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Girls Scouts Tie Up Six Years with a Donation to Fox Meadow School

GirlscoutsGirl Scout Troop 1596 began at Fox Meadow School in 2005, with 31 first grade girls and two leaders, Caryl Grueskin and Karen Chapro. Notable for its size, the troop included 31 of the 35 girls in the grade because they did not want to turn anyone away. In third grade the leaders Christine Bensche, Janet Korins and Monica Rieckhoff joined the group. Five years later, in sixth grade, the troop finished with 11 girls, including 2 from an Edgewood troop.

Over the years the girls raised funds primarily through cookie sales and used them to fund projects such as building bluebird houses for Fox Meadow nature park, part of an effort by the Audobon Society to provide habitat for the endangered Eastern Bluebird.

They helped an animal shelter, threw a Halloween party for the children at Coachman family center in White Plains, sang in a retirement home, collected litter at the school, helped pack food at the Interfaith Food Bank, donated groceries to Grace Church and sorted donations to Haiti at AFYA.

When they ceased operations in June, 2011, the troop had $1,500 in their account and they decided to donate $750 for three river birch trees, which were just recently planted around the blacktop at Fox Meadow. They also gave $650 towards an electrical upgrade and $200 for kitchen equipment, both at the Girl Scout House. As Christine Bensche said, "We are very proud of this troop and its generosity to the community." Troop leader Monica Rieckoff added, "The girls were really service oriented and wanted to help others. I had a wonderful time as a leader getting to know this incredible group and also am very appreciative of the leaders of Scarsdale/Edgemont Girl Scouts for the opportunities they make possible and our community's support for girl scouts. A favorite memory is probably baking brownies in our homemade cardboard ovens at the campout- they were yummy!”

Pictured here are former members of Girl Scout Troop 1596 with Fox Meadow Principal Duncan Wilson in front of a newly planted river birch tree.

I Quack for Groupon

ducktourIn the weeks leading up to Groupon’s IPO – which had its incredibly successful public debut Friday – there has been much talk about the magic (or lack thereof) that makes Groