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Air Force Academy Recruits From Wellington Among The Next Generation Of Heroes

Air Force Academy Recruits From Wellington Among The Next Generation Of Heroes

The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is among the most difficult schools in the nation to get into. Retired Lt. Col. Rob Oswald ought to know — he has been the academy’s recruiting liaison officer for Palm Beach County for more than a decade.

“I’ve been doing this for the last 13 or 14 years, and very few get to the acceptance part. To have three from Wellington in one year is pretty miraculous, and they’re all friends,” Oswald said. “Usually I get one accepted every other year out of all the 12 schools I have assigned to me.”

The three young men are Wyatt Boswell, Mikey Garofalo and Zack Beatty.

“I give them all the credit. It takes a lot of hard work — studying and extracurricular activities, outside volunteer work — to get into the academy,” Oswald said. “In addition, they have to get a letter from their senator or congressman.”

Usually, students interested in attending the academy will reach out to Oswald.

“I start out as a mentor and, if the academy likes what they see when the candidate initially applies, they will ask me to interview them,” he explained. “I put in my recommendation, and the Air Force does their thing.”

Now that Boswell, Garofalo and Beatty are in, Oswald has taken off his evaluator hat and put on his mentor hat.

“Once they’re accepted, I try to line them up with kids currently in the academy and help them through their career,” said Oswald, who was a pilot himself. “Those three kids are pretty incredible.”

Garofalo, whose grandfather served in the Air Force, attended the academy’s prep school before entering the academy itself. “Everyone around you is a leader,” he said of the experience. “Everyone is leading each other; you can’t fall behind.”

He wants to study business, with the aim of working in acquisitions for the Air Force after graduation. In addition to their studies, recruits need to sign up for a sports team. Garofalo played for the Western Communities Football League and was highly sought after by colleges while playing for Palm Beach Central High School, so he naturally chose football.

“My mom and sister were crying,” Garofalo said of when he headed out for basic training. “As for me, because this was my second time going, I was less worried. I knew I could handle it. The first time was rough for me, mentally. I knew I had a lot of learning to do.”

Once there, Garofalo said the physical training (PT) was the worst part, but the best part is the friends you make.

“You’re all going through it together,” he explained. “You see the people next to you at their best and at their worst. In those 38 days, it brings everybody together.”

Garofalo said his day consists of school until noon, then football until around 7 p.m., then homework. “My schedule is jam-packed all day with schoolwork and football,” he said.

Boswell is another veteran of the Western Communities Football League. A recent Wellington High School graduate, he also attended the academy’s prep school.

Unlike Garofalo, Boswell chose the swim team as his sport, having enjoyed it in Wellington. “I got up at 5:45 this morning for a 6:30 practice,” he said. “I do this every other day — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays one week, Tuesdays and Thursdays the next.”

His ultimate goal, however, is to become a fighter pilot, and perhaps a general one day.

“I was going to join the U.S. Naval Academy, but everyone told me the Air Force has more planes, so there are more options,” Boswell said. “It interested me, and I applied.”

Although his family does not have a long military history, they were very supportive of his decision.

“I had to fill out two applications and write about five essays to get in,” he said. “They have a strong selection process which, last year, meant a 12 percent acceptance rate. Having attended the prep school helped me get in.”

Although basic training at the prep school takes about 18 days, it’s six weeks at the academy.

“For me, the hardest part was being away from my family,” Boswell said. “But I knew what to expect this time and handled it pretty well.”

His day consists of classes until 3 p.m., then swimming from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m., then homework.

“Next semester, I’m going to take about 20 credit hours as a freshman, which is roughly equivalent to the number of hours a graduate student takes in regular school,” Boswell said.

The story is a bit different for Beatty, a 2018 graduate of Wellington High School who played strong safety and wide receiver on the WHS football team, was on the swim team and served as a lifeguard at the Wellington Aquatics Complex.

After his father, an active duty Air Force deployment commander in the Mideast, flew him out to Colorado for basic training at the academy, Beatty was flown back shortly thereafter on medical leave to have surgery on a torn ligament in his foot. Following six months of rehab, he’ll return for a slightly delayed academy career. His stepfather also served in the Air Force.

“I’m hoping for a 30- or 40-year career in the Air Force, becoming a four-star general, and then I’d like to go into politics,” Beatty said of his future. “Nothing has changed; it has only been reinforced. I always knew that I was going to love every aspect of the military. As a kid, I dressed as a soldier every Halloween. Going through it only solidified that. I love the camaraderie and pride in country.”

He even loved basic training — at least until he was injured.

“It was a freak accident that happened during the team sports we do for bonding. My foot just crumpled,” Beatty said. “My heart is still there. It was hard, watching all my teammates do PT and all I could do was motivate them to keep going. I didn’t want to be home. But now I know what to expect and the knowledge I have to learn, and I can help my teammates along the way. Also, some of my closest friends will be able to help me through my first year, which is the hardest.”

Although Beatty’s five younger siblings were glad to have him home, it was still hard.

“They knew how much it hurt me not to be there right now,” he said. “I’ll go back next year stronger and better, and we’re looking forward to that. I have two younger brothers, and they all look up to me. I have a sister in ninth grade, and my youngest brother, at age 7, already knows he wants to fly jets.”

As always, Oswald was there. “I spoke to Zack after he hurt his ankle, tried to cheer him up a little bit,” he said. “He has a pretty positive attitude, but I know how devastating that was. He had been looking forward to going through with Wyatt and Mikey.”

When he returns to the academy, Beatty will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in one of 20 fields open to him. Right now, he’s torn between biology and aeronautical engineering. He will also choose a sport, most likely the combat shooting team or the parachuting team.

“I got hurt playing flag football, so I’ll stay away from that next year,” he said. “People don’t realize that the Air Force Academy is one of the top three hardest institutions to get into. You need a great grade point average, but you also need to be able to run a 6.5-minute mile and do 90 sit-ups and push-ups. But you form lifelong relationships with everyone there and know that, no matter what, you have each other’s backs.”

For teens interested in attending the Air Force Academy, Oswald is always available with information. “Go to your computer, type in your zip code, and it will tell you who your local rep is,” he said. “Then call or send an e-mail. Some do it in eighth grade, some in their senior year. I have six I’m trying to help out for the next season.”  

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Air Force Veteran Al Ziker Loves His Retirement In Wellington

Air Force Veteran Al Ziker Loves His Retirement In Wellington

In 1992, the 1,100-mile trip from veteran Al Ziker’s former home in Pittsburgh, Pa., to a spot west of I-95 in South Florida called Wellington was easy, especially for a man who had served his country as an Air Force navigator and made hundreds of flights from his base to a specific, ever-changing dot somewhere high above the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.

“My wife and I wanted to move to Florida, and we had friends in Wellington, so we looked here and chose a house we liked,” Ziker recalled.

In Wellington, the couple found a hometown they loved, and a great place for their son and daughter and their families to visit. Today, they have four grandchildren, the youngest of whom is 20.

A 1956 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Ziker joined the military shortly after he earned his degree and served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, in postings around the United States, Europe and the Pacific.

After leaving the Air Force in 1976, Ziker lived in Philadelphia for 15 years, before making the move to Wellington.

“I worked in a home center [in Pennsylvania] and worked for Home Depot when I moved down here,” Ziker said.

In retirement, he is the president of his homeowners’ association and a property manager. “In my spare time, I still do a bit of woodworking,” Ziker added.

He is also very active in the local American Legion post, Wellington’s Chris Reyka Memorial Post 390, where he has served as post commander.

During the two decades Ziker served in the Air Force, he began his training at Lackland Air Force Base near Houston. His postings were in Massachusetts for seven years, then Mississippi for three years, Ohio and Germany for a few years each, and California for 18 months, with two tours in Okinawa, a year in Thailand and a shorter time in Goose Bay, Labrador.

That speck over the ocean mentioned earlier refers to Ziker’s job navigating his refueling plane to the rendezvous point so another military plane running on empty could be assured of finding a filling station with a full-service fill-up.

His crew serviced fighters, bombers and even the famous SR-71 Blackbirds, a mach-3-capable aircraft in operation for 32 years beginning in 1966 — the most sophisticated plane in America’s arsenal in its time.

“We had a four-man crew: a pilot, co-pilot, navigator and a boom operator who controlled the boom to put it into the fighter or the bomber, whoever we were refueling,” Ziker explained. “The pilot and co-pilot kept the plane moving smoothly in a straight line. I got us to the right spot.”

Ziker explained that it could be exciting with no computer-assisted equipment. “It was all manual controls. Just like refueling your car, you put the boom in the receptacle on the fighter or bomber,” he said. “It has something like a pop-up valve, it pushes it open and the fuel starts going in.”

Ziker said that the navigator makes sure a refueling plane is at the exact right place at the time a fighter or bomber, with only minutes of fuel left, arrives there needing to be resupplied, high above the open ocean.

“We had some emergencies, but nothing life-threatening,” Ziker said. “We had a boom that got jammed. It was extended the full length and didn’t want to retract.”

It was an experience that took some worrying minutes to resolve and get the boom stowed properly.

Now, in more relaxed times, Ziker reflected on what he likes most about his adopted hometown.

“What I like best about Wellington per se: the beauty, they try to really keep it up here really nice and they are pretty strict about keeping the beauty of the neighborhoods,” he said.

Ziker continued that the neighborhoods look good because the homeowners’ associations have a lot of documents to follow to keep them looking nice. “You can’t paint your house purple, you can’t raise dogs or cats or cows or goats in the front yard,” he said. “The village does a good job of trying to keep the village neat.

Ziker feels the equestrian community also contributes to the overall beauty of the community. He considers them a very important part of the Wellington lifestyle.

“Plus, the equestrians are nice,” he said. “They come in here, they bring a lot of money with them. If it wasn’t for them, Wellington wouldn’t be where it is today.”

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Firefighter Bob Dawson Counts On Support Of His ‘Two Families’

Firefighter Bob Dawson Counts On Support Of His ‘Two Families’

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Capt. Bob Dawson is a station officer. He is the captain charged with running the station, the engines and the rescue vehicles.

“I was a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania and got into it again when I moved to Florida,” recalled Dawson, 56, who works out of Station 25 on Wellington Trace.

Dawson is also a devoted family man — in more ways than one.

“I am married, for 32 years, to my lovely wife Debbie. We have two boys, Ryan who is still in high school and Rob who is older,” said Dawson about his home family. “Rob is about to become a father in late November of his own two boys. His wife is going to have identical twin sons.”

He and his wife were proud to soon become grandparents, then they found out it was to be twins. “So, we are happy about being grandparents,” he said.

Dawson is also satisfied with his chosen career.

