’s vision for the class was for students to serve in a similar capacity as the Student Government Association. One of her primary goals was for the class to be student-led. Before he passed away in October 2020, Paulk’s goal was for BLAST to increase the students’ communication skills and to improve their group dynamics. It is safe to say that in its first year, the class accomplished that.

“BLAST has created a safe place for me and my friends to talk about anything,” WHS graduate Melik Frederick said. “We motivated each other every day and learned a lot from each other. Being the first year of this class, we got a lot done. Special thanks to Ms. Toussaint.”

During the 2020-21 school year, following through with her student leadership goal, Toussaint allowed the students to give their input on what they would like to be taught. BLAST students learned different leadership styles, goal setting, active listening skills, financial literacy and more. Henry was chosen to serve as president, and the seniors delegated class-officer positions among themselves. They formed groups named after tribes from different African regions and made projects about topics such as African American historical figures.

The most notable part of the class was “Free Talk Friday,” where students had an environment to discuss their opinions on current events and talk about their lives. It was from this time set aside every week that the students in the class realized that the things they had to say mattered.

“BLAST was an amazing experience and by far the best class I took at Wellington High School,” recent graduate Hermione Williams said. “It was a class where I could comfortably express how I felt about national events and learn more about my history. With the help of Ms. Toussaint, we learned that despite the stereotypes set upon us Black people by society, we all have the potential to create a path for excellence. We were more than just peers and a teacher — we were family.”

With the help of the Village of Wellington, the BLAST students were able to use their newly found voices to make an impact on their community through a series of videos that they made during Black History Month to celebrate their heritage and to speak up about topics that they were passionate about. These videos included, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” “Racism,” “We Still Have Dreams” and “Black Inventors.” They were played during school and were shared throughout Wellington.

Because of their videos, six BLAST students were able to participate in the Village of Wellington’s SWAG program, which stands for Students Working to Achieve Greatness. Through this program, the students received summer internships at varying locations, along with tools to become successful in the workforce, such as interviewing pointers, financial literacy, attire and more. They met with and got advice from accomplished Black people in the community and got the opportunity to network with community leaders.

BLAST’s meetings with community organizations and school leadership classes such as the Urban League, SWAG, the Student Government Association and Latinos In Action have played a crucial role in spreading the word about the new program. So much so, that School Board Member Marcia Andrews, and Brian Knowles, manager of the Office of African, African American, Latino, Holocaust and Gender Studies for the school district, met with BLAST to discuss the expansion of the class to other schools across the county. Andrews was receptive to the proposal, and the likelihood of BLAST’s expansion is favorable.

Along with expanding the class, BLAST has internal goals for Wellington High School. The group hopes to implement programs that will help the students, such as Big Brother/Big Sister-style mentoring, conflict mediation, and dealing with student complaints and concerns. BLAST members have talked with the school’s administration about the integration of these programs and have concluded that they will take time and training to fully implement.

However, the program has shown that there are many faculty members in support of minority students in the school. In the future, BLAST aims to collaborate with other classes, clubs and student groups to make sure that every student is represented within the school’s leadership.

 

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A Breakthrough In Imaging Next Generation MRI Brings State-Of-The-Art Technology To Palm Beach County Residents

A Breakthrough In Imaging  Next Generation MRI Brings State-Of-The-Art Technology To Palm Beach County Residents

Story by Mike May | Photos by Callie Sharkey

Newly opened Next Generation MRI brings the most unique and highly advanced MRI ever developed to central Palm Beach County.

The Esaote G-scan Brio is the only one of its kind in Palm Beach County and one of only nine in the State of Florida. Nationwide, there are less than 100 of them currently in use. Next Generation MRI’s equipment is not your regular, conventional MRI. The firm’s technology is current, state-of-the-art and imported from Genoa, Italy.

“We have the most unique and highly advanced MRI ever developed,” said Next Generation MRI founder Joe Nasuti, whose professional background includes more than 35 years in the imaging industry. “It’s a combination of Italian engineering and space-age technology resulting in unheard-of capabilities no other MRI can perform.”

This includes 90-degree rotation for full natural body weight bearing stand-up scans and center-line scanning for every body part, flex and extension, motion studies, and 3D images. “We will go boldly where no MRI has gone before!” Nasuti said.

Next Generation MRI opened July 1 and is located across the street from the Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach. According to Nasuti, the services provided by Next Generation MRI outperform other local competitors and are focused on providing patients with quick and accurate answers to medical questions.

To add to the overall MRI experience, Next Generation has added an MRI Café to its offices, where clients can rest, unwind and prepare for the MRI by having a cup of coffee. The goal is to create a low-key, relaxed atmosphere for the client prior to the MRI experience.

To add to the space-age technology aspect of Next Generation MRI’s services, when you are in one of its two MRI rooms, you can look up and see a picture of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, on the ceiling. It’s alright to lay there and say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”

Next Generation MRI has two MRI bays and will only schedule eight to 10 MRIs a day on each machine. This makes sure that no client will ever be rushed through an MRI procedure.

To get access to Next Generation MRI, you must be referred by a medical professional, such as a chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon, podiatrist or neurosurgeon.

“We are specializing in patients who need an MRI due to an auto accident, workman’s comp claim, a personal injury incident, or a slip and fall accident,” Nasuti explained.

The big key to Next Generation MRI’s services is that Nasuti and his team can perform a vertical MRI, where you are standing up, in addition to an MRI where you are laying on your back.

“With the vertical MRI, we can see your pain better than anyone else,” Nasuti said. “That converts to a more accurate diagnosis and better treatment.”

According to Heather Garland, chief MRI tech for Next Generation MRI, the G-Scan Brio technology in each MRI machine is the world’s first MRI specifically developed to perform more accurate musculoskeletal examinations. The two MRI machines inside Next Generation’s offices are also the world’s only 100 percent natural weight-bearing, stand-up MRI machines. Of great importance to many potential clients is the fact that Next Generation MRI has the least-claustrophobic MRI on the market.

According to Nasuti, the G-Scan Brio reveals what supine MRIs can miss.

“A conventional MRI may not demonstrate the pathology related to these symptoms, but G-Scan Brio gives you a new point of view, so you can accurately diagnose musculoskeletal pathologies affected by a weight-bearing position,” Nasuti said.

The G-Scan Brio also provides more detail, better accuracy and greater confidence.

“The G-Scan Brio is superior to other MRIs because both the magnet and patient can rotate from 0 to 90 degrees,” Garland explained. “Our technology has eliminated the need for many exploratory surgeries.”

Simply put, the G-Scan Brio adds weight to your diagnosis.

“The G-Scan Brio offers a revolutionary MRI approach that increases diagnostic accuracy and confidence for musculoskeletal applications,” Nasuti said.

Once the MRI is complete, it’s sent electronically to Dr. Bruce Rodan, one of the most respected, board-certified radiologists in the industry.

“His preliminary report will be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes, which is another industry first,” Nasuti said.

One of Next Generation MRI’s clients is West Palm Beach-based chiropractor Dr. Thomas Rupolo. He’s a big believer in what Next Generation MRI has to offer. “This is the latest and greatest MRI technology on the market,” Rupolo said. “It’s not a claustrophobic experience, and it provides a superior diagnosis.”

Rupolo will be referring all of his patients who need an MRI to Next Generation MRI.

To give you more peace of mind when you visit, Next Generation MRI has installed three bipolar ionization air purification systems that eliminate bacteria and viruses from the air. It’s the same system used by major airlines.

Next Generation MRI is located at 1700 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Suite 150, in West Palm Beach. For more information, call (561) WPB-1700 (561-972-1700) or visit www.nexgenmri.com.

 

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Taste Of The Caribbean Take A Culinary Journey To The Islands With A Visit To Jamaica House Grill In Wellington

Taste Of The Caribbean Take A Culinary Journey To The Islands With A Visit To Jamaica House Grill In Wellington

Story and Photos by Callie Sharkey

When the island-nation of Jamaica was in its infancy, the government decided to build an official residence for the prime minister, known as Jamaica House. To immerse yourself in the culture and food of this unique Caribbean island, pay a visit to the iconic building’s local namesake, Jamaica House Grill in Wellington.

Guests are greeted by reggae fusion music and portraits of Jamaican icons like Marcus Garvey and Usain Bolt. A cheerful rack of wines and an open floorplan greet visitors and continue to build the Jamaican setting.

There is no coincidence that Jamaican native and Executive Chef Collin Allen landed at Jamaica House Grill, often called JHG.

“I’ve worked at Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, but for me, Jamaica House is the office of the prime minister, and I’m devoted to that,” said Allen, who served as the personal chef to Jamaica’s first female prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller.

He visited the restaurant when down in Florida on vacation.

“I saw the restaurant’s menu and said this is where I belong,” Allen recalled. “This is where I want to be — to take guests on a culinary journey of what it is to really have authentic Jamaican cuisine.”

Despite having cooked for celebrities like Harrison Ford, Ralph Lauren and Naomi Campbell, Allen finds joy in bringing his heritage to plate for everyone who visits Jamaica House Grill.

Jerk spices are a cornerstone of Jamaican food, and chicken wings are one of the best ways to showcase the different levels of spice available. From the tangy Mango Tree Wings to the bold Sorrel Jerk Wings, there is a flavor profile for every palate.

One of the most popular dishes at Jamaica House Grill is the Braised Oxtails. This rich and savory dish is served with seasonal vegetables, rice and peas. It is a direct inspiration from the Spanish heritage of the island.

Manager Steve Dillon pointed out several of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.

“Most people like the oxtail, curried goat and our fish. It’s a variety of dishes that I grew up eating every day,” said Dillon, who hails from New York but has been with Jamaica House Grill from the beginning. “I get to come here and have the best Jamaican dishes all in one spot.”

Since opening its doors in November 2019, the restaurant has been a dedicated source of authentic Jamaican flavors and traditional cuisine. The menu also contains American-style food such as burgers or mac and cheese alongside Jamaican staples like Curried Goat. Vegetarians also have a variety of options, such as the Coconut Curry Tofu, the Country Man Salad and the Jamaican classic Ital Bean Stew.

For the food extraordinaire Allen, every plate is important.

“At Jamaica House, we pay attention to the details and provide personalized service. So, when you come here, we will do the food according to how you like it to be done. Our jerk is spicy because it is authentic Jamaican food that we have inherited over the years. Our curry comes from India and China. We inherit the Ital from the Rastafarian culture,” said Allen, who is also fascinated by the history of the food. “Being spicy is a form of preserving food in the old days. Americans would use smoke, but we use herbs as a preservative. Our food gets better over time because of the rum and all the spices.”

But Allen doesn’t want the fear of trying intense jerk spices to concern patrons. “You tell us what you want. Don’t be afraid to come in, because everybody will get what they like. Jamaican food is spicy, but we can bring down the heat,” he said.

The Grilled Salmon is a must-try for any fish lover. The medium-well fillet is served in a sweet chili sauce encasing cherry tomatoes, diced bell peppers and onions. On the side is asparagus cooked in a delicate parsley butter, and the signature side of mashed sweet potatoes balances the sweet chili sauce.

For dessert, embrace the rich aromas of the Jamaica House Signature Bread Pudding with rum sauce. The plate arrives wrapped in the soft blue flames of the burning Jamaican rum.

The past year has been rough on many industries, particularly restaurants, but Jamaica House Grill has persevered and kept the focus on serving great food and keeping patrons happy.

“Back in New York, so many of the restaurants I grew up eating at are closed now,” said Dillon, who is optimistic about the future. “Jamaica House Grill made it through that, and we are still going. I believe that says something about the food and about us.”

Part of that future includes eventually expanding the restaurant’s hours and opening for breakfast service. Allen is excited to bring a Jamaican twist to traditional American breakfast items.

Jamaica House Grill is located at 2557 S. State Road 7 in Wellington, in the plaza with Whole Foods Market. The restaurant currently serves lunch and dinner seven days a week. For more information, call (561) 619-9074 or visit www.jamaicahousegrills.com.

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Spacious And Updated This Stunning Home In Wellington’s Greenview Shores Community Includes More Than 2,000 Square Feet

Spacious And Updated This Stunning Home In Wellington’s Greenview Shores Community Includes More Than 2,000 Square Feet 

Our featured property this month is a stunningly updated and spacious home in Wellington’s Greenview Shores community. The three-bedroom, two-bath pool home is fully fenced in a highly desirable area with no HOA, just a short ride to the showgrounds. The home features more than 2,000 square feet of living space, and cathedral ceilings add to the grandeur. New porcelain wood plank tile flooring continues throughout the living areas, along with new six-inch baseboards. A large living and dining area greets guests upon entry. The split bedroom plan features a large master bedroom with tray ceilings and a double-door entry. The en suite bath includes dual sinks, a large soaker tub and a separate shower. The master suite includes a walk-in closet and double French doors out to lanai. The kitchen is beautifully upgraded with white raised panel cabinetry, unique granite countertops and a marble tile backsplash with newer appliances.

Front Elevation: This spacious home in Wellington’s Greenview Shores neighborhood is updated with great curb appeal, including a double-door entry and a two-car garage.

Kitchen: The updated kitchen is open to the family room, allowing for nice sight lines and easy entertaining. There is plenty of counter space, along with white cabinetry, newer appliances, unique granite countertops and a marble backsplash that are stylish and on trend.

Family Room: Cathedral ceilings add to the drama of the generously sized living areas. Natural light pours in, and you can enjoy pool views from almost every window and door.

Foyer: This welcoming foyer greets guests with an impact, etched-glass, double-door entry. Easy single-level living makes everyday entertaining a breeze, while new luxury flooring continues throughout the living areas.

Pool: Paradise awaits outdoors! Enjoy the private, oversized pool with a built-in table for your tropical drink. The yard is fully fenced for privacy and safety. The lot is a generous quarter-acre and includes a shed.

Greenview Shores Property Presented By Lindsey Taylor

Meet Lindsey Taylor

Lindsey Taylor is a Realtor with Re/Max Direct, based in Wellington with satellite offices in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. She is a residential real estate veteran and represents an average of 70 families per year wishing to buy, sell or rent property.

Taylor has a long record of consistently selling homes faster and for record sales prices. She closes residential sales and lease transactions valued at more than $20 million every year, and these results have led her to earning Re/Max’s distinctive Chairman’s Club and Platinum Club awards year after year. She is consistently ranking in Re/Max’s Florida Top 100 and Real Trends America’s Best Top 1.5% of real estate agents nationally.

Taylor attributes her success in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace to her attention to detail, negotiating strength and unique “active-focused” marketing plan.

A Wellington resident since childhood, Taylor graduated from Wellington High School in 1995 and has experienced firsthand why so many people want to call Wellington home. She is now raising her own three children, together with her husband Greg, in Wellington.

Learn more about Lindsey Taylor at
https://direct-wellington-fl.remax.com

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WELLINGTON’S WINNING MOVES The Village Has Taken Home Its Third Let’s Move Championship From The Palm Health Foundation

WELLINGTON’S WINNING MOVES
The Village Has Taken Home Its Third Let’s Move
Championship From The Palm Health Foundation

By Melanie Otero

Not even a global pandemic could stop Wellington residents from winning their third Let’s Move challenge, besting 378 teams from across Palm Beach County in the highly competitive countywide competition by logging an impressive 26 million minutes of physical activity during March 2021.

Presented by the Palm Health Foundation and Digital Vibez Inc., Let’s Move invites residents to form teams and commit to exercising at least 30 minutes a day during the month of March. The highly competitive campaign has teams from municipalities, county organizations and other groups all vying for top prizes, which were awarded at a ceremony on April 16.

