Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Newly Completed Promenade Transforms Village’s Lake Wellington Waterfront Town Center

Newly Completed Promenade Transforms  Village’s Lake Wellington Waterfront
Town Center

Have you taken a stroll along the new Wellington Town Center Promenade? If not, head on over to the Wellington Community Center and look behind the building for the newly renovated and expanded Lake Wellington waterfront.

Once bordered by weeds and rushes, Lake Wellington now features a lit, paved walkway that runs the length of the shore from behind the great lawn near the Wellington Community Center to the Lake Wellington Professional Centre.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the view — it’s still stunning, especially at sunset.

The concept of a “town center,” a place of gathering for all of Wellington’s residents, has been a key consideration in long-term strategic planning for most of the past decade. In August 2017, the Wellington Village Council first began discussing “activating the waterfront,” specifically referring to the lakefront area behind the community center. The council approved the final promenade design in May 2019.

Work on this highly anticipated project started in October 2019 with the construction of an 800-foot retaining wall. Once the retaining wall was complete, it was time for the 20-foot paver promenade, as well as concrete posts and railings along the water’s edge.

Special lighting for the columns, along with light poles, benches, trash bins and water fountains followed. The dog-friendly promenade runs the length of the 800-foot retaining wall ranging from 20 to 30 feet in width.

The lake’s existing gazebo and dock were incorporated into the plan, and the entire project was completed in July 2020, although additional docks for boaters may be added later, pending a U.S. Department of the Interior Land & Water Conservation Fund grant.

Once the grant is finalized as hoped, fabrication and installation of the additional docks could be completed by late October.

“What we’ve created here is a place for families, children and seniors to come together and enjoy all the great things that our village has to offer. When we think of Wellington, we think parks and green spaces,” Mayor Anne Gerwig said. “With the completion of this new promenade, we’ve added a new feature to our community’s list of highlights — an inviting way to take advantage of this beautiful waterfront.”

The area has already become a getaway spot for joggers, families and people just seeking a quiet place for reflection.

“This boardwalk and the Town Center project concept, as a whole, reinforces our commitment to enhancing the quality of life that makes Wellington a great place to live and raise a family,” Vice Mayor Tanya Siskind explained.

The next addition to the lakefront will be a children’s playground, to be located near the promenade just north of the existing pavilion. With funding provided through another grant, the site plan and engineering design contract for this Phase 2 edition came before the Wellington Village Council last month with other possible concepts, including expansion of the nearby Wellington Amphitheater grounds and Scott’s Place playground.

“As a Wellington resident and a father, I am excited for the future of the village’s Town Center,” Councilman Michael Drahos said. “The new playground and boat docks will cater to residents of all ages and will provide additional opportunities for recreation and leisure activities on the waterfront.”

Further additions to the Town Center area, which also includes the Wellington Municipal Complex, the Patriot Memorial and the Wellington Aquatics Complex, are expected in the years to come.

“This is just the beginning for our Town Center,” Councilman John McGovern said. “Years from now, when Lake Wellington becomes our village’s go-to spot for events and gatherings, we will look back at our promenade project and be thankful for the forethought and planning that made it all possible. I commend village staff and my fellow council members for their dedication to preserving and enhancing our Lake Wellington waterfront.”

A summer of activities had been planned to unveil this new gem to the Wellington community. Due to the pandemic, those plans are temporarily on hold and a “virtual grand opening” was held instead.

Nevertheless, this new amenity is destined to become a future gathering spot for green markets, festivals and more.

“We’ve often used the phrase ‘a place of gathering’ when discussing this project,” Councilman Michael Napoleone said. “Well, that is exactly what we’ve built here. A place where we can bring our children to play and explore, a place where our seniors can take a sunset stroll and a place that will serve as a backdrop for creating memories for years to come.”

Facebookpinterestmail

Boating Has Become A COVID-19 Coping Mechanism For Many In The Community Lake Wellington

Boating Has Become A COVID-19 Coping Mechanism For Many In The Community Lake Wellington

The lives of Wellington residents — as well as people all around the world — have been restricted and adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The global virus-driven restrictions have had negative ramifications — financially, physically, mentally and emotionally.

To cope with the downsides of the lockdown, people have resorted to watching more television, reading more books, doing more gardening, baking and engaging in more exercise. But some local residents are spending more time on Lake Wellington as a way to mentally cope with the lockdown.

For that very reason, Lake Wellington may well be the best-kept secret and coping mechanism in the community.

The appeal, allure and attraction of lakefront living in the heart of Wellington is one of the main reasons why many people choose to live in this community. While Wellington is well known for its many parks, ball fields, green space, horse trails and spacious sidewalks, which are appealing to walkers, runners, skaters, riders and bicyclists, one of the most underutilized recreational options in Wellington is its aquatic centerpiece — Lake Wellington. And the fact that there’s free and easy access to the lake should make it even more enticing.

Yet many people don’t use it, think about it or even know about it. But, then again, there are also many Wellington residents who can’t imagine life without access to this man-made body of water that is actually bigger and wider than most people realize, until they are in the middle of the lake in a pontoon boat, sailboat, kayak, rowing skull or paddle board.

One of the appealing aspects of Lake Wellington is that gasoline-powered engines are not allowed on the water — only battery-powered motors and, of course, human-powered boats.

Wellington residents who live in the area consider access to Lake Wellington as an extension of their back patio and an integral part of their daily lives, 12 months a year. And when everybody is in their own boat, it’s easy to practice social distancing.

“It’s very calm and peaceful on the lake,” said longtime resident Joetta Palumbo, who grew up in West Virginia. “There’s nothing like morning coffee on the lake during the weekends, and I’ve always loved the sun. This is the life. It’s good, clean fun. Boats bring me so much joy.”

For others, Lake Wellington is a haven of tranquility and a safe refuge, a necessity during the pandemic.

“It’s so peaceful on the lake, and I enjoy meeting up with friends while out on the water,” said Jennifer Davis, a native of Long Island.

“It’s our happy place,” agreed Alicia Maggio, who grew up living along New York’s Hudson River.

“It’s so relaxing to be on Lake Wellington,” added Pam Pazzaglia, whose childhood home was Buffalo, N.Y.

On many occasions, usually in the early evening, Palumbo, Davis, Maggio and Pazzaglia will cruise around the lake in a convoy while sharing thoughts on their lives or their days at work.

In fact, earlier this summer, the four of them decided to mix time on the lake with a meal. They actually had a cookout in the middle of the lake on two of their boats, which were tied to one another and then anchored. A good time was had by all.

“We had hot dogs, shrimp, coleslaw, potato salad, potato chips and all the fixin’s for the hot dogs,” Palumbo said. “We had a few drinks, too.”

Fellow Wellington resident Myrna Delguercio spends her time on the water while navigating a kayak, which allows her to reap mental and physical dividends. When she paddles her kayak, she gets exercise and some much-needed peace of mind, which have helped her manage the mental and emotional hurdles that have impacted her life during the age of the pandemic.

“Kayaking is relaxing. It eliminates stress and allows me to get away from it all,” Delguercio said.

Gary Swedenborg owns and operates one of the bigger pontoon boats on the lake. He’s a regular on Lake Wellington and has been for the last 15 years. He didn’t let the lockdown negatively impact his boating time on the lake.

“I try to get out on the lake about three or four times a week,” said Swedenborg, who also enjoys spotting wildlife on the lake. “I see Muscovy ducks, otters, bald eagles, ospreys and blue herons. I also see squirrels along the banks.”

When he’s in the mood, Swedenborg will grab his fishing pole and attempt to catch and release any of the fish that live in the lake, such as bass, oscar, carp and clown knifefish.

Swedenborg also likes the economic benefits of boating on Lake Wellington.

“At the end of every trip, you don’t have to fill up, just plug in,” he explained.

Having access to an aquatic way of life along Lake Wellington may be one of the village’s best-kept secrets and has emerged as a great way to cope with the negative ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebookpinterestmail

Wellington Honors PBSO Deputy Scott Poritz And PBC Fire-Rescue Capt. Craig Dube First Responders

Wellington Honors PBSO Deputy Scott Poritz And PBC Fire-Rescue Capt. Craig Dube
First Responders

Among the many standout professionals who work as local first responders, the Village of Wellington annually honors the best of the best when it presents its “Top Cop” and “Top Firefighter” award.

When Wellington’s Public Safety Committee discussed the naming of this year’s award recipients, the consensus was about how hard the decision is every year because there are such good candidates nominated by officials from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue.

This year, the honor for Top Cop went to PBSO Deputy Scott Poritz, while PBCFR Capt. Craig Dube was named Top Firefighter.

Nominated by PBSO Sgt. Andrew Porath, Poritz has been in law enforcement for 18-and-a-half years, the last 14 in Wellington.

“Poritz has become an integral part of the successful programs implemented throughout Wellington,” said Porath, who cited several programs that Poritz has started that benefit residents.

“He helped create the annual Child Safety Experience and continues to coordinate it.” said Porath, explaining that Poritz partnered with Wellington Parks & Recreation along with PBCFR and helped with fundraising to ensure that the event was free to the community. “The event has vendor booths and educational information associated with child development. The event also has an area where kids can experience the different PBSO and PBCFR vehicles. There’s also free [bicycle] helmet fitting and giveaway, along with a child car seat install station.”

Poritz also goes out of his way to help Wellington residents in need, such as aiding an elderly couple age in place when too much stuff in their garage prevented repairs to the ceiling and electrical system. He organized the removal, storage and return of the items.

Poritz also coordinated a partnership between the PBSO, PBCFR and the village with the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities on the annual Day for Autism: Building Bridges with Law Enforcement Picnic. This event seeks to deescalate any future interaction between law enforcement and people with autism by providing a foundation of positive interaction.

Poritz has also taken a lead for the last six years in the massive effort to coordinate law enforcement resource activities for the annual holiday parade in Wellington.

“Poritz has an extensive background in crime prevention in which he is a certified crime prevention practitioner for the State of Florida,” Porath said. “He also advises on the Neighborhood Watch program, which includes 23 groups in Wellington.”

Poritz has worked in road patrol, community policing and crime prevention in Wellington. He enjoys serving in the community.

“What’s not to like about Wellington? There are the residents in the Village of Wellington, the staff of the village… the good people,” he said. “All my years here have been positive experiences.”

With hobbies that are encompassed by the phrase “fatherhood,” Poritz is the proud parent of a four-year-old son.

“I worked my way into the career,” he explained.

While in college, he had several choices for a major and then took a “Policing in America” course. “It snowballed from there, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

Poritz finds it difficult to pinpoint one thing that he likes most about his job. “It’s hard to choose one, but I would say the ability to work with people and problem-solve,” he said.

Poritz also enjoys the coordination of the PBSO resources with the events he handles, and he noted that the agency gets a great amount of support from the Wellington Village Council and village staff with the many events he oversees.

Nominated by PBCFR Battalion Chief Ken Wooldridge, Dube has been a Palm Beach County firefighter for more than 25 years.

Assigned to Wellington, where he has been a resident for almost as many years, Dube worked as a medic and certified driver before being named to the lieutenant short list, then bypassing it to be promoted to captain.

“I have known Craig since my earliest days at fire-rescue,” Wooldridge said. “He is a good friend.”

Wooldridge described Dube as a model employee and supervisor. “He takes an active role in the lives of those he works with both on and off duty,” he said. “His crew at Station 20 has been together for quite a while and are loyal to him, citing his excellent leadership abilities and willingness to constantly improve on the basics of the job.”

Wooldridge particularly noted Dube’s humility as he works to get the job done.

“He is quiet, mild-mannered and always ready to work hard to meet the department’s goals and objectives in the areas of training, education and consistency,” Wooldridge said.

This is evidenced by his always positive attitude and willingness to respond to whatever needs to get done during the shift, whether it be a job task or helping out a fellow crew member.

“What I like most about Craig is his ability to maintain a cool head in the most challenging of emergency incidents,” Wooldridge said, adding that he has the strength and courage to make the right decision even when it might not be the most popular one. “This quality alone makes him an exceptional leader in the fire service and in the community.”

Dube is a family man with five daughters. His wife had three, including a set of twins, from a previous marriage. She and Dube have a set of twins of their own.

“It has been exciting. The youngest just turned 18 and is graduating from high school,” said Dube, who loves living in Wellington because it has such a great family environment. “It’s the place I wanted to settle down and have a family.”

His life in Wellington predates his time as a parent.

“When I moved out here, I was still single,” recalled Dube, who decided to become a firefighter in his early 20s after studying business at Palm Beach State College and working as a sales and service representative.

“I had been working out since I was 18 in a gym, and some of my workout friends we’re becoming firefighters,” said Dube, who explained that their career path got him interested in community service. “I am about five years behind those friends in my career.”

When he is not helping people, saving lives and property, Dube and his family have gotten into camping in recent years. Concentrating their trips in Florida so far, he just returned from 10 days of camping in the Keys. “We try to go to a different place each time,” he said.

Dube enjoys his ability to help those in need.

“I like the job because I like helping people, the excitement of the job, never knowing what the next call will be,” he said, explaining that it might be an elderly person who fell down or it might be a three-car pileup requiring extrication.