“I think the most satisfying aspect of being a firefighter is making a difference in someone’s life to help them out — whether it’s in their time of need or just a problem they’re having,” Dawson said. “We, as firefighters, may not consider it an emergency, [but] to someone who’s calling 9-1-1 at that time, for them, it is an emergency.”

Battalion Chief Sam Eaton said that Dawson has more than 22 years of service with PBCFR, has helped with the Hazardous Incident Management Team and provided assistance in the recovery from Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys.

For his service, the Wellington Public Safety Committee recently named Dawson this year’s Wellington Top Firefighter.

“The things I am most proud of in this career, and there’s a lot to be proud of, are some of the things I’m involved with, like the South Florida Region 7 Incident Management Team and the Emergency Operations team,” Dawson said.

The Incident Management Team is the group that comes in and supports emergencies like hurricanes.

“Such as three years ago, when part of the team went to the Bahamas to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin, and last year, the team went to the Keys during the Hurricane Irma recovery,” Dawson said.

When in this role, Dawson has a very specific job to do.

“I’m the logistics section chief,” Dawson said. “My job is finding them stuff. I’m the guy who finds them things they need for the deployment.”

During the Irma campaign, Dawson was on medical leave recovering from knee surgery. Yet he came in and worked with his team. “I stayed back supporting the team, finding items they needed,” he said.

As part of the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Team, Dawson is on hand locally whenever the need arises. “Whenever the Emergency Operations Center is activated, I report at Southern Blvd. and Military Trail,” he said.

In addition to actively volunteering in his church, Dawson volunteered in scouting when his oldest son was growing up. Now his younger son is into sports.

“There comes a time when your son gets too old, and you can’t coach your own son anymore,” he said. “But being from Pittsburgh, I’m a die-hard Steelers fan.”

Dawson’s hobbies are hunting and fishing with his sons. “My sons love camping, and anytime we take someone who has never been camping before, their maiden voyage, so to speak, is always to Lion Country Safari,” he said, referring to the KOA Campground adjacent to the world-famous drive-through wildlife park and attraction off Southern Blvd.

The campground has all the requirements of a camping facility, but it is close to home should a first-time camping group need some support from their home family.

Dawson explained that to be successful in the career of firefighting, you need to have two families.

“You have to have the support of your home family, as well as your fire-rescue family,” he said, stressing that no one can do the job alone. “They are both important.”

Spending time at the station adds a level of familiarity not found in other lines of work.

“We spend one-third of our lives with our fire-rescue family,” said Dawson, who added that he knows the members of his fire-rescue family every bit as well as he knows the biological members of his own family. “I know their likes, their dislikes and their quirks, and I know I can count on their support.”

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PBSO Detective Daniel Delia Loves Solving Crimes, Helping The Community

PBSO Detective Daniel Delia Loves Solving Crimes, Helping The Community

Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Daniel Delia worked with the New York Police Department for more than 20 years before retiring and moving to Wellington in 2002. Like so many who head to South Florida after their first career, the retirement didn’t take. He soon continued his police career by joining the Palm Beach County School District Police Department for five years.

Delia had always worked street level when he was a part of the largest police force in the world in New York City. He loved the work, and he missed it. This led him to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, where he currently works as a detective, solving crimes.

“I joined the PBSO to get back into more traditional law enforcement work and was assigned to District 8 in Wellington in 2008, which is a dream to work where I live,” Delia said.

Now, at age 63, he is of typical retirement age. “Actually, I’ve been considering retiring for quite a while. We all consider doing some things in our life that we just never seem to get to,” said Delia, with a laugh. “I keep putting off retirement because it is difficult to stop doing something that you love, and I love going to work and experiencing the joy of having a positive impact on the citizenry by helping them out by solving a case. It is great to have the victim say, ‘thank you.’”

Delia said that successful resolutions come about because of great teamwork. “I work with great, like-minded, highly qualified people, who effectively involve themselves in other people’s lives with a positive outcome,” he said. “There is nothing as satisfying as that in my work.”

After working with some real heroes at the NYPD, he said that he has learned a lot from some great people.

“A good cop is a problem solver,” Delia explained. “When we get a call for services from someone and there’s somebody in crisis, I think the most satisfying part of my profession is to work with a great group of extremely qualified detectives to solve the problems that people have. We can’t be successful without teamwork… There is nothing that I have ever done by myself in police work. It is all due to teamwork.”

Impressed by his continued service to the community, the Wellington Public Safety Committee recently chose Delia for Wellington’s 2018 Top Cop Award.

“I am honored to receive this award, yet while one person is recognized, I work with a unit,” he said. “I work in the property theft unit with detectives Sue Reed, Bill McKenna and David Murray, and I’m supervised by Sgt. Mike Kennedy and our Lt. Eli Shaivitz. I appreciate that I can access up the chain of command when needed.”

Shaivitz described Delia as being a well-qualified officer, having been employed by the PBSO in District 8 for more than 10 years and having served on the detective bureau for approximately eight months. He noted that Delia is a juvenile expert and works with numerous districts in educating deputies on juvenile procedure and paperwork.

Shaivitz added that Delia has earned retirement when he is ready for it, having served in law enforcement for 38 years.

Perhaps one day, but not today, Delia explained.

“One of the biggest reasons I keep putting my retirement off is that I love working with positively motivated people and creating successful outcomes,” he said. “It would be a very difficult thing for me to stop doing.”

