Recent Grads Are Ready To Serve

Recent Grads Are Ready To Serve Twins Ryan And Reid Snider Are Both Headed To National Military Service Academies

Story by Mike May  |  Photos by Frank Koester

Wellington’s Ryan and Reid Snider have the distinct and fairly rare honor of being twins both headed off to highly selective national military service academies.

For the last 18 years, Diana and Dan Snider of Wellington and their twin sons have lived a life where the boys attended the same public schools and usually participated in the same activities. Now, life is changing. The two boys will remain united as brothers, but Ryan and Reid have decided to divide and conquer, as a way of furthering their education while patriotically serving and defending the nation.

After graduating from Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, May 17 — where Ryan was class valedictorian and Reid was ranked 13th among his 735 peers — both boys became focused on the next chapter of their lives, which have existed in lockstep with one another since birth.

Both Ryan and Reid are ambitious, athletic, creative, patriotic, smart, talented and are college-bound, but now they are headed in differing directions. Ryan is heading west to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while Reid is going north to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

These ambitious young men from Wellington are not content to simply attend and graduate from their respective service academies. They want to excel and grow in their new environments.

“I will pursue a dual major in astronautical and aerospace engineering,” Ryan said. “My goal is to be a pilot and fly F22s, one of the most advanced stealth fighters in history. But I also want to use my experience and engineering knowledge to build the next generation of air and spacecraft.”

His brother also has an interest in engineering with big dreams.

“I plan to major in mechanical engineering with a specialization in astronautical engineering,” Reid said. “I am also interested in studying law and political science. In addition, I want to work with NASA, be an astronaut and go to Mars.”

The Snider boys will remain united as a family, but for the first time will be divided, geographically.

“We are always under the same sky with the same stars,” said Ryan, the older of the two boys by one minute, as both were born at the Wellington Regional Medical Center in December 2005.

The idea that both boys would pursue a military education and lifestyle is not a surprise, but it was not expected, either. “Two of the boys’ uncles served in the Air Force, their paternal grandfather was in the Army, and their paternal great-grandfather was in the Navy,” their mother Diana explained. “They, and we, are honored at the opportunity for each of our boys to be nominated and selected for these elite service academies.”

While Ryan and Reid are thrilled to be headed off to their service academies, they previously thought that their collegiate home would be in Gainesville, Florida.

“Our parents had done Florida Prepaid, and so our goal, before getting the service academy e-mails, was to get into the University of Florida,” Ryan said. “Throughout our application process to the service academies, we still applied to UF. But, crazy enough, UF was our backup school. In addition to our military appointments, both of us received our acceptance into UF.”

“I grew up as a huge Florida Gator fan, bleeding orange and blue,” added Reid, who was accepted into UF’s Honors College. “I always wanted to attend the University of Florida.”

Even though Ryan and Reid will be going their separate ways, they almost went to the same service academy. Soon after taking their PSAT as sophomores in high school, both boys received an informational e-mail from West Point.

“That stopped us in our tracks,” Diana recalled. “We talked about West Point and began looking up information on the other service academies. The boys became so interested that we took a family road trip to West Point in June 2022 following their sophomore year of high school. In August of that year, our family of four flew out to Colorado to visit the Air Force Academy.”

According to Diana, both boys researched and decided that they were interested in both West Point and the Air Force Academy. They applied for the summer leadership program at both academies and were accepted to both.

So, during the first week of June 2023, after their junior year at Palm Beach Central, they flew to West Point together for an intense week-long experience. They flew home at the end of the week, unpacked, washed clothes, repacked and flew to Colorado for another several days at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s program.

“We knew they would either love it or hate it,” Diana said.

Not surprisingly, they both loved the leadership programs, but Ryan preferred the Air Force Academy, while Reid really liked what was offered at West Point.

“Separately, they focused on their application packets, secured their nominations, and completed all necessary physical and academic requirements,” Diana added.

To get accepted into a military service academy, a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate must also sign-off on your application.

For Ryan, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott approved his application, while U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel approved Reid’s paperwork.

Ryan will report to Colorado Springs on June 26, while Reid must report to West Point a few days later, on July 1.

Between now and then, Ryan and Reid will focus on improving their physical fitness. Both noted that their daily lives are now filled with running, lifting weights, and doing lots of calisthenics such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups.

After graduating from the service academies, they are committed to a minimum of five years of active-duty service, followed by at least three years in the reserves, but both boys predict long careers with their respective military disciplines.

While both boys are excited about their immediate futures, they agree that they’ll miss the creature comforts of home, especially their mother’s cooking.

“I’m really going to miss mom’s really good quesadillas,” Ryan said.

“And I’m going to miss eating mom’s cakes, fudge and cookies,” Reid added.

Their parents know that life for them will be different, too.

“It will be very quiet,” Diana said. “But there will be many trips to both Colorado and New York for parents’ weekend, and other opportunities to spend time with our boys.”

Meanwhile, Diana knows that it’s time to let her sons pursue their dreams.

“We know that we have raised them to work hard, focus on their goals, add value to others and positively impact our world,” she said. “We trust that they are on track to do just that. We are honored to get to watch them continue to grow into amazing men.”

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Riding Toward Excellence

Riding Toward Excellence The Equestrian Program At American Heritage Provides A Unique Educational Experience

By Stephanie D. Concepción

Nestled amid the vibrant equestrian community in Palm Beach County, the Equestrian Program at American Heritage Schools (AHS) stands as a beacon of academic excellence and equestrian prestige.

Located just minutes from world-class equestrian facilities like the Wellington International showgrounds, the Global Dressage Festival grounds and the National Polo Center-Wellington, the school offers unparalleled access to premier riding venues.

The program, established in 2011, boasts award-winning riders who have consistently excelled, placing in the top five at Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) competitions and ranking in the top 10 nationally. These talented equestrians have also performed internationally, such as representing the United States in the North American Youth Championships (NAYC), where they secured a top 10 placing.

This unique program offers a balance of academics and equestrian training for riders from kindergarten to college, inclusive of all grade levels.

Lower School students, from kindergarten through grade five, can enroll in the Junior Equestrian Program. Beginning in sixth grade, students can train at team barns.

This early engagement provides opportunities for after-school lessons at nationally recognized barns and training programs, fostering a love for riding from an early age. For students in grades seven through 12, AHS hosts two IEA teams that provide a competitive platform and foster a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork.

“We started with two students and now have over 35 families, several of which have come from other countries specifically for the program at American Heritage, as well as the experience of riding, training and competing in Wellington,” said Cynthia Screnci, director of the Equestrian Program, reflecting on the program’s growth and international appeal.

Students can pursue their equestrian goals at AHS while receiving a superior education. American Heritage offers six pre-professional programs in biomedical engineering, business, computer science, engineering, law and medicine. Each program is taught daily by professionals in their respective fields with unique classes that rival those of any Ivy League school.

Senior Sophia Masnikoff, a National Merit Semifinalist and a graduate of the school’s pre-law program, highlights these unique benefits.

“Going to a school like American Heritage fosters all aspects of my educational and athletic goals,” she said. “The school is rigorous, which fuels my passion for learning, while also accommodating my schedule, and my time as co-captain of the American Heritage Equestrian Team furthered my love of the sport; building teamwork skills used in everyday life. It provided me the platform to thrive in my riding and academics.”

Senior Anaïs Dufresne Powell, a graduate of the pre-medical program and also a National Merit Semifinalist, exemplifies the program’s success. Accepted into prestigious universities such as UCLA, Bryn Mawr and Wellesley College, Powell balances her academic excellence and award-winning photography pursuits with her passion for equestrian sports, showcasing the effectiveness of the school’s holistic approach.

American Heritage recognizes the unique demands placed on competitive equestrian athletes and offers flexible policies for equestrian-related absences. High school students can earn physical education credits based on their training schedule, further integrating their equestrian activities with their academic pursuits. The school day schedule accommodates academic and equestrian commitments, including free transportation to various barns in Wellington for training.

Mia Green, a junior who balances rigorous academics with her competitive riding schedule, emphasizes the school’s supportive environment.

“American Heritage teachers are very accommodating when it comes to giving us the ability to pursue both our equestrian goals and keeping up with academics,” she said.

Green’s dedication extends beyond her achievements. As one of the founders of Forget Me Not Farm’s Home for Peculiar Animals, a nonprofit animal rescue, she exemplifies the school’s emphasis on community service and leadership.

At American Heritage, young equestrians are not just athletes, they are scholars, leaders and compassionate individuals ready to make a mark on the world. By providing a superior college preparatory education alongside world-class equestrian opportunities, AHS ensures that its students are prepared for success, in the arena and beyond.

American Heritage Schools is ranked the No. 1 K-12 Private School in Florida, according to Niche.com, with two campuses in Broward and Palm Beach counties, serving approximately 4,800 students in PK3 through grade 12. AHS has ranked as the top high school in Florida for the highest number of National Merit Scholars for 14 years, as well as the top school in Florida for the most Presidential Scholars.

AHS campuses are open all year and provide an extensive Summer Program for children ages 3 to 17 from June to August. The offerings include traditional day camps, specialty and sports camps, one-on-one tutoring, and the Summer Institute offers more than 100 in-person and online courses designed for every student’s interest. The comprehensive summer enrichment gives students a competitive advantage to succeed in the next school year.

American Heritage Schools’ Palm Beach campus is located at 6200 Linton Blvd. Learn more about AHS’s unique Equestrian Program at www.ahschool.com/equestrian-program.

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Foundation Recognizes Outstanding Scholar

Foundation Recognizes Outstanding Scholars Wellington Community Foundation Awards $4,500 To Three 2024 Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship Recipients

By Shannon Anastasio

On Tuesday, May 21, amid the melodic tunes at Village Music Café, the Wellington Community Foundation presented the prestigious Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship to three exceptional members of the Class of 2024: Rachel Ireland, Jaden Browning and Sophia Amro Gazze. These remarkable students have demonstrated outstanding dedication, leadership and commitment to their community, embodying the spirit of service cherished by Arle and Ken Adams.

The Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship holds a special place in the heart of Wellington, named in honor of a pioneering couple, whose unwavering dedication and service to the community have left an indelible mark. Ken Adams, a former Palm Beach County commissioner, was a firm believer in the power of community and the importance of nurturing future leaders. When the Wellington Community Foundation established its scholarship program, it was only fitting to immortalize the Adams’ legacy by naming it after them.

Their tireless advocacy for the community led to remarkable achievements, and Ken’s involvement with the foundation further solidified the couple’s dedication to Wellington’s seniors, children and veterans. Although Ken Adams passed away in 2020, following his wife in 2017, their spirit lives on through the scholarship that bears their name. The Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship seeks to uplift future leaders, fostering better tomorrows. The 2024 recipients exemplify the values championed by the Adamses, displaying exceptional promise and a strong commitment to making a positive community impact.

Rachel Ireland, a student at Wellington High School, has been recognized for her exceptional academic performance and dedication to community service. With a GPA of 5.007, Ireland has demonstrated her passion for biological science and research. Her involvement in the National Honor Society, the Music Honor Society, the American Sign Language Honor Society and theater, where she choreographed the school musical Mamma Mia!, reflects her commitment to both academics and the arts. Her future aspirations lie in the field of genetics and molecular biology, where she hopes to make significant contributions.