Dube noted that an exciting call in his line of work is also probably somebody’s worst nightmare coming true.

“We strive to have those positive outcomes. That’s why we train so much, so we can do our best every single call for any kind of emergency,” Dube said. “We try and do a good job every single time and do it right. There’s not a better job in the world.”

Facebookpinterestmail

Gareth Johnson Uses His Impressive Musical Abilities To Help Celebrate Life’s Milestones Violin Virtuoso

Gareth Johnson Uses His Impressive Musical Abilities To Help Celebrate Life’s Milestones
Violin Virtuoso

Classically trained concert violinist and Wellington resident Gareth Johnson believes that people don’t have to let their special occasions go uncelebrated in the COVID-19 era — and he has been using his impressive musical abilities to help.

At an age where most kids might grasp a favorite stuffed animal, Johnson was putting his arm around a violin, working toward becoming a virtuoso player.

At age nine, he saw famed violist Itzhak Perlman perform and discovered his true passion. “I bought my own violin at a pawn shop for $80,” he recalled.

A year later, he was taking master lessons with Perlman. By age 11, he was jetting around the world performing and was in the Juilliard pre-college program receiving the best training available.

At age 16, Johnson moved with his family here to Wellington, with several boxes of worldwide awards, and the family would have to find space for the many more to come in his career.

Johnson has won numerous competitions and prizes throughout the United States and Europe. He was the 2002 junior winner and the 2010 senior winner of the international Sphinx Competition, and he earned the International Career and Business Alliance (ICABA) Salute to Living Black History Makers Award in 2016.

Today, Johnson holds a master’s degree from the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton and attributes much of his success to his mother Linda, who holds a doctoral degree in music education. “She was always there sitting at the piano,” Johnson said. “You find that the greatest musicians all had that parent musician spurring them on.”

Today, at 34, Johnson is director of The Parlor Series in Lake Worth, which is devoted to developing and showcasing both world-class and local artistic talent. He has two studios for private lessons, one in Lake Worth and one in Wellington, and he is regarded as one of the most technically superior violinists of his generation. He currently plays on an 1840 J.B. Vuillaume violin and has performed with his catalyst, Itzhak Perlman, as well as Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman and other world-renowned string virtuosos.

Before COVID-19, Johnson traveled the world as a soloist, master teacher and educator. He is an accomplished arranger and gifted composer of classical, contemporary, new age and hip-hop music. While he is waiting for things to return to normal, he has been teaching and playing.

“Not everyone who is a great performer is a great teacher,” noted Johnson, confident, yet humble, as he is empirically both. “I have been thinking, and I don’t think people should let special occasions get away without a celebration — and that celebration needs music… I want to open people’s minds to things that can occur with music, even now.”

Picture this, a mother’s 80th birthday in a nursing home, sealed due to the virus emergency. “We couldn’t go in to visit her, so they arranged for me to set up outside, and they opened the drapes and the windows, and everyone, especially the mom, could hear violin music played outside on the sidewalk,” Johnson said.

When performing, Johnson is fully COVID-19 compliant.

“I set up with my mask in a taped-off area, most have been outside, often on the beach, just me and the instrument, with a custom-designed program, fighting what comes, to keep the music alive,” he said. “My mom says I am the lone violinist fighting for a good cause like the Lone Ranger.”

With all the great concertos in his fingertips, Johnson has a huge repertoire from Bach to pop to hip-hop. Maybe it should be Bach to Zeppelin? “I take recommendations, and I can play almost anything,” said Johnson, who has played for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. “It is so important not to skip special occasions with loved ones.”

Another recent situation was arranged for Johnson to play some favorite songs to a 10-year-old girl who was ill in a hospital in Washington, D.C. Johnson played an online concert just for her. “She was so happy after I played for her,” he said. “She came out all right. That’s the power of music. I like to think it helped put her in a positive frame of mind.”

Another recent recital was for a Heat basketball coach’s 10th anniversary. “They had seven or eight people on Zoom, and I played for the family, and now we are all friends,” Johnson said. “The kids want to play violin.”

And as a former artist-in-residence, distinguished lecturer and master string instructor, who better to provide those private lessons?

Johnson also works with children who are less fortunate. “I enjoy assisting kids who are talented, practice and work hard,” he said.

Critically acclaimed for his playing, Johnson served as artist-in-residence and distinguished lecturer at Albany State University. He has performed as a soloist and held residencies with numerous orchestras in the United States, including Annapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, the Boston Pops, Cincinnati, Detroit, Hartford, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Seattle and St. Louis, and he has had several performances at Carnegie Hall.

Johnson also performs for major market international corporate events as an electric violinist. In recent years, he has taught and performed in Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa, as well as England, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. Past tours have included mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as El Salvador, Germany and Austria.

To arrange to have Gareth Johnson perform, he can be reached through his web site at www.garethjohnson.org, where you can also check out his videos.

 

 

Facebookpinterestmail

Daring To Be Different: Wellington’s Spotted Sporthorse Dani A Sight To See Unique Horse

Daring To Be Different: Wellington’s  Spotted Sporthorse Dani A Sight To See Unique Horse

When you venture to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, one thing may stand out to the casual observer: few horses actually catch your eye, at least in terms of coloring.

Bays, chestnuts, grays and blacks are the widely seen coat colors, even in the jumpers, where the only judges are the clock and the rails. In fact, in most of the upper echelons of equestrian sports, traditional colors seem to be favored over bright palominos, flashy paints and especially leopard spots.

But that paradigm seems to be shifting toward the colorful, even in the more conservative hunter and dressage worlds, where human judges can be biased or favoring toward solid, traditional coat colors.

In show jumping, scope, speed and staying power have always taken precedence over coat color, but even then it is somewhat rare to see a Grand Prix horse with a bald face and high stockings like Paulo Santana’s Taloubet, or a brilliant tobiano paint like Brianne Goutal’s Mon Gamin.

In dressage, where tradition and decorum reign supreme, James Koford’s Friesian paint mare Adiah HP was crowned Grand Prix National Champion in 2017, signaling an acceptance of the more colorful coat patterns. However, if a paint horse’s bright splashes are rare at the Wellington show grounds, it’s reasonable to say that spots are even more unconventional.

But that hasn’t stopped Laura Reece and Palm Beach Sport Horses’ Danash’s Northern Tempest from daring to be different. Known as Dani around the barn, the mare’s unique leopard print with dark points coloring is the result of her Appaloosa Friesian heritage and is actually a lack of white pigment on a dark coat versus black spots on white.