Married with two adult sons, Delia has worked in the road patrol, community policing and street crimes units and is presently assigned to the detective unit.

“I have tended to develop an expertise in juvenile work. I work with young people who are in crisis, sometimes not making the best choices,” Delia said. “I try very hard to make an impact on them and turn them back to the positive.”

Delia likes to instill a positive attitude in the people he comes into contact with, adding that he often learns something from them.

Delia is proud to have raised his family in Wellington. “My children went to school here,” he said. “I love Wellington. Having lived in a big city, I love the beauty of Wellington. That’s why I choose to live here, and I choose to work here. It is a great, responsive community, and it has a small-town atmosphere with big city services.”

He can’t see himself living anywhere else. “I love being part of the community,” Delia said. “Wellington gives you every opportunity to take part in the community.”

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EMS Capt. Tom Dalman Is Proud Of His Unique, Dual-Job Career

EMS Capt. Tom Dalman Is Proud Of His Unique, Dual-Job Career

When asked, many youngsters might say they want to grow up to be a firefighter or a police officer — 42-year old Tom Dalman is an example of a someone who grew up to be both.

The 18-year veteran of Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue had served his entire career with the department. He is now a “floating” emergency medical services (EMS) captain on “C” shift, covering for other captains who are on leave, and he is also a member of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

Dalman said that he enjoys doing something he loves, particularly working in EMS, which has made possible his second career with the PBSO.

“Working through fire-rescue has afforded me the ability to be on the SWAT team with the sheriff’s office and provide tactical medicine to any squad member who may succumb to any injuries, so I’m a police officer as well,” he explained, expressing his pride in working in both capacities. “It’s a real honor.”

Starting off as a firefighter/EMT at the turn of the 21st century, Dalman worked his way up through the ranks to firefighter/paramedic then to a driver operator.

After that, he was promoted to captain, and later again promoted to EMS captain. He is currently studying for the battalion chief’s test.

“I am very proud of being able to say that I worked myself up through the ranks,” Dalman explained. “I worked in all the positions.”

Dalman said that it’s a great sense of pride when you study hard and get promoted and know all the aspects of a job description, and then move on to the next position and develop proficiency and expertise in that new position.

“It makes you more well-rounded as an employee for the fire-rescue department, and that’s what Wellington residents deserve,” he said.

In his current position, Dalman’s job is to be present at the scene of critical incidents in a supervisory role and to shepherd the response to the situation as requirements dictate.

“I supervise and oversee any critical incident — whether it be a major medical call and that could include cardiac arrest, any type of major trauma-related incident such as a shooting, stabbing or a car accident — where an advanced level of supervision is required,” explained Dalman, who went on to say that he is authorized to carry and administer certain advanced medications that the regular fire-rescue trucks don’t carry.

In such difficult situations, things often do not end happily. However, the expertise of Dalman and his team can mean the difference between life and death. When things go well, the job is very satisfying, he said.

“When you’re dealing with a critical patient, you use critical thinking skills [to help], and then that patient has a positive outcome — that’s always the most satisfying,” Dalman said. “When the patient has walked out of the hospital and has been reunited with their loved ones.”

Dalman, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native, has been posted in Wellington at PBCFR Station 25 on Wellington Trace for the past 11 years. He is married, and he and his wife have three children: Abigail, age 11; Thomas, age 10; and Michael, who is 10 months old.

Dalman said that he likes the hometown feeling of Wellington, and he appreciates living and working in the same community.

“It’s a diverse community. I like the churches and that everything we need is right here — the mall’s right across the street. It’s a great place to raise our family,” he said. “I feel very blessed and fortunate to raise our kids here in Wellington.”

Active in Christ Fellowship Church, Dalman works on “feed the homeless” campaigns. “We help providing meals in our community and for less fortunate countries, so the homeless here in our area as well as overseas can benefit,” Dalman explained.

Dalman and his sister and brother and family provide a college scholarship fund through a family organization called Dalaro, an acronym of his and his brother-in-law’s last names.

The scholarship benefits someone who is less fortunate and would not be able to otherwise afford a college education. “It provides the means for a less fortunate person to attend college,” said Dalman, a graduate of Palm Beach State College.

When it comes to hobbies and outside activities, Dalman said that raising his family is a hobby and plenty of activity in and of itself, but that he enjoys physical activities involving his family. When not on the job, Dalman likes just enjoying time off with his family and raising his young children.

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Wellington Community Foundation Honors In Ken And Arle Adams Naming New Scholarship

Wellington Community Foundation Honors In Ken And Arle Adams Naming New Scholarship

Wellington The Magazine’s “Salute To Our Heroes” issue can feature many amazing people, yet most will agree that it is hard to think of Wellington without thinking of our pioneers, such as Ken and Arle Adams.

The Wellington Community Foundation is going to ensure that their legacy lives on by naming the Wellington Community Foundation’s first scholarship program the “Ken and Arle Adams Scholarship” in honor of all they have contributed to the village.

Ken proudly served his country in the United States Air Force and was recently honored at the Village of Wellington’s Memorial Day ceremony, held in conjunction with the American Legion Chris Reyka Memorial Post 390 on Monday, May 28. Ken could be seen in his Air Force uniform where he proudly stood during the solemn ceremony.