Ireland thanked the foundation’s board of directors and Scholarship Committee members James Seder, Joanna Boynton and Don Gross for honoring her with the award. “Being selected for this honor is truly humbling,” she said. “Wellington has undoubtedly prepared me for my future, from the support of my teachers at Wellington High School, to the mentorship of the physical therapist at USA Sports Medicine Wellington, who graciously took me on as an intern.”

Jaden Browning, a student at Suncoast High School, stands out for his academic excellence and commitment to community engagement. With a GPA of 5.32, he aspires to pursue a major in chemistry. His achievements in the Academic Games, along with scoring in the top one percent nationally on both the SAT and ACT, highlight his academic prowess. Outside school, Browning dedicates his time to teaching computer coding to young people and participating in various community service activities, including food bank distributions and beach cleanups. His future goals revolve around becoming a research scientist, where he aims to make impactful discoveries.

Browning shared how he worked with Wellington Community Foundation founder Tom Wenham to assist in locating other veterans in Wellington and share the inspiring Red, White & Blue Jeans “A Salute To Our Heroes” event invites.

“When I met with Mr. Wenham to see how I could help, we had wonderful discussions about his military service, his dedication to community service and how he supported veterans for years,” Browning said. “I was impressed. I really was inspired by Mr. Wenham’s commitment to service in this area.”

Sophia Amro Gazze, a student at Florida Atlantic University High School, has been recognized for her academic excellence and leadership abilities. With a GPA of 5.48, she will attend the FAU Honors College to study cellular neuroscience. Her involvement in the dual-enrollment program at FAU has allowed her to accumulate three years of college experience in high school.

As president of the Mock Trials, captain of the Science Olympiad, vice president of the Model United Nations and senior thrower on the track and field team, Gazze has exhibited exceptional leadership skills and dedication to extracurricular activities. Her future aspirations include serving as both a healer and an activist in her community, leveraging her knowledge to make a positive impact.

“This scholarship stands on a strong foundation based on leadership, servitude and the future,” Gazze said. “It is such an honor to have received this prestigious recognition and to represent a strong generation of action and positive change.”

The Wellington Community Foundation extends its heartfelt congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients. Their exemplary achievements and dedication to community service embody the values cherished by Arle and Ken Adams, and their future endeavors promise to inspire and uplift the community.

As the 2024 recipients embark on their academic journey, the Wellington Community Foundation remains steadfast in its mission of “building a stronger community.”

For those who wish to support the Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship, or become involved in WCF’s mission, learn more at www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org.

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Wellington Students Win Top Awards

Wellington Students Win Top Awards Emilia McGovern And Johnathon Bucknor Of Wellington High School Honored With Prestigious Pathfinder Scholarships

By Mike May

Two skilled, creative and industrious members of the Wellington High School Class of 2024 were honored recently as winners of the prestigious Pathfinder Scholarship Awards. Emilia McGovern won first place in the Business category, while Johnathon Bucknor won second place in the Theater Arts category.

McGovern and Bucknor are two of the more than 650 members of this year’s extremely talented crop of WHS graduates, who completed their high school careers on Monday, May 20 at a ceremony held at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

McGovern and Bucknor are already reaping the dividends of their unique skills, creativity and industrial work ethic. On Friday, May 10, both were honored at the annual Pathfinder Scholarship Awards, sponsored by the Palm Beach Post to honor the best and brightest students from across Palm Beach and Martin counties in 18 different categories.

McGovern, who will attend the University of Florida to study public relations, received a $3,000 college scholarship, while Bucknor, who has been accepted into the University of Central Florida, is the recipient of a $2,000 college scholarship. He intends to major in music and minor in theater.

The Business scholarship is awarded to students who have shown the greatest promise in the field of business, entrepreneurship or business innovation. The judging was based on the nominees’ overall academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and contributions made in their community.

The Theatre Arts scholarship is awarded to students who have shown exceptional accomplishment in drama, set/costume design, production and/or stagecraft. Judging was based on the nominees’ expertise in theater arts, overall academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and contributions made in their community.

Both appreciate the financial support from the Pathfinder program.

“I am very thankful for this scholarship,” said McGovern, 18. “It was an honor to be nominated for this scholarship, and I am grateful to the Wellington High School staff and guidance counselors for their support.”

Bucknor, 17, agreed that the opportunities and teacher support provided for him at Wellington High School are the main reasons why he has excelled in theater arts since his arrival on campus as a sophomore.

While accumulating top grades and being a four-year competitive cheerleader and a cheerleader captain during her senior year, McGovern has carved out time to help lead the DECA program at WHS, a high school program that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management through competitive and real-world experiences.

With more than 230 students, the DECA program at WHS is the largest student organization on campus. McGovern has helped plan, organize and direct events for the DECA chapter, which have positively impacted daily life in Wellington.

“She has been leading the school and the DECA chapter in the organization, planning and execution of our annual WHS Trunk or Treat, a fall holiday event for children in the community attended by more than 700 local families,” said teacher Elizabeth Newsome, the DECA advisor at WHS.

“Trunk or Treat impacted 2,000 children and is a student-run event,” noted McGovern, who oversaw the event from beginning to end.

McGovern also helped write two 20-page manuals that detail specific projects that students planned and executed for the DECA chapter, which benefited the Wellington community. Those two projects were “Learning Entrepreneurship with Lexi and Emilia” and “Act Against Allergies.” The first is a project aimed to encourage entrepreneurial abilities, growth mindsets and creativity among fourth graders in local elementary schools via weekly lessons in their classrooms. The second is project-driven through Trunk or Treat to encourage more people in Wellington to offer allergy-friendly alternatives during the Halloween season.