In addition to her dam’s spots, Dani also inherited her father’s size and movement, which contributes to her success as a sport horse. But while her color may be a show stopper, especially in the green and rusty stirrup hunters in which she competes, Reece has discovered that her spots are just a bonus to her willing attitude and sweet personality.

“She’s exceptionally smart, forgiving and a pleasure to ride,” Reece said. “Showing in Wellington is always going to be intimidating for an amateur like me, but sitting on Dani makes me confident. It’s hard not to adopt her positive attitude once you’re in the saddle.”

In the hunters, judges rank horses and riders based on the collective presentation of their ride: taking off from the perfect distance, maintaining the correct lead, the rider’s position and the horse’s jumping style are all taken into consideration. In theory, coat color should not be a factor in a horse’s score, but spots are indicative of a horse’s breeding, and can sometimes be a hindrance to a hunter. But Reece puts her focus on Dani’s performance, and their enjoyment of the sport, rather than solely on scores and trophies.

“Dani has already opened so many doors for me, getting a ribbon or score is really just a bonus,” Reece said. “She has gotten me back into riding, given me confidence, partnership and enjoyment. What more can I ask?”

Despite competing only against themselves, Dani and Reece have racked up a few wins at the Winter Equestrian Festival, as well as other shows, including a circuit championship during Equestrian Sport Productions’ Holiday Series at the end of 2019. And while her 2020 winter show season was cut short by the pandemic, 2021 is already looking exceptionally bright.

“We already have big plans in the works for 2021, which should get Dani some time in the national spotlight,” Reece said. “We are hoping to use her widespread appeal to develop a scholarship fund and other initiatives to help promote equestrian sports and horsemanship. Everyone should have the chance to experience riding a horse of a lifetime, and all of the amazing things that come with that experience. Dani has already given me that, and we think the best thing to do is to pay it forward. Whether your horse has spots, or feathers, or jumps the 1.50M, it’s all about enjoying the ride and spreading that joy when you can.”

Learn more about this unique horse at www.danithewonderhorse.com.

Facebookpinterestmail

Wellington Club Presents Scholarships To Students With An Environmental Eye Garden Scholars

Wellington Club Presents Scholarships To Students With An Environmental Eye
Garden Scholars

For the past 40 years, the Wellington Garden Club has been committed to the beautification of the community while also supporting local students studying horticulture, environmental science or related fields of study.

Since the inception of its long-standing scholarship program, the Wellington Garden Club has awarded a total of $34,175 to promising students, and in this most unusual of years, that tradition continued.

“The scholarship committee accepts the applications, and then we interview all of the candidates and make our decisions. Usually, we conduct face-to-face interviews. Of course, this year, interviews were done virtually,” said Maria Wolfe, first vice president of the Wellington Garden Club.

Under the leadership of Scholarship Chair John Siena, the Wellington Garden Club chose three recipients to receive $1,000 each for the current academic year.

Lauren Miles began her education at Palm Beach State College in what would have been her eighth-grade year. She excelled in her studies, making it to both the President’s List and the Dean’s List, then matriculated to Florida Atlantic University to continue her studies in environmental science.

Raaz Bhatia, an incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida, graduated from Wellington High School with a 3.98 GPA. While there, she served as vice president of the National Technical Honor Society and was a member of the math, technical, science, social studies and Spanish honor societies, as well as band and chorus. When not studying, Bhatia works with disadvantaged children through her church.

Georgia Brooks successfully completed two years of coursework at Santa Fe College in Gainesville and has now matriculated to the University of Florida to complete her education in the field of environmental science. In fact, she was a previous recipient of a scholarship from the Wellington Garden Club.

“We expect Georgia will have a positive impact in stewardship of our environment,” Siena said. “Her determination to further her education in environmental science is commendable.”

Brooks is proud of her association with the club.

“The Wellington Garden Club scholarship is very important to me because I really am invested in the environment,” she said. “Initially, I was involved in the garden club at Palm Beach Central High School, and it was there that I got introduced to the Wellington Garden Club. This is actually my second year getting the scholarship because I graduated high school in 2019. Now, I’m majoring in environmental engineering at the University of Florida. I do have Bright Futures, which takes care of my tuition, but there are a lot of other fees. I’ve been using the scholarship mostly for textbooks. With the coronavirus, a lot of extracurriculars have been put on hold, but I hope to get back to gardening and recycling soon.”

This year’s honorees are expected to do great things in the future.

“Each of the scholarship recipients has qualities that bode well for the potential impact they will have on our community,” Wolfe said.

Since its founding in 1981, the Wellington Garden Club has worked to educate its own members as well as the public in the fields of gardening, horticulture, botany, floral design, landscape design and environmental awareness through the conservation of natural resources, civic beautification and nature studies.

This year, a plant exchange was safely held at a local park where members could swap plants, perhaps adding something to their garden landscape that had not been there before.

Perseverance through adversity is the lesson being offered to the scholarship recipients.

“Our members are getting an opportunity to spend time in their home gardens,” Wolfe said. “When many return from their second homes up north, we will resume our meetings, although I assume the September and October meetings will be held virtually.”

No one knows what the next year will bring, but it certainly will include another class of Wellington Garden Club scholarship honorees.

“We intend to continue our commitment to helping worthy scholars further their education,” Siena said. “The Wellington Garden Club is proud of its efforts to instill in youth the love of gardening and the respect and protection of the environment.”

For more information about the Wellington Garden Club, visit www.wellingtongardenclub.org.

Facebookpinterestmail

The Crowned Pearls Of Wellington Support A Wide Variety Of Local Causes Community Service

The Crowned Pearls Of Wellington Support A Wide Variety Of Local Causes Community Service

The Crowned Pearls of Wellington is a new community service organization that has stepped up to the plate over the past year to help a variety of local causes.

The Crowned Pearls is an official interest group of the international organization Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the nation’s oldest sorority for African American women.

Wellington resident Jenny Hassell, now retired from her position as director of employer and labor relations in North America for Johnson & Johnson, is the president of the Crowned Pearls, which aims to become a fully recognized chapter within the Alpha Kappa Alpha organization.

Founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 15, 1908, the sorority is a worldwide sisterhood of approximately 300,000 college-educated women operating more than 1,000 chapters in communities across the United States and around the world.

“Our mission is to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women to improve social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life and to be of service to all mankind,” Hassell explained. “We are committed to helping each other and positively impacting the communities in which we live and work.”

In January 2019, Hassell and seven other Alpha Kappa Alpha women living in the community founded the Crowned Pearls as a social club.

“Over time, we succeeded in significantly growing our membership. Members bring expertise from the fields of medicine, law, business, education, social work and more,” Hassell said. “All are talented women who commit their time and effort in support of those less fortunate and all work tirelessly to uplift those in need through volunteering. At the time of the social club’s inception, we were individually providing community service to help those in need.”

As operations expanded, so did the sphere of focus for the Crowned Pearls.

“Once the social club was formed, we became a community service partner with the Village of Wellington,” said Hassell, who spends much of her free time doing social work. “We have provided volunteer services on food drives, holiday toy collections and back to school backpack events, and we have served as mentors to students participating in the Village of Wellington’s Students Working to Achieve Greatness (SWAG) program.”

The goal of establishing an official Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter takes time and effort.

“As an initial step, members of Alpha Kappa Alpha must first demonstrate the capability to organize and operate as an interest group of the sorority,” Hassell said. “We must also commit to supporting the international organization’s program targets, which includes supporting historically black colleges and universities, women’s health and wellness initiatives, building economic legacies, the arts, as well as global impact initiatives.”

After developing a deep understanding of the approval process for pursuing the establishment of a chapter based in Wellington, the social club was ready to further its goal.

“We requested approval in December 2019 to form an official interest group under the umbrella of the international organization, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.,” Hassell explained. “We also asked to continue the use of the name Crowned Pearls of Wellington.”

Approval was granted to begin operating as an official interest group in February 2020 and to continue the work of providing volunteer support to Wellington and the surrounding communities. Its community service target areas are Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, The Acreage, Loxahatchee Groves, suburban Lake Worth and Westlake. “We must continue to demonstrate our capabilities to the international organization over time and then be evaluated to determine if we have met the standards for chapter operations approval,” Hassell said.

The Crowned Pearls of Wellington continues to serve as a community partner by volunteering time to causes, which helps to improve the lives of others.

“Today, we partner with the Village of Wellington and the Wellington Rotary Club on the Feeding South Florida initiative, and we are proud to have been a contributing partner to the Grab-N-Go Pantry at local hospitals to support the healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hassell said. “We have also committed a significant amount of time to the SWAG program mentoring students and supporting other local community initiatives.”

The group has several more community service initiatives planned for the coming months throughout its target areas. “We are committed to bringing our talents and efforts to strengthen the community and in helping to improve the lives of others,” Hassell said.

For more information about the Crowned Pearls of Wellington, e-mail crownedpearls@gmail.com or write to Crowned Pearls of Wellington, P.O. Box 211553, Royal Palm Beach, FL 33421.

Facebookpinterestmail

New CoreLife Eatery Location Caters To Health-Conscious Diners Healthy Eating

New CoreLife Eatery Location Caters  To Health-Conscious Diners Healthy Eating

Eating is at the core of our daily lives, and now more than ever, healthy eating is a priority. That’s why Drew DeGrazia, owner of CoreLife Eatery, didn’t let uncertain times stall his plans for a mid-June opening.

The fast-casual restaurant comes power-packed with its greens, grains and broths concept that’s already proving to be a winning trifecta at its new location on the east side of State Road 7, near the border between Royal Palm Beach and Wellington.

“We are a concept that will make you healthier and happier. That’s the concept I’m bringing to the neighborhood — trying to make people’s lives a little bit better,” DeGrazia said.

The nearly 3,000-square-foot location welcomes you with bright orange décor, light wood tables with sunlight pouring in from its many windows. It seats up to 120 in normal times, but the restaurant is currently operating at half capacity in the dining room with takeout available from a separate pickup area.

“Our customer service, hands down, will have people wanting to come back once they’ve been in the door,” he said.

Cheerful signs guide you along your way to the counter to create your bowl of choice, aimed to please all taste buds and dietary needs.

“The food is made right in front of you, so you see what’s going on in the kitchen,” DeGrazia said. “We are a scratch-made kitchen. There isn’t a thing that comes in here in a bag that’s pre-made. It’s all made fresh daily, so that’s where our difference is. It’s clean and organic. I don’t have a freezer in the building, and I don’t have a fryer. If it’s a hot product, it was either on our flame grill or it was in the oven.”

From the moment you step to the counter, it looks like a section of the produce aisle. Let’s start with the green bowls.

“We have multiple options,” he explained. “There’s Napa cabbage, spinach, kale, romaine and arugula to build the salads with fresh ingredients, like black beans to corn to carrots, beets to peppers. So many options. I can’t think of anything we don’t have.”

Salads start at $8.95. There are seven proteins to choose from, including chicken (regular or spicy), Korean-style pork, poké-style tuna, tofu, falafel, hummus and a house specialty, the grass-fed, tri tip steak.

“It’s a very unique cut, a cross between the filet and the strip steak. It’s a restaurant cut. It has all the flavor and all the tenderness. It’s very lean and very tasty,” DeGrazia said.

The steak, bacon and bleu cheese salad is a top seller. It’s loaded with romaine, mesclun mix, tri tip steak, bacon, tomatoes, cranberries, walnuts and gorgonzola.

“We also have a traditional southwest grilled chicken salad,” he said. “We make 100 percent of our dressings, all made from scratch in-house. All the ingredients are listed in front of you to see what’s in your dressing, using yogurt as a base.”

For those looking for a grains bowl, the Sriracha ginger tofu and ancient grains bowl is a popular vegetarian choice. It’s filled with warm quinoa, shredded kale, roasted tofu, carrots, raw beets, spicy broccoli, ginger and Sriracha.

For broth lovers, there are several variations.

“We have a beef broth, a chicken broth, veggie broth and a couple variations of the chipotle broth, a little spicier, so there’s four different options,” DeGrazia said. “You can turn any one of our bowls into a grain green or broth, create your own, or there’s our hand-crafted recipes. We also have soup options, based on our broths. A broccoli cheddar, chicken noodle and coconut curry soup.”

Sides range from Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes to a gluten-free mac and cheese.

“The gluten-free mac and cheese is outstanding. The restaurant is mostly gluten-free,” he said. “I say mostly because we added a naan bread taco to our menu. We take extreme caution for anyone who comes in with any type of allergy. We have a crew member designated at every shift who takes over that order and deals with that customer alone so there’s zero cross contamination.”

Tacos are now a permanent item, with seven different kinds based on the protein picked, all under $4. “We were the first store to roll with it as an opening,” DeGrazia said. “It was tested in New York. They’re sold on an individual basis, so I have people adding a salad to a taco as a dinner meal to give it more kick. It can also be eaten in a lettuce wrap to be gluten-free.”

All the meats are antibiotic free; eggs are cage free. There’s a kids’ power menu with salad, soup or power plate for $4.95 and under.