Hosted by the KVJ Show’s Virginia Sinicki at a live presentation at the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium, the Village of Wellington was named the winning 2021 Let’s Move team with the highest number of physical activity minutes. Wellington residents logged more than 40 percent of the total 59,472,053 minutes logged for the entire county — a record for the highest number of physical activity minutes in Let’s Move’s nine-year history.

Wellington is no stranger to winning Let’s Move, taking home the championship title in 2018 and 2019. What’s even more remarkable is that the number of minutes in 2021 were more than twice the number of minutes logged in either of the previous years.

“It took the whole community to win the award,” said Michelle Garvey, the village’s assistant director of community services. “To have so many people come together shows how important our residents believe it is to have a healthy community. We really appreciate them.”

Building a culture of health was exactly the idea behind Let’s Move when it was first launched in 2012 by the Palm Health Foundation, Palm Beach County’s leading community foundation for issues relating to health. Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2010 Let’s Move national program to decrease childhood obesity, the foundation created the local challenge for adults and children to improve a variety of health issues through regular physical activity. The challenge promotes daily exercise as a way to combat illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and strengthen brain health and life expectancy, among other benefits.

“Let’s Move is about taking charge of our health as a community by integrating physical activity, nutrition and healthy behaviors into our daily lives, and having fun while doing it,” said Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of the Palm Health Foundation.

“This is the campaign’s ninth year, and we could not be prouder of the amazing results,” added Wilford Romelus, founder of Digital Vibez. “This past year was full of unexpected challenges for everyone, but we came back stronger than ever.”

With the pandemic limiting in-person events, Garvey and her team under the direction of Community Services Director Paulette Edwards had to get creative to get — and keep — people motivated. The village’s instructors offered free classes, including aerobics, Zumba and dance classes through Zoom, giving everyone the ability to participate, from Wellington’s own 300 employees to seniors and youth.

Community organizations and businesses from sports teams to private schools to LA Fitness joined in to rally members and contribute. For kids, the village partnered with the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington to introduce new activities like Frisbee and teach football and soccer. A huge March Madness basketball competition brought kids out to the courts, and a dance club brought to the Wellington Amphitheater by Digital Vibez kept kids moving to the latest beat.

To get as many young residents as possible participating in Let’s Move, Garvey’s team knew they couldn’t just wait for the kids to come to them. They needed to take fun activities out into the neighborhoods. Program coordinators Ian Williams and Gus Ponce were just the guys to do it through their “Super Fridays” program.

Super Fridays began about three years ago as a way for Wellington to connect with youth by bringing activities to kids in their own neighborhoods.

“When Ian and Gus show up, it’s time to come out of the house, put the electronics down and have fun,” Garvey said.

For Let’s Move, it was a way to be sure all kids had access to the campaign and to continue opening doors to create relationships.

This lets them understand youth needs that the village could fulfill, such as tutoring, mentorships and scholarships to participate in programming.

“We make an impact on the kids, and the kids make an impact on us,” Williams said. “Some of the youth we reach are caring for younger siblings and just need to know we’re there for them. That’s what it’s all about, giving them something to look forward to every day.”

Another way the village cares for the community contributed to the Let’s Move championship. Every Tuesday during the month of March, 25 volunteers gathered at the Mall at Wellington Green to give away food to those in need, working with Feeding South Florida. The activity required quite a bit of physical activity, with volunteers running bags of groceries to more than 800 cars for the food distribution drive-through each week. “Between athletic programs and community service, we try our best to deliver on our health and wellness goals for village residents,” Garvey said.

Giving the credit to residents for bringing home the Let’s Move trophy, Williams added, “We really want to thank the community for being so willing.”

The 2021 Let’s Move campaign was sponsored by the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center, Valley Bank, Wisehaupt, Bray Asset Management and the Quantum Foundation. For more info., visit www.letsmovepbc.org.

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