Ken and Arle Adams made Wellington their home in 1978, back when the fledgling community was just getting started. They introduced their hobbies of horses and fox hounds, and eventually started a fox hunt in the Binks Forest area, named in honor of Ken’s good friend A.W. “Bink” Glisson, another key Wellington pioneer responsible for New York accounting magnate C. Oliver Wellington’s decision to buy the land in the 1950s. Ken is well known for helping to name many of the streets here in Wellington, including coming up with the “Binks Forest” nickname for the area that was once their fox hunting grounds.

Glisson spearheaded the creation of the Acme Improvement District, Wellington’s pre-incorporation government, and then managed the land for the Wellington family for decades. It was a conversation with Glisson that would change the trajectory of Ken’s life, from a retirement of fox hunting to a career in politics. This eventually landed him with a seat on the Palm Beach County Commission during the boom years of the 1980s. Ken later became a key advocate for Wellington’s incorporation.

With one eye on the budget and the other eye on the future, Ken wanted to make sure that Wellington was in control of its own destiny. In 1995, with a unanimous vote of the Florida Legislature, Wellington’s incorporation bill passed and was later approved by a voter referendum. Ken is often quoted as saying that this was one of his proudest moments, along with everyone else who participated in making it happen.

Not only was Ken involved in writing Wellington’s original charter, in 2014, he came out of retirement to help lead Wellington’s efforts to update the document. Protections for Wellington’s unique Equestrian Preserve Area were always near and dear to his heart.

Ken also had the vision to build a unique business center, today known as the Lake Wellington Professional Centre, which he later sold to the Village of Wellington for $5 million, donating back to the village $1 million of that for future projects.

Ken’s service to community far outreached all business, political or developer thresholds in his long and successful career. Ken truly believes that Wellington has accomplished great things because of the great people and great leaders who care deeply and continue to do things for their children and their children’s children.

When the Wellington Community Foundation became a privately functioning nonprofit organization benefiting the seniors, children and veterans of Wellington, the board of directors immediately thought to invite Ken to take a seat on the board, and without hesitation, Ken jumped right in. Although in recent months, Ken has moved to a board member emeritus status, it is with great honor that the foundation has developed a scholarship in both his name and the name of his beloved late wife.

The Ken and Arle Adams Scholarship will look to serve those in need who can benefit by a hand up in creating tomorrow’s leaders, to which Ken and Arle would be very proud.

In 2019, the foundation will be scouting for individuals that fit the criteria, accepting applications and awarding the first of many future scholarships in their honor.

For more information on how to become involved or make a donation to the Ken and Arle Adams Scholarship program, call (561) 333-9843 or visit www.wellingtoncommunity

foundation.org.  

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Wellington Rotary To Host Sept. 8 Race To Benefit First Responders Race For The Red And Blue RACE FOR THE RED AND BLUE

Wellington Rotary To Host Sept. 8 Race To Benefit First Responders Race For The Red And Blue RACE FOR THE RED AND BLUE

Each September, our country is reminded of the devastation that changed our world forever on 9/11. As a way of remembering all the first responders of 9/11, as well as honor those who protect us daily here in Palm Beach County, the Rotary Club of Wellington is calling for runners and walkers of all ages to take part in the inaugural “Race for the Red and Blue First Responders 5K” on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 a.m. at the Wellington Amphitheater.

“These first responders go out every day, never knowing if they’ll come home or not, or what they’ll be facing,” Rotarian and race organizer Larry Kemp said. “On 9/11, firefighters went running toward the flames and smoke while everyone was running away. So, it’s an honor for us to do this.”

The race, previously known as the Jeff Annas Memorial 5K, in honor of a fallen Palm Beach County paramedic, attracted as many as 1,000 runners.

“The Jeff Annas race was one of the biggest 5K races in South Florida. We want to take it back to that and make it even bigger,” Kemp said. “I’m not sure we’ll do that this year, because the runners don’t know us yet, but we’re hopeful.”

The Rotary Club of Wellington has been getting the word out across Palm Beach County.

“We’re expecting a crowd of 500 to 700 people for our first year,” said Dr. Jonathan Chung, another Rotarian who is joining Kemp as a race organizer. “We’re doing everything in our power to meet their standards.”

There will be age group awards from over 18 to 70 and up.

“We’ll have some really high-quality finishers’ medals,” Chung said. “No matter where you finish the race, you’re going to get a really nice medal. Our top finishers for the top three racers are going to have a pretty sizable trophy to take home with them.”

There’s also a division for 18 and under, so kids are able to race if they want to. Pre-registration is ongoing through Friday, Sept. 7. It’s $40 for adults and $30 for participants under 18. Registration will be accepted on race day, but the price will go up $5.

For those who have children, but no sitter — no problem. There will be the “kids corral,” which opens at 6:30 a.m. inside the Wellington Community Center to provide childcare. There will be games, movies and kid-friendly food. No registration is required.

“They can drop off the kids, go run the race and be back, and the kids will be in good hands.” Chung said.

The race route starts at the Wellington Amphitheater, heads out to South Shore Blvd., will take a path down South Shore and loop back around toward the amphitheater again.

“It’s a fast course, because it’s going to be pretty much on all open road,” Chung said. “It’s going to shut down South Shore for the race.”

The event will be a professionally timed race. “It’s certified as a legitimate 5K course, and runners can mark their time with a great deal of accuracy, as we’re using the AccuChip company as our partner,” Chung said.

There will be a presence from both the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, with PBSO motorcycles leading the way, as well as fire trucks and ambulances. Some first responders even run in their gear, as many do across the nation in honor of 9/11.