Even the beverages are freshly made and organic. “There is no soda fountain. We make all our beverages fresh. We make homemade lemonades, cranberry cayenne, beet and regular lemonade, organic mandarin,” he said. “Something else we also serve is cold-pressed coffee. And green tea is our calorie-less sugarless option. There is no high fructose corn syrup anywhere in the building. If there’s a sweetener, we use agave.”

DeGrazia hopes the concept always stays fresh with customers, as his business partner and brother, Brad DeGrazia, plan to continue opening up shops throughout southeast Florida, with a Boca Raton location being the first, bringing 80 jobs to the area since June between the two locations. Pembroke Pines is next, with Delray Beach to follow.

“We’ve been in business since 2003 together. It works out well. I truly do this to help people, to employ people,” he said. “Obviously for me, to make some money, too. But I work hand-in-hand in these stores. I want to be close enough to all my stores so I can have an impact.”

The restaurant offers dine-in, takeout and delivery through Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash. The CoreLIfe app is recommended for ordering.

CoreLife Eatery is located at 440 S. State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach next to Aspen Dental. It is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call (561) 814-2158 or visit www.corelifeeatery.com.

Facebookpinterestmail

Wellington’s Principals Credit Teachers And Unique Programs For Strong School Grades

Wellington’s Principals Credit Teachers And Unique Programs For Strong School Grades

If there’s one thing overall that attracts young families to choose Wellington, it’s the community’s top-performing public schools. There are six elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools that serve the Wellington area — and all 11 are consistently A-rated schools in the State of Florida’s annual grade reports.

What makes Wellington schools so successful? To get the answers, Wellington The Magazine spoke to all 11 principals. Not surprisingly, they gave much of the credit to their teachers.

“At Palm Beach Central High School, excellence is never assumed, but always pursued,” Principal Darren Edgecomb said. “Our school is a microcosm of society. Our diversity is our strength. Our classroom teachers are the single greatest factor in our students’ success. They believe that each student has greatness inside.”

“We have bilingual teachers in every grade level who can relate to children and their families,” said Dana Pallaria, principal at New Horizons Elementary School. “We have teachers who care about students and go above and beyond every day to ensure that students are successful emotionally, physically, socially and mentally.”

“Our teachers are absolutely amazing,” added Michella Levy, principal of Binks Forest Elementary School. “They work countless hours to ensure that our students get what they need academically and emotionally. We love our students, families and the Village of Wellington for all their support.”

“Our teachers develop rigorous lessons to meet the needs of all learners. Their dedication and perseverance are evident when you enter any classroom,” explained Blake Bennett, principal at Wellington Landings Middle School. “Teachers take the time to get to know their students, and that translates to higher achievement in the classroom. They work together to plan, remediate student gaps in knowledge and use data to drive best instructional practices, which is beneficial for new teachers and experienced teachers joining our staff.”

“The majority of our dedicated professionals have taught only at our school, including several who have been in this profession for 15-plus years,” said Edilia De La Vega, principal of Panther Run Elementary School. “We are a family. When an initiative is implemented at our school, it is accomplished with 100 percent buy-in, and that is why we are so successful.”

“Our teachers know the importance of working together to disaggregate data, share knowledge and discuss multiple ways to reach students, especially those struggling academically, emotionally or socially,” said Michele Johnson, principal at Equestrian Trails Elementary School. “Our teachers have been completing professional development in STEM education, and their efforts have been phenomenal. They are not afraid to try something new.”

Wellington Elementary School Principal Dr. Maria Vaughan echoed the others when she said that her teachers are relentless in their efforts to reach every child. “They are dedicated professionals with a myriad of experience and expertise,” she said. “With the recent changes to the mode of instructional delivery due to COVID-19, our teachers exemplify resilience, which is part of our core values at WES.”

“The teachers at Emerald Cove Middle School care about their students and their social and emotional well-being,” Principal Dr. Eugina Smith Feaman added. “They understand that in order to reach a student academically, they must build a relationship with them. We pride ourselves in getting to know the needs of our students, then working innovatively and cooperatively with them so they succeed.”

“What sets our teachers apart is their extreme dedication and commitment to the success of all students,” explained Gail Pasterczyk, principal at Elbridge Gale Elementary School. “Many provide tutoring before school, after school and on the weekends. Some do remediation during their lunch and break times of their own choosing. They attend training programs. They also incorporate a significant amount of technology.”

“Our teachers always go the extra mile,” stressed Michael Aronson, principal of Polo Park Middle School. “The amount of time that goes into planning meaningful and interactive lessons is obvious as I walk classes and listen to the students talk about their teachers. The amount of time that many of our teachers put in after school and on weekends, working with students via e-mail or Google Classroom, sets us apart from many other schools.”

“I am proud to work with a faculty that includes teachers who have been here since the school’s inception 30 years ago, as well as more than 20 WHS graduates,” said Cara Hayden, principal at Wellington High School. “They perfect their craft with continuous professional development. Our department chairs foster a spirit of collegiality, constantly working with newer teachers to share their best practices. When professional educators come to Wellington High School, they stay at Wellington High School.”

While teachers get the credit, a healthy mission and strong school vision for the future always helps.

“Binks Forest Elementary School is a neighborhood school,” Levy explained. “We have high expectations and do whatever it takes to make sure that all students make a year or more growth in a year’s time. We look at the individual needs of each student, create schedules and align resources to meet their needs.”

“We focus on developing the whole child,” added Bennett of Wellington Landings. “We offer a wide array of elective classes, as well as before-school and after-school activities, sports, intramurals, tutoring and clubs. On any given day, we may have 500 students participating in an after-school activity. We offer 12 high school credit courses, and all students can access these. Also, we offer technology and arts academies. Students love taking these classes and will often ask me if we can have one more period each day so they can take more of the electives.”

“We have a strong, collaborative relationship with our PTA, school advisory board and business partners,” Panther Run’s De La Vega said. “All stakeholders’ opinions are valued and considered when making decisions that affect the school population. We believe in the importance of educating each child to be a culturally competent citizen. We offer gifted/high-achieving classes in grades K through 5, an accelerated mathematics program in grades 3 through 5 and our ESE teachers provide the best inclusive environment for all learners to be successful, ensuring that equity and access is equal among all of our demographics.”

“Equestrian Trails is a strong community of staff, parents, community members and students,” Johnson said. “We collaborate and strive to prepare students for their future, academically, emotionally, socially and are always looking for innovative strategies and programs to help students in all capacities. We embrace change and challenge ourselves to think outside the box to reach all students. Our vision is to instill in every child the importance of working together through collaboration, communication, creativity and creative thinking in order to solve real-world problems and compete in a global society.”

“High school is a pivotal time for young people,” said Hayden of WHS. “We are committed to opening doors of opportunity to all of our kids. Our career and choice academies offer world-class instruction to students who are passionate about science, technology, business and the arts. In addition to student government and DECA, we are adding dedicated courses for our Link Crew (mentors for ninth graders), Latinos in Action and BLAST (Black Leadership & Achievement Student Team). We offer Advanced Placement and dual enrollment, and an athletics program loaded with professional veteran coaches who are experts in their field.”

“New Horizons Elementary is ranked third in the nation for being an ISA (International Spanish Academy) school,” Pallaria said. “We offer dual language classes beginning at age 4 through fifth grade. Students have the opportunity to be bilingual, even if their family doesn’t speak Spanish. New Horizons has teachers who come from Spain for three years to teach. Our students are fully bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. We prepare them to be culturally competent citizens with a respect for others and their differences.”

“Our diverse culture of students contributes to the amazing learning environment at our school,” Palm Beach Central’s Edgecomb said. “Leadership is often observed from the balcony view. This allows me to see the array of rigorous educational opportunities available for each student. Our student population is 38 percent Hispanic, 34 percent White and 21 percent Black. We have 50 percent of our population participating in the free/reduced lunch program. In addition, we serve approximately 400 ESE and 200 ELL students. All of these various groups contribute greatly to our school academic success and school culture.”

“Emerald Cove Middle School students, teachers and staff give their all each day to help make the school a success,” Smith Feaman said. “The teamwork, dedication and innovation shown makes the difference. Emerald Cove has a pre-information technology program and is an AVID school. We utilize various effective teaching strategies to scaffold learning for our students. In addition, we stress the performing and fine arts, and we encourage students to be active and well-rounded.”

“Elbridge Gale is the only school in the district to have nationally certified STEM teachers,” Pasterczyk said. “We also have numerous technology trailblazers, along with Google-certified teachers. We have four award-winning robotics teams that have gone to regional and state finals. One of the teams was given a prestigious invitation to the world competition this year.”

“Our school deserves an A because of the hard work that our students, teachers and school community put forth every day,” Polo Park’s Aronson said. “Together, we have forged a culture and climate that is overwhelmingly positive, and that shows every day in the pride that our school community has.”

“Our Fine Arts Academy sets us apart,” said Vaughan of Wellington Elementary. “The program includes visual arts, stage production, handbells, TV production and an impressive strings program. Since the inception of the academy in 2016, the points earned for the school grade have increased 76 percent. We could not achieve this without the support of all stakeholders — our teachers, staff, parents, volunteers, business partners and community members. We really believe that ‘it takes a village.’ We have parents and staff members who attended WES as students, so some students have the same teacher their parents did, which is a very special experience.”

The Village of Wellington is unique in that it directly supports Wellington’s 11 schools via the Keely Spinelli Grant Program, named in memory of the late Binks Forest principal. Since its inception, more than $2 million in grants have been awarded, earmarked to help students who are struggling in reading and math. The principals are grateful for the support, noting that it helps keep the school grades high.

“We are so fortunate to have a community that directly supports our schools,” said Bennett of Wellington Landings. “I have never seen a municipality take such a vested interest in schools and follow through. The support has been unparalleled. Thanks to them, we are able to provide tutoring, special programming and materials to meet the individual needs of struggling learners.”

“The village gives us funding to provide tutorials and purchase resources in order to serve the needs of all students in both reading and math,” said Levy of Binks Forest. “We also look at the whole child to make sure that their emotional and mental needs are met.”

“Since Equestrian Trails is not a Title 1 school, we do not receive funding to support our lowest 25 percent,” Johnson said. “The Keely Spinelli Grant has enabled us to train teachers, purchase intensive programs and hire personnel to help struggling students meet standards and improve in language and math. Wellington demonstrates that it cares deeply about students, and it’s what sets us apart from other areas.”

“This grant allows us to ensure that all students are able to receive the extra assistance they may need to be successful in their academic classes,” said Hayden of WHS. “It funds summer academic programs and tutorial programs in algebra 1, geometry, reading, writing, biology, U.S. history and online credit remediation.”

“I couldn’t be more thankful for this grant,” said Pallaria of New Horizons. “It has provided our school with state-of-the-art technology and tools; allowed us to offer a daily structured and rigorous tutorial program to fill in the gaps of learning for struggling students; and enables teachers to utilize engaging educational computer programs.”

“We only succeed when all students succeed,” Palm Beach Central’s Edgecomb said. “The Spinelli Grant provides us with additional academic resources, lunch tutorials, after-school tutorials and Saturday tutorials. It would be extremely difficult for us to finance all of these additional opportunities without it. The Village of Wellington is extremely unique in the way it supports academic success for all students.”

“The Keely Spinelli Grant has had a huge impact on our efforts at WES,” Vaughan said. “The funds are used to provide additional intensive support for students through tutoring, as well as provide the opportunity for us to purchase much-needed resources and programs to expand and enhance the educational experience for our students.”

“The grants have helped to make Emerald Cove a success,” Smith Feaman agreed. “The grant has been used to purchase Chromebooks for student use and has funded the tutorial program Pirate Academy, as well as other programs and materials. This has allowed us to differentiate instruction, provide scaffolded instruction and work to close the academic gap.”

“The grant has allowed us to provide remediation to struggling students in all grade levels,” Elbridge Gale’s Pasterczyk said. “We have been able to hire additional staff to provide leveled literacy intervention in reading. We have learning gains and achievement in reading that would not have been possible without this additional support. We have also increased math achievement and remain in the top 10 percent in the district with math and science tutoring.”

“We use the grant to offset the cost of tutoring and purchasing needed technology and programs that enhance the learning process for our struggling students. We would not be able to do this without the grant,” Polo Park’s Aronson said. “The Village of Wellington has been an exceptional partner in the continued growth of our school.”

“This funding has allowed us to truly meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all of our students,” Panther Run’s De La Vega explained. “We are able to purchase new technology and resources, and to hire additional tutoring teachers who provide targeted, small-group instruction to the students in the lowest 25 percent. This grant permits all the students at Panther Run to be successful. This is what sets the Wellington schools apart and makes this truly a great hometown to live and work in.”

There is no doubt that the ongoing COVID-19 emergency will change how education in Wellington takes place this year. However, with a strong, A-rated foundation, Wellington schools stand ready to meet this unique challenge.

Facebookpinterestmail

Members Of Wellington High School’s Boys Lacrosse Team Leave Their Mark

Members Of Wellington High School’s Boys Lacrosse Team Leave Their Mark
Among the most competitive and close-knit lacrosse players in the nation are the eight seniors who formed the nucleus of the 2020 Wellington High School varsity boys lacrosse team.

This group of eight Wellington Wolverines were the backbone of what was perhaps the best boys lacrosse team in school history. Yet due to the COVID-19 shutdown, this year’s team didn’t get a chance to fulfill its destiny — a strong run in the post-season with the realistic hope of reaching the boys lacrosse state finals for the first time in school history.

Going into the season, optimism was high that this year’s WHS boys lacrosse team would do very well. That was confirmed when the squad had a splendid start to the season, winning seven of its first eight games. And then the season came to a grinding halt.

Despite the stoppage, the memories of the lacrosse season will remain alive and well for years to come for these eight seniors, who have been playing together for many years, starting with their days with the Wellington Wolfpack travel team, while enrolled at Wellington Elementary School.

Those eight seniors are Matt Granaroli, Aaron Thompson, Bryce Schwager, Andrew Crosby, Connor Anthony, Kylle Epstein, Jeremiah Rogan and Teddy Miloch.

All of them have strong and positive memories of their time playing lacrosse together, as well as spending time together away from the field.

While they will be forever linked as lacrosse teammates, their bond is as strong off the lacrosse field as it has been on the lacrosse field.

“We grew up together. We have that team chemistry,” Granaroli said. “We just don’t think twice about where to go and what to do. Most of us have known each other since grade school at Wellington Elementary. Ever since we met each other in school, we all became best buddies. It’s not a team. It’s a brotherhood. We all hang out together.”

“We’ve known each other for so long,” Thompson added. “I have great memories of traveling to tournaments, staying at the hotels and hanging out with one another.”

“I’m going to miss my teammates,” Schwager said. “My best memories are going to travel tournaments, staying up until 2 a.m. in the hotel and then having to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for a game. Our coaches were not happy.”

“As we got older, we all managed not to go our own separate ways,” Crosby added. “We stuck together, grew together and played as a family. We function well — both on and off the field.”

As they ponder life after high school, they each know exactly what they’ll miss.

“I will miss the strong friendships that I made through lacrosse,” Anthony said.

“We’ve all been friends,” Epstein added. “Our bond is more than lacrosse.”

“I learned a lot from my teammates, especially the lessons about teamwork,” Rogan explained.

“Lacrosse connected us and bonded us together,” Miloch said. “The most memorable parts of travel lacrosse were all the tournaments we attended.”

While playing high school lacrosse, each player had a separate role to play. Every player’s athletic attributes complemented one another, according to Wellington High School lacrosse head coach Johnny Hernandez and assistant coach Joe Calby.

Hernandez’s memories of these eight seniors are profound.

“Matt Granaroli was Mr. Fundamentals. He’s a player who knew his role on the team. He grew up from a 5-foot-nothing freshman to a 6-foot-1 stud in four years,” he said. “Aaron Thompson is a finisher. If he gets the ball in his stick, he’s either scoring a goal or making an assist. Bryce Schwager is a mentally tough kid. He’s a real competitor. Teddy Miloch has been a starter since day one. He did what we asked of him, and he excelled at it. He has a great attitude and gave great input.”

Each of the players gave it their all on their field, Calby said.

“Andrew Crosby was our biggest competitor. He doesn’t want to come in second to anybody. He was having a stellar senior year,” the coach continued. “Connor Anthony was the muscle on the team. He became an incredible leader. Kylle Epstein was the emotion of the team. He had the highest lacrosse IQ. Jeremiah Rogan was the quiet, funny guy on the team, and he’s a hard worker.”

Calby’s recollections are also filled with superlatives.

“Matt Granaroli was dedicated to getting the job done right. He made very few mistakes on the field,” he said. “Aaron Thompson is fast and shifty. He’s a good offensive player. Bryce Schwager was one of our true, strong, grit players. He’s tough and physical. Teddy Miloch’s a great offensive player. He understands how the offense is meant to work on the field. He’s a little coach on the field.”

It is a group of people that Calby will clearly miss.

“Andrew Crosby was our best player. He’s a perfectionist. You can’t slow him down. He doesn’t want to come off the field. He’s always looking to be the best on the field,” Calby continued. “Connor Anthony has a big body and was a great defender. He displayed great leadership. He was a team captain. He held the team together on the field. Kylle Epstein was a second coach on the field. He’s a great stick technician. He’s a hard-core player who is very physical on defense.”

Calby also referred to Epstein and Anthony as “the dynamic duo of the defense.”

“Jeremiah Rogan showed lots of grit. He’s a strong midfielder who was strong on the transition [from defense to offense]. He brought lots of intangibles to the team that didn’t appear on the stat sheet,” Calby said.

While each had amazing individual skills, what sets these players apart is what they did as a unit.

“I’m very proud of what this group accomplished as a team,” Hernandez said. “We had a great fall season. We played in three tournaments and made the championship final in each event.”

Calby said that the 2020 team was the best boys lacrosse team ever fielded at Wellington High School.

“It was a special group of players. Lacrosse has given their friendship adhesive they will hold for a lifetime,” he said. “Wins and losses will fade over the years, but they will always remember and love the game and how they played it together.”

One of this group’s biggest team highlights took place when they were sophomores in 2018. That year, Wellington defeated rival Palm Beach Central High School 5-4 after four overtime periods.

This past spring, the team’s biggest win was a 15-6 victory over Vero Beach High School. It was Wellington’s first-ever boys lacrosse victory against the Indians.

Wellington’s only loss this spring was to Jupiter High School, but it’s worth noting that Wellington actually led at halftime, which was a program first.

As for their futures playing lacrosse, some are committed to staying in the game.

Thompson plans to attend Santa Fe College in Gainesville and play for UF’s club lacrosse team. Epstein will play college lacrosse at the New York Institute of Technology.

Crosby plans to attend Florida State University and play club lacrosse. Anthony is also headed to FSU in the fall, where he plans to room with Crosby. “I’m thinking about playing for the men’s lacrosse club at FSU,” Anthony said.

Miloch will also be attending FSU, but he’s not sure about playing collegiate club lacrosse, as he’s now more interested in body building.

As for Granaroli, don’t be surprised if he plays college lacrosse, because he is a perfect fit for the sport. “As a sport, lacrosse is so much better for me,” Granaroli said. “I love the running part of lacrosse, and it’s a fun sport.”

Schwager will be attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Right now, he doesn’t plan on playing club lacrosse, but he doesn’t rule it out.

While this year’s eight seniors were focused on producing a memorable and historic season, they were also focused on the program’s future. At the beginning of pre-season practice, each senior was assigned a younger player to mentor in order to teach what is necessary to succeed.

Clearly, a blueprint for future success for boys lacrosse at Wellington High School was established. To their credit, these elite eight seniors were as focused on the program’s future as they were on its present.

Facebookpinterestmail