McGovern’s leadership at WHS also garnered the attention of Principal Cara Hayden.

“She has proven to be an asset to our school community, as well as an accomplished student who impresses me daily,” Hayden said. “It is inspiring to see Emilia’s passion as she has worked hard to bring back a sense of camaraderie to our campus following the pandemic.”

As for Bucknor, his passion for theater started when he was in the fifth grade at John Ross Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he played the role of an elf in a small student production.

“I like acting because it allows you to be different people,” Bucknor said. “You get to help the audience feel different emotions, such as fear, sadness and happiness.”

Since arriving at WHS, Bucknor has had prominent roles in many theatrical productions, such as Little Women, Don’t Fear the Reaper, Check Please, Trap and Alice by Heart. In Little Women, he had to sing in front of an audience for the first time, and in Alice by Heart, he played the role of Alfred, who dies of tuberculosis at the end of the play. “It was my first death scene,” Bucknor said.

In addition to his many on-stage roles at WHS, Bucknor has also appeared in television commercials for Church’s Chicken, Universal Studios and Old El Paso.

Bucknor’s commitment to theatrical excellence has not gone unnoticed by Cassandra Truelove, one of his theater teachers at WHS.

“Johnathon is always polite and respectful to fellow students and teachers. He writes and records his own music, as well as acting professionally in commercials and other opportunities in his ‘free’ time,” Truelove said. “Johnathon is a perfect example of a scholar and performer. He is deeply invested in his academics, as well as constantly working to improve and fine-tune his craft in acting.”

McGovern will move into her dormitory at UF on Aug. 15 with classes to start soon thereafter, while Bucknor was set to attend UCF’s orientation on May 31 and enroll in summer classes there.

Time will tell what the future holds for McGovern and Bucknor, but chances are strong that they will meet and exceed all expectations.

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Wellington Expands Senior Ride Program

Wellington Expands Senior Ride Program New Freebee Program Offers A Convenient Alternative Transportation Service For Senior Citizens From Wellington

Wellington’s new agreement with Freebee offers a more convenient transportation service for senior citizens in Wellington. Wellington’s seniors now have access to this free program, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Since 2010, the Village of Wellington has provided a limited transportation program for senior residents 62 years of age and older. In an effort to expand this program and its services, the village recently received proposals from interested firms to provide alternative transportation services using a ride-share-type system.

The ride-share transportation service includes the following: Monday through Saturday service from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. using two fully electric vehicles with unlimited rides. There is a mobile app with an option to request service via dispatch/call-in. The program offers door-to-door, on-demand service; a custom dashboard with the ability to display performance metrics in real time; and single or shared-use service.

Freebee replaced Wellington’s previous senior transportation program, which often carried around 10 people per day. Now, two Freebee cars serve between 20 and 30 people per day. The initial term of the contract began on May 1, 2024, for a three-year initial term, and provides for five one-year renewal options.

Freebee is a free electric-car service funded by the village’s Parks & Recreation Department. All rides must generally be within the village limits, but the cars will travel as far north as Southern Blvd. and as far south as Lake Worth Road. Riders must be at least 55 years old and Wellington residents.

Freebee, which was created by two University of Miami graduates, serves many municipalities in South Florida. The company calls their drivers “ambassadors” because they’re expected to be friendly, welcoming and talkative with the riders.

Riders can order a car through the Freebee app, or by calling a centralized dispatch. Unlike the popular ride-share apps Uber and Lyft, there isn’t a way to see reviews for local drivers. The app has a feature where riders can post photos and reviews, however, they aren’t specific to any driver or service area.

Wellington’s Freebee cars are Tesla Model X electric vehicles. A phone app makes calling a car similar to the procedure for Uber and Lyft, but rides are free.

“It’s convenient, it’s free, you’re having fun and smiling,” said Jason Spiegel, co-founder of the company. “We are short-distance, inter-municipality transportation that provides high ridership at a lower cost for cities because our clean-energy vehicles require less maintenance and no gas, compared to trolleys and buses or traditional car services.”

This new village transportation ride service, in partnership with Freebee, provides an increased level of service. It is a free shuttle service for Wellington residents age 55 and older offering unlimited door-to-door pick-ups and drop-offs in these new Tesla Model X vehicles.

Residents who use the program no longer need to provide the previously required 24-hour notice. Rides can be scheduled for same-day service with an average wait time of 15 minutes. Commuters also have the added flexibility of scheduling their rides up to five days in advance, ensuring that they can plan their travel with ease and reliability.

The service area includes anywhere within the Wellington municipal boundaries, as well as HCA Florida Palms West Hospital and its surrounding medical offices, as well as along State Road 7 from Southern Blvd. to Lake Worth Road. Service hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Sunday.

Residents can sign up by visiting the Wellington Community Center for a one-time registration. Be sure to bring your ID and water or utility bill. Information can also be provided via e-mail to rides@wellingtonfl.gov.

To request a ride, residents should:

  1. Call the Freebee dispatch number at (855) 918-3733 or download the Freebee App.
  2. Request a pick-up.
  3. Enjoy the free ride.

Village staff is working on targeted outreach to seniors, including current senior transportation commuters. The outreach plan includes senior workshops, pre-registration of current riders via the Freebee portal and direct mailers. Additional marketing and promotion of the service throughout Wellington will be scheduled in conjunction with Freebee’s economic development team.

To learn more about the Freebee service, visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/rides.

 

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A Minister, Politician, Columnist And More

A Minister, Politician, Columnist And More Father John Mangrum Was An Instrumental Leader In The Early Years Of The Wellington Community

Father John Mangrum — also known as “Johnny The Stroller” — was a spiritual leader, early elected official, devoted community builder and beloved newspaper columnist. This month, our Wellington History series continues by featuring this instrumental leader from the early years of the Wellington community.