The Rotary Club of Wellington secured a number of sponsors and hopes to raise as much as $40,000 to support local first responders in the PBSO and PBCFR, as well as several Wellington Rotary charities.

“I’ve been a first responder in Palm Beach County for 30 years, and I’m always humbled and blessed to serve the citizens of the Palm Beach County,” PBCFR Division Chief Richard Ellis said. “It always makes me feel good personally when other organizations, agencies or individuals reach out and give us support. It means a lot.”

The agency plans to use the money it gets toward its Fire-Rescue Cadet Program.

“It’s a way for younger kids to really get engaged in the fire department at a young age from eighth grade all the way up to senior in high school,” Ellis explained. “They get exposed, ride on the fire trucks and get to learn some of our procedures. So, the money will be used to help purchase them gear and all the things they may need.”

PBSO Chief Deputy Michael Gauger said his agency is extremely appreciative of all the work that the Wellington Rotary does for the community, including the PBSO.

“We have a lot of support in the community. People continuously go out of their way to help law enforcement and fire-rescue,” Gauger said. “Money raised will go to the Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation, which helps officers who are injured or killed in the line of duty.”

Helping to raise that money are many sponsors, including: Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, the Winter Equestrian Festival/Bellissimo Family, Palms West Hospital, the South Florida Fair, the original Wellington Mall, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, Medivalue, MedExpress, Oil Change Services, Florida Public Utilities, Premier Family Health, Caregiver Services, ESPN 106.3 FM, Florida Crystals, Retreat of the Palm Beaches, Grand Champions Polo Club/Ganzi Family, Jess Santamaria, the Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute, and Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith.

Kemp began securing sponsorships in April, and he is still working to reach the fundraising goal for the two agencies. “We’re lucky we have them out there doing what they do for us,” he said.

Chung added that it is very important to recognize local first responders. “The people doing this job — they aren’t doing it for praise,” he said. “They’re doing it because it’s something they believe in and they hold with high value. Even if they don’t want the praise… we’re going to give it to them anyway.”

For race and sponsorship information, visit www.wellington5k.com.

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Amelia Forem Honored As District’s Beginning Teacher Of The Year

Amelia Forem Honored As District’s Beginning
Teacher Of The Year

Wellington is well-known for its A-rated schools. Because of this, young families seek out the community, and school administrators aim to hire and retain the best educators out there. Among them is Amelia Forem, recently named Beginning Teacher of the Year at the secondary level by the School District of Palm Beach County.

The award is presented annually to outstanding first-year teachers at the elementary and secondary levels, who have been recommended by their principal for demonstrating excellence.

Wellington Landings Middle School was the first school to call Forem in for an interview.

“Ms. [Blake] Bennett, the principal, is amazing, and she offered me a job at the interview,” Forem recalled. “I couldn’t say no to a job at a such a great school.”

A Broward County native, Forem teaches seventh-grade science. “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in second grade, and I’ve always loved science,” she explained.

Forem holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida State University, and a master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University. She has minors in chemistry and psychology and has taken a few physics classes.

“Biology helps me to know the subject content and enables me to answer any of the crazy questions that the students throw at me, like, ‘What do starfish eat?’” she said.

Even though things can be tough for a first-year teacher, Forem rose to the challenge.

“I liked really getting into teaching,” she said. “I spent so long learning about it that it was fun to be on the other end and immerse myself in the nitty-gritty details. At Wellington Landings, the students are a different breed of kid. They are so well-behaved, so inquisitive — it makes it nice to be a teacher. It gets monotonous if you’re just up there talking all the time. When they’re asking questions, that’s when you’re able to have a little fun.”

Not that there weren’t challenges.

“What many people don’t understand, and even I didn’t understand from my student teaching, is what it takes to keep up,” Forem said. “There are meetings, parent conferences, grading, training, more meetings and a lot of other stuff. That was the challenging part.”

Testing is a key factor in teaching today, but Forem has been able to go over the required material while also keeping up with everything else in the classroom.

“We do a lot of standardized testing,” she said. “There’s a big push for it these days. County, state and diagnostic — those are the three big tests, and it’s continuous throughout the school year. There are definitely a lot, but the standardized testing does give us a goal to aim for. It tells us that the kids need to know this information. But I didn’t seem to have too much trouble fitting in all the material they needed to know, in between all the testing.”

Forem, 25, said that social media has changed everyone’s game — students and teachers alike.

“The kids are all about social media in a different way than my generation was,” she said. “It seems insane, because I’m only a little over 10 years older than they are.”

Many are into cell phones and video games, and spelling can be an issue, since auto-correct is always there to help. They also use more slang terms and are influenced by many celebrities.

“On one hand, it makes it easier to connect with them,” Forem said. “The game Fortnight is the biggest thing with them now. My boyfriend has been playing it for months, so I was able to connect a lot of the things we were learning to the game. Luckily, Ms. Bennett has a strict ‘no cellphone’ policy, so I don’t have to fight for their attention. At home, it’s hard for them to focus. It’s definitely a different generation. That said, they’re more connected to their parents than even I was when I was a kid.”

Technology, however, is also helping teachers up their game.

“I think the increase in technologically savvy students has helped a lot of the teachers,” Forem said. “We have one teacher on our seventh-grade science team who uses computers for everything. The kids respond very well to it. If they have a question, they can just look up the answer immediately. Computers also give a lot of feedback to the teachers. If Bobby only got 5 of the 10 questions right, you know you need to work with him. If Alice got 10 out of 10 correct, you know she’s got it. You also know not to continue teaching with a method that didn’t work.”

With her award, Forem received a certificate, a Citizen watch and a $350 grant. Aside from her family, she gives a lot of credit for the award to her principal, the administrators and her team.

“I wouldn’t have excelled at any other school with any other principal,” Forem said. “Ms. Bennett is so hands-on. She shows us what to do and how to do it. She also has a great open-door policy that has created an atmosphere at the school that makes it very conducive to teaching.”

Another key to her success was getting her master’s degree at FAU.

“As much as I wanted to, I don’t think I would’ve gotten the same education at Florida State for my master’s,” Forem said. “I just wouldn’t have had the same hands-on learning with Palm Beach County children that I got at FAU. I planned on coming home to teach, so FAU was the perfect choice.”

Forem is already looking forward to next year. “I think next year will be easier,” she said. “I’m hoping to have a little bit better handle on the class and the material. Even with my biology degree and those minors, there were still some things I had to look up. Now I know the material, how to plan and how to organize the class. I’m also moving to a real science classroom next year, which will make it easier to do labs. The teachers on my team were such a big help to me my first year. I do not think I would’ve made it without them.”

The Wellington Landings Middle School seventh-grade science team includes Forem, Meredith Byham, Sean Streed and Eric Patino. As for Forem, she wants only one thing as a teacher: “I’m hoping to keep getting better, and for my students to keep getting better,” she said.

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Student Artists Show How To Make Every Drop Count

Student Artists Show How To Make
Every Drop Count

South Florida is surrounded by water. And with summer, comes the rainy season. But while it’s one of the wettest areas of the country, with more than 50 inches of rainfall a year, there’s always the danger of drought conditions.

Conserving our water supply year-round is key, and elementary and middle school students in Wellington and across the state are being recognized for turning their water conservation ideas into award-winning works of art through the Drop Savers poster contest.

“This is an educational component of our water conservation effort,” Wellington Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque explained.

The Drop Savers poster contest is an effort by the Florida Statewide American Waterworks Association. Students are encouraged to create posters depicting water conservation and awareness.

A panel of judges base the winners on message, creativity and originality. First-place winners move up to the state level of the competition. In all, 195 students from four local schools participated this spring. Eight of the winners were from Panther Run Elementary School and Wellington Landings Middle School. The Wellington Village Council recognized them in March, while the posters helped promote April as Water Conservation Month.

“It’s starting that education at a young age, so it becomes habitual through life,” LaRocque said.

Last year was the first time that Wellington participated in the contest. Then a third-grader, Grace Bostwick from Panther Run won at the state level. Her artwork is now part of a special calendar.

This year, five students from Panther Run took top honors at the local level.

At the elementary level, fourth-grader Gabriella Pedicino took first place in Division 3, which is comprised of fourth-grades and fifth-graders. Paige Albert, a fifth-grader, took second. Returning first-place contest winner Lauren Allen, a fifth-grader, took third this time.

In Division 2, which encompasses students in second and third grades, Maibelin Fernandez, a second-grader at Panther Run, took second place, while Wilmide Derastel, a third-grader, won first place in her division.

“I drew a water drop that’s sad,” Derastel explained. “The letters are dry with no water, like land. I think water makes the world a better place to live in, because we use water for many things. If you waste less water, it’ll make the world a better place.”

That’s a lesson that’s close to the heart of her mother, Fabiola Gene. Gene is from Haiti, where she said clean drinking water is hard to come by.

“You see kids drinking dirty water. It’s sad. I remind my daughter not to waste water,” Gene said.

Panther Run has been recognized as a “Green School of Quality” for two years in a row for its conservation efforts. Principal Edilia De La Vega said that the school puts a big focus on teaching students about conservation and taking care of the environment. It also has Earth Club lead by teacher Tracy LaBrosse, the school’s “green ambassador.”

“One of the things we added this year, because of an abundance of water bottles coming on campus, is refillable water stations into the water fountains,” De La Vega said. “That was a wonderful resource, as well as to teach the kids the importance of refilling their water bottles, and not just using and getting rid of plastic ones.”

The school has two water stations. One in the cafeteria and one outside. “When they go out to PE, they always have their water, so they can refill it right there, and it’s filtered,” she said.

Wellington Landings Middle School is also working hard to teach the importance of conservation with separate recycling bins throughout the campus.

“I think the number-one thing this generation needs to focus on is conservation of water, our environment and making sure that we’re not being wasteful,” Principal Blake Bennett said. “We do a recycling program with bins and community-based instruction for students in our self-contained special education program. Students in the program are in charge of recycling and picking up recycling bins.”

Blake said that she is very proud of her school’s three students who placed in the Drop Savers contest for Division 4, which is comprised of sixth-graders through eighth-graders, including Deseray Johnson, an eighth-grader who placed first. Another eighth-grader, Lilly Paulitz, came in second place, while sixth grader Ciana Han placed third.

“I drew ways to save water inside droplets. Like short showers and planting plants that don’t require a lot of water,” Han said. “I pay more attention now, and I’m more aware of our water and not wasting it.”

All eight local winners attribute their art teachers for inspiring them. Art teacher Lyda Barrera, who just retired from Panther Run, and Ashlan Sheesley from Wellington Landings, both guided the students on their art posters for this contest, where the primary goal was making water conservation a way of life.