The early years of Wellington were filled with fascinating characters, but perhaps none of such well-rounded interests as Father John Mangrum.

Mangrum’s influence cut across many layers of the fledgling Wellington community. He was an Episcopal priest instrumental in growing one of Wellington’s earliest churches. Mangrum was also an ecumenical leader who helped several other religious congregations gain their foothold in Wellington. He was also an avid horse lover known as the “priest of polo,” who gave the opening prayers at the old Palm Beach Polo stadium.

Mangrum was also a political leader, joining the Acme Improvement District Board of Supervisors — Wellington’s pre-incorporation government — in 1981 as the first non-developer representative of the community. First by appointment, then by election, he served as an Acme supervisor for more than a decade as the community wrestled with the thorny issue of incorporation.

Beyond the religious and political spheres, Mangrum was also engaged in the crucial work of community building. His alter ego was “Johnny The Stroller,” the name of his long-running column in the Town-Crier newspaper. He went to events around the young community and wrote about them, always with a focus on weaving together a gathering of transplants from elsewhere into the backbone of a new Wellington community destined for greatness.

In 1976, St. David’s in the Pines Episcopal Church became the first church established in the new community of Wellington. It had a handful of member families when the Rev. John F. Mangrum became its second rector in 1979.

Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mangrum grew up with a deep love of baseball and music. He served in the Pacific during World War II after doing his basic training here in Palm Beach County. After the war, he studied at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University before returning to Michigan to serve as an Episcopal priest.

After several postings in Michigan, he moved to Florida with his wife Shirley in the mid-1950s, serving at congregations in Mount Dora, Avon Park, Tampa, Jacksonville and then Clewiston. He was serving in the Glades when he first heard of the huge new development known as Wellington, and when the position at St. David’s became available, Mangrum jumped at the chance to be involved.

Through the boom years of the 1980s, Mangrum grew his congregation from a few dozen families to more than 400. The church, under his leadership, built a new 300-seat building dedicated on Thanksgiving Day in 1987, and even hosted Prince Charles (now King Charles III) on Easter Sunday in 1980 during one of his polo-playing trips to Wellington.

“He was a very solid priest who brought people into the congregation when Wellington was growing,” recalled Father Steven Thomas, who followed Mangrum as rector at St. David’s. “He was actively involved in the life of the community.”

He first met Mangrum while Thomas was working at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton.

“All of the priests in the southern part of Palm Beach County met once a month. I invited him to come to St. Andrew’s for chapel. He would come maybe once a year and give a talk during the children’s service. He was popular. They loved hearing him,” Thomas recalled.

When Mangrum eventually decided to retire in the early 1990s, he brought Thomas to Wellington and urged him to apply for the position.

“He was instrumental in my coming to Wellington and put in a good word for me with the church council. That led to me being involved in the church community for three decades,” said Thomas, who retired as rector at St. David’s in 2023.

Mangrum’s role in the religious life of Wellington wasn’t contained to St. David’s and his Episcopal flock. He was an active member of the community’s clergy association and used the resources at his disposal to support other congregations. As the leader of Wellington’s first established congregation, Mangrum believed it was his sacred duty to help others get started.

St. David’s housed the fledgling congregations of Wellington Presbyterian Church, St. Peter’s United Methodist Church and Temple Beth Torah while they waited for their own properties to be developed. While the parish that became St. Rita Catholic Church never met at St. David’s, a major fundraiser supporting St. Rita was held at St. David’s.

By the early 1980s, there were several thousand residents living in Wellington, which was still largely controlled by developers. In 1981, the developers chose Mangrum for appointment to a seat on the Acme Improvement Board of Supervisors as a representative of the growing residential population. When several Acme seats were opened to the residents through election in 1989, he stayed on the board, this time as an elected representative.

Acme, Wellington’s pre-incorporation government, had limited control, largely over drainage, roads and parks. But it was also one of the only outlets residents had to express their concerns.

“Father Mangrum was a team player. He was always willing to listen to other people’s points of view,” said Kathy Foster, who served alongside Mangrum in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “When I was president of Acme, I could always count on him to help build consensus.”

Foster, who went on to become Wellington’s first mayor after incorporation, said that Mangrum was “definitely committed to the community and to what the people wanted.”

He was particularly useful at representing Wellington before the Palm Beach County Commission and other areas of county government. “A lot of negotiating went on with the county to make sure they didn’t implement something the people of Wellington did not want,” Foster said.

She added that Mangrum’s importance to early Wellington could not be overstated.

“Father Mangrum was an integral leader in the early Wellington community,” Foster said. “He and Father [Walter] Dockerill [of St. Rita] started the ecumenical association to bring all of the different faiths together.”

She particularly recalled his jubilant personality and his love of polo.

“The thing I remember most was that he always had a smile and witty remark for everyone he met,” Foster said. “He reigned every Sunday at his box at polo. He would call out to everyone passing by. He knew everyone’s names, and always had a kind comment to say.”

In his multi-faceted roles as a spiritual leader, elected official and community builder, one of the tools at Mangrum’s fingertips was his weekly “Johnny The Stroller” column in the Town-Crier. He put that famous wit of his to work, pen to paper, to continue building the Wellington community.

Sometimes he mused about community events, such as the Fourth of July fireworks show (“A Big Bang in Wellington”); sometimes he called for needed amenities (“Wellington Needs Its Own Community Center”); or espoused his favorite pastimes (“Polo Is The Place To Be On Sunday Afternoons”). The goal was the same — further the creation of the community called Wellington.

Reflecting years later, he expressed thanks to his good friend, Town-Crier founder Bob Markey Sr., for giving him a platform to continue his mission of preaching the gospel of Wellington.

Aside from all these other roles, Mangrum was also a charter member and president of the Wellington Rotary Club, a founding member of the Palms West Chamber of Commerce, a founding member and board member of the Wellington Boys & Girls Club, and a board member with the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.

In 1997, seven years after retiring from St. David’s, Mangrum and his wife left Wellington for a retirement community in Boca Raton. He did return on occasion, including to receive a community service award from the Town-Crier in 2000 and to have his name placed on Wellington’s Founders Plaque in 2003.

Shirley Mangrum passed away in 2001, while Father John Mangrum died March 18, 2010, at the age of 87.

“It was the great Henry Pitt Van Dusen who said that the minister is the duly accredited friend of the whole community,” Mangrum said when interviewed for his Town-Crier community service award in 2000. “That idea has governed my whole life. In Wellington, that is what I was, and that is why you were here talking to me today.”

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Fresh, Healthy Mediterranean Bowls Made To Order At Olive U

Fresh, Healthy Mediterranean Bowls Made To Order At Olive U

By Joshua Manning

While fast food is convenient, it’s often unhealthy. Olive U Mediterranean Grill, now open in Wellington, aims to change that. The chain of fast casual restaurants serves fresh and healthy choices, starting with their signature, hand-crafted Mediterranean bowls.

Olive U Mediterranean Grill invites you to “live the fresh life” at its new location on State Road 7 in front of the plaza with Whole Foods Market in Wellington.

Olive U takes fast casual Mediterranean dining to a whole new level, featuring a menu of ingredients to make personalized bowls for lunch or dinner.

“We use top-quality ingredients with no shortcuts,” said owner Abdul Aburmaieleh, who created the concept seven years ago and has plans to expand throughout the South Florida area. “Our culture entails our customer service. People are greeted at the door and feel welcomed. When they taste our food, they are wowed.”

Customers can mix and match from a wide array of flavorful combinations. Olive U specializes in gyros, salads and their signature, hand-crafted Mediterranean-flavored bowls, which start under $12.

When you arrive at Olive U, the first thing you’ll do is choose the base for your bowl from choices such as lettuce, pita, hummus, cinnamon rice, or lentils and rice. Next, you’ll choose your protein from among the seasoned Olive U chicken, chicken shawarma, falafel, beef and lamb gyro, or tofu.

There is also an array of toppings to choose from, such as lettuce, onions, pickles, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, banana or jalapeño peppers, feta cheese, garbanzo beans and Kalamata olives. Finally, choose from among several sauce toppings.

“We use all natural spices. No preservatives. It’s a place where you eat and feel good about it. Healthy food does not have to be boring,” Aburmaieleh explained. “I believe in the concept of garden to table. That is where all of our ingredients come from. We just cut it and serve it.”

Looking for something more? You can add an appetizer to your meal. Choices include hummus, tzatziki, baba ghanoush, spicy feta, falafel, grape leaves and fries. Can’t decide? Put together three to build your own appetizer plate.

After, save room for a piece of sweet, taste-tempting baklava to finish your meal.

With a background in law enforcement, Aburmaieleh owned Mediterranean restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, before moving to Florida in 2014. He created Olive U because the market for Mediterranean food is growing.

“It is very clean and associated with healthy foods,” Aburmaieleh said. “That’s why it is gaining popularity, because you are focusing on what Mediterranean food encompasses, whether it is the olive oil or vegetables.”

Not sure how to put together your bowl? He has a recommendation.

“I love the chicken shawarma or the Olive U chicken with cinnamon rice and the house sauce,” Aburmaieleh said, who also enjoys a side order of hummus with his meal. “Also, I personally think our gyro on pita with the sauce is game winning.”

There are also family meal options and catering available. If you’re looking for a healthy meal to bring home for dinner, the Olive U Family Dinners include a choice of bases and proteins, plus five fresh toppings, and include a hummus and pita appetizer, as well as the signature house sauce — all for just $49.

The restaurant features a crisp, modern look with plenty of indoor seats, as well as a few tables outside in front of the store. Takeout and delivery are available. Cleanliness is a point of pride with Aburmaieleh, as is having a friendly, welcoming staff ready to go above and beyond for customers.

Olive U Wellington is one of five current locations of this growing food concept. There are also two in Boca Raton, one in Delray Beach and one in Palm Beach Gardens.

“I was fascinated by the Chipotle concept, and I wanted to create a similar service with authentic Mediterranean food, which is my background,” said Aburmaieleh, who will be opening a West Boynton location on Hagen Ranch Road this summer before shifting focus to Pembroke Pines, Plantation and Davie in Broward County. “Our four-year plan calls for 17 more stores.”

He is excited about the reception Olive U has received in the Wellington market.

“I love Wellington. I used to live here. Based on the demographics, I knew that Olive U would do so well,” Aburmaieleh said. “We have had nothing but wonderful feedback from customers. It was our best opening.”

He invites everyone who hasn’t been to the store yet to come by and “feel the love.”

“My philosophy at Olive U is always to give the customer the best, high-quality ingredients and never take shortcuts,” he said. “This is how we want to be different. When people hear the name Olive U, they think of three things — quality, friendliness and great food.”

Olive U Wellington is located at 2535 S. State Road 7, Suite 130. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. To learn more, call (561) 500-5010 or visit www.oliveugrill.com.

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A Expert Eye For Equine Art

A Expert Eye For Equine Art
International Fine Art Photographer Irina Kazaridi Is A Master With The Camera

By Mike May

Every year during the winter season, Wellington is home of many specialists in the equestrian world — riders, owners, trainers, grooms, breeders, coaches, journalists and more. Among the visitors are world-renowned equestrian photographers, and this year, that group included Irina Kazaridi, a fine art photographer who specializes in equestrian and polo photography.