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Information Technology Among Choice Programs At Wellington Middle Schools

Information Technology Among Choice Programs At Wellington Middle Schools

The School District of Palm Beach County is an A-rated district committed to providing students a world-class education — and for more than 50,000 students, that means participating in the impressive array of choice and career programs.

Throughout their school careers, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in relevant career-oriented classes, custom-tailoring their education to their future career paths in the performing and visual arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), the International Baccalaureate program, JROTC, dual language and more.

The school district features a 90 percent graduation rate, and that rate approaches nearly 100 percent for students in choice programs. Students self-select the programs that interest them, with eligibility criteria that may be based on grades and a lottery process. Enrollees in the programs must maintain a minimum grade point average in order to remain with the track.

Several choice academies are located in Wellington’s middle schools. All three — Emerald Cove, Polo Park and Wellington Landings — offer the popular pre-information technology program. Wellington Landings also offers a fine arts choice program, while Polo Park also features pre-engineering.

Students enrolled in the pre-information technology program are exposed to a variety of different IT and computer-science-related concepts in grades six through eight, including: project management and job-readiness skills, computers and logic, web development, design, HTML coding, CSS and JavaScript, cloud computing and social networking.

The pre-information technology programs also allow for middle school students to earn industry certifications. Approximately 90 percent of district middle school students taking one of two exams earn the industry certification.

Students are able to distinguish themselves by successfully obtaining these industry certifications that can be added to their resume for work, college applications and career readiness, explained Dr. Jeraline Johnson, director of choice and career options programs for the school district.

The academies provide a variety of hands-on learning experiences that meet student interests and engage them in preparation for college and career with opportunities for job shadowing, internships, project-based learning and on-the-job training. Students can also participate in various clubs and organizations that provide even more hands-on activities and competition, Johnson added.

Johnson said that the benefits of participation in the program courses include improved academic achievement and increased scholarship opportunities; higher attendance and graduation rates; greater parental and community involvement; specialized teaching staff providing themed-based education; and advanced technical training for career readiness and success.

Sandra Wesson, manager of choice programs for the school district, said that succeeding in a choice program is often a marker for future success.

“Students in Palm Beach County have equitable opportunities to participate in one of more than 300 choice and career programs that meet their interests, best prepare them for making informed decisions leading to future success in both college and career, and encourage them to be contributing members of their communities,” she said.

About 90 students participate in the pre-information technology choice program at Emerald Cove Middle School each semester, Principal Dr. Eugina Smith Feaman said.

“In the program, students matriculate through three pre-IT elective classes,” Feaman said. “This includes Information & Communication Technology Essentials in sixth grade, which introduces students to computer science as a vehicle for problem solving, communication and personal expression. It focuses on the visible aspects of computing and computer science, and encourages students to see where computer science exists around them and how they can engage with it as a tool for exploration and expression.”

In the seventh grade, the students learn the Fundamentals of Web Design and Software, and in eighth grade, they take the Emerging Technologies Course, which prepares them for Computer for College and Careers (CCC) course taught on the high school level, Feaman added.

Students learn digital literacy, which includes proficiency with computers in the exploration and utilization of databases, the internet, spreadsheets, presentations, applications, management of personal information and e-mail, word processing, document manipulation, and the integration of these programs using software that meets industry standards.

At Emerald Cove, completing the program often leads the students to matriculate into Palm Beach Central High School’s Web & Digital Design Academy, Feaman explained.

Craig Corsentino is in charge of the two choice programs at Polo Park Middle School. The pre-information technology and the pre-engineering programs each have about 150 students.

“We chose to do these two programs because we want our students to be prepared for the future. Information technology and engineering careers are currently expanding and are expected to continue to do so in the next 20 years,” Corsentino said. “The pre-information technology program is a computer-based program where students will learn how to code, work with apps and learn about the different careers and technologies that will exist in the future.”

The pre-engineering program, meanwhile, is a hands-on program that allows students to explore several different aspects of engineering, from aerospace to science in technology.

“Students love both programs and enjoy utilizing the different technologies that Polo Park has to offer, from our 3-D printer to our drones, robots and much more,” Corsentino said. “Many of our students go on to succeed at Palm Beach Central, Wellington, Suncoast and many of the other fantastic high schools that our district has to offer.”

Wellington Landings Middle School Principal Blake Bennett has found that the pre-information technology students are very engaged in the subject matter.

“Students love the classes and are excited to earn industry certifications,” she said. “We also add in pieces like Photoshop, robotics, etc., and the students love learning those tools and applications.”

Bennett is also proud that her school offers more high school credit classes than any other middle school in the county.

“The pre-information technology academy offers an innovative learning environment focused on computers, technology and communications over the course of three years,” Bennett said. “The sixth-grade year is a semester course designed to help students develop speed and accuracy by learning the touch operation of alphanumeric/keyboard characters. Students will also get a basic understanding of word processing using the Microsoft Word software program.”

Bennett continued that the seventh-grade class is a full-year course with an emphasis on web design. Students in this class have the opportunity to earn the CIW Site Design Associate certification. “In the eighth grade, academy students will take a high school credit, year-long course that teaches foundational knowledge of web technology used throughout the business world,” Bennett said.

The majority of graduates have indicated that the school district’s choice programs are positive experiences that prepared them for their future goals, with many indicating that they plan to pursue employment or post-secondary studies directly related to the area of study they were enrolled in.

For additional information about these programs, visit www.palmbeachschools.org/choiceprograms or contact the schools individually.

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