Kazaridi hails from Beaulieu-sur-Mer, a scenic town in the south of France located between Nice and Monaco.

Recently, Kazaridi spent two months in Wellington, and she was not alone.

“My family joined me on this trip, so we combined it with a holiday,” she explained.

During the trip, she was able to mix business with pleasure.

“The main reason for coming to Wellington was the Winter Equestrian Festival, a unique and beautiful event that reunites the most elegant equestrian society and their most amazing horses,” Kazaridi said. “I had two small exhibitions of my work planned. One was at the beautiful private equestrian property in Wellington, Double A Stables, and another at the Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami. It was a great opportunity to showcase my work.”

Kazaridi has been taking photographs and showcasing her unique work for more than 10 years.

“I’ve been in the equestrian photography business since 2013, starting with polo in Saint-Tropez, which is near my home,” Kazaridi said. “Over the past 11 years, I’ve traveled the world to the most beautiful equestrian events.”

She excels in taking pictures of a wide variety of equine subjects.

“I photograph all types of horses, including jumpers, dressage, polo and racing horses,” Kazaridi explained.

She specializes in taking pictures of horses because of the appeal of the unexpected.

“I am drawn to taking pictures of horses because of the unpredictability of shooting, and the excitement of chasing the perfect shot,” Kazaridi said. “It’s also satisfying to see my works adorn the most sophisticated interiors.”

While Kazaridi knows how to take great pictures, her ability to bring that photo to life, so to speak, is what makes her artwork uniquely special.

“My specialty is creating fine art portraits for interior décor, and I collaborate with designers worldwide,” Kazaridi said.

One of Kazaridi’s biggest fans is equestrian Ariane Stiegler, president of Double A Stables in Wellington.

“What caught my eye was how she reached into horses’ souls and photographed them in a very unusual way — portraying only parts of their anatomy,” Stiegler said. “Her prints are large, extremely powerful and decorative. I knew when I called her that her uniqueness would set her apart from all traditional photographers in the United States and worldwide. I truly believe she is one of a kind.”

Kazaridi’s latest project is a new and different kind of equine pictorial.

“Now, I’m working on my new book of fine art photographs of the white wild horses of Camargue,” Kazaridi said. “It’s in the Provence region, in the south of France.”

Stiegler knows that Kazaridi’s new project will be well received by the general public, especially by horse lovers.

“She is extremely creative and her new endeavor of shooting horses in Camargue and putting together a book will propel her to new heights,” Stiegler said.

To learn more about the equine fine art photography of Irina Kazaridi, visit www.horseprintcollection.com.

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Managing The Mall

Managing The Mall
Asad Sadiq, General Manager Of The Mall At Wellington Green, Enjoys His Job Helping Retailers And Residents

Asad Sadiq has always had a knack for numbers, a thirst for technology and a fervor for marketing. So, it should not be too surprising that he ended up as general manager of Wellington’s largest shopping venue.

“Looking back,” Sadiq said, “it’s almost as if I was destined for this career path.”

Sadiq is the general manager of the Mall at Wellington Green, a 1.2 million-square-foot, two-level, regional shopping destination featuring more than 160 retail stores, dining destinations and entertainment outlets, anchored by Macy’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney, City Furniture/Ashley Furniture and CMX Cinemas. He has served in his current role since July 2021.

Growing up in Chicago, Sadiq was the oldest of three children. His father was a professional electrician and drove a limousine as a side hustle for 15 years. That side hustle would also help Sadiq pay for college at DePaul University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in finance and commerce.

“I would drive for my dad for a semester, save my money, then be able to pay tuition the following semester,” Sadiq recalled. “It was really a great gig.”

He also learned the value of customer service in that role, which is an integral part of his current position.

“Working in a retail environment and interacting with our tenants and guests can be challenging at times,” Sadiq explained. “But I often find it to be the most rewarding part of what I do. Helping our merchants — particularly our small, independent retailers — achieve their dream of opening a store is easily the part of my job I love the most.”

Sadiq has more than 15 years of C-Suite-level accounting experience in both the public and private sectors. He previously served as property accountant for Starwood Retail Partners, a division of Starwood Capital Group, then transitioned into property management, first as the assistant general manager of Southlake Mall in Merrillville, Indiana, then at Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, Michigan, both Starwood properties.

The Mall at Wellington Green is managed by the New York-based Spinoso Real Estate Group (www.spinosoreg.com), which oversees operations of more than 74.9 million square feet of enclosed malls throughout the United States. Spinoso brings a creative, entrepreneurial approach to real estate development and management, delivering and sustaining successful projects across a wide range of property types across the country. This portfolio includes work on hundreds of enclosed shopping malls, lifestyle centers and large-scale retail projects.

When he’s not leading his management teams to achieve sales and NOI (net operating income) goals with the latest innovation and technology, Sadiq is likely to be found cooking; enjoying a polo match with his wife Sadfeen and two daughters, Summer and Ellie; or volunteering his time as the leader of Switch, a weekly mentoring program for high school boys at Life.Church in Wellington.

“I’m extremely blessed to have an opportunity to mentor these incredible middle school and high school kids,” Sadiq said. “Programs like these are essential to help these kids find and build strength in their mind and soul, especially in today’s world where there are so many negative distractions.”

Sadiq also recently returned from a humanitarian aid trip to Cuba with Gateway of Hope, a nonprofit organization that funds care centers that distribute medicine and vitamins to children and pregnant women, organizes athletic programs for youth and other services.

Sadiq and his family love living in Wellington and, aside from their go-to dining spots at the Mall at Wellington Green, they do have a couple of local favorites in the community — both not far from his day job at the mall.

“Kaluz has a great kid’s menu, and our girls just love it there,” he said. “Sicilian Oven also never disappoints.”

The Mall at Wellington Green is home to more than 160 stores. The regional shopping destination is located at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in Wellington. Mall hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about the Mall at Wellington Green, call (561) 227-6900 or visit www.shopwellingtongreen.com.

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Vision Zero Action Plan

Vision Zero Action Plan
The Village Of Wellington Has An Ambitious Goal Aimed At Eliminating Traffic Fatalities

The Village of Wellington is currently developing a Vision Zero Action Plan. This plan will guide policies and programs with the goal of eliminating traffic crashes that result in fatalities and severe injuries. Let’s learn more about what this means for residents.

I remember when automobile drivers and passengers could legally choose not to wear seat belts. Similarly, and almost unfathomably by today’s standards, automobile drivers were once able to consume alcohol while driving. Thankfully, legislators took away these choices. Additionally, in 2009, the law which makes it illegal to be unrestrained while riding in a car became a primary law. This means that you can be pulled over and issued a citation simply if you are not wearing your seatbelt. But the result — thousands of lives saved, and serious injuries prevented — has undoubtedly been worth giving up the dubious freedom to go beltless.

Better Vision
Today, as we see roadway fatalities rising and a disturbing 50-percent increase in pedestrian deaths during roughly the last decade nationwide, many transportation professionals are re-doubling their efforts using “Vision Zero,” an approach that has been successfully embraced in several states during the last two decades. This fundamentally new mindset envisions a transportation system in which most serious crashes are prevented. To achieve this, some of our cherished freedoms — especially the freedom to drive at maximum speeds — must be constrained.

First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has been adopted by the European Union with an intermediary target of a 50-percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Europe already has seen a 36-percent reduction in road deaths from 2010 to 2020.

Wellington’s Vision
The Village of Wellington is currently developing a Vision Zero Action Plan. This plan will guide policies and programs with the goal of eliminating traffic crashes that result in fatalities and severe injuries along Wellington’s roadways. The village’s Vision Zero initiative strives to improve safety for everyone traveling around the community, whether walking, cycling, driving, horseback riding or riding transit, and to improve the identified high-crash injury locations, all in an effort to prevent fatal and severe injury crashes. The Vision Zero Action Plan sets an ambitious long-term goal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries from occurring along Wellington’s roadways. Vision Zero programs prioritize safety over other transportation goals, acknowledge that traffic fatalities and serious injuries are preventable, and incorporate a multidisciplinary Safe System approach.

The core belief of Vision Zero is that fatal and severe injury crashes are unacceptable and preventable. This approach to safety brings together education, data-driven decision-making and community engagement with context-sensitive, people-centric street designs that account for human error, promote slower speeds and improve mobility for all users. With this Vision Zero approach, Wellington’s departments and residents work together to make village streets safer and meet the goal of zero deaths and serious injuries attributable to traffic crashes in Wellington by 2030.

The Wellington Village Council formally adopted Vision Zero, an ambitious commitment to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2030, through Resolution R2022-15 passed in July 2022 mandating a safe systems approach and equitable action plan aimed at saving lives on local roads.

What Is Vision Zero?
Vision Zero is an international effort to eliminate all fatal and serious injury traffic crashes. Adopted by dozens of communities across the United States, it is a heartfelt belief that these crashes are preventable, and that changed attitudes and approaches will enable success.

Vision Zero is based on five key principles: Traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable; human life and health are prioritized within all aspects of transportation systems; human error is inevitable and transportation systems should be forgiving; safety work should focus on systems-level change above influencing individual behavior; and speed is recognized as the fundamental factor in crash severity. The program encourages communities to adopt policies and implement programs and procedures that can eliminate the potential for serious injury and fatal traffic-related crashes to occur. Wellington’s goal is to eliminate all of these crashes by 2030.

How Does This Relate To You?
As you think about your family, friends and acquaintances, is there anyone you would be accepting of being killed or seriously injured in a traffic crash? Would you miss them and mourn them? You would not tolerate a baby product to remain on the market if it injured children. You would demand tainted foods that made people sick be removed from grocery stores. You expect that the water you drink is free from contaminants. You have zero tolerance for these and similar things. Yet, in the United States, nearly 40,000 people are killed each year on our roadways. Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal traffic crashes of any state. So, why is this considered acceptable? Frankly, it is not, and we individually and collectively should make changes in our attitudes, expectations and approaches to achieve the goal of no one being killed or severely injured when traveling along, around and across our roadways.

The village’s Vision Zero Action Plan will guide policies and programs with the goal of eliminating fatalities on local roadways. The plan focuses on providing near-term recommendations to rapidly implement safety improvements and begin the systemic changes needed to fully realize Vision Zero. Many recommended engineering treatments, enforcement directives and educational programs can and will be rolled out quickly over the first year. But we also understand that fundamentally improving traffic safety and ending senseless tragedies will require a generational commitment to changing culture, infrastructure and mobility planning.

Input From The Public
The Vision Zero Action Plan requires public outreach as it aims to improve road safety and reduce traffic fatalities, and gathering feedback from the community can help ensure that the plan addresses their concerns and needs. Your input is essential for the success of Wellington’s Vision Zero Action Plan. You can provide us with your concerns regarding traffic and safety on the village’s roads at www.wellingtonvisionzero.com.

With sustained vision and dedication to protecting human life as the top priority, the village believes this ambitious goal of zero severe injuries and death due to preventable crashes can become a reality over the next decade. This action plan provides a comprehensive roadmap to get Wellington to zero. It will require a massive community education effort and also necessitate a paradigm shift in how local government and drivers think about safety — like what we’ve seen with seat belts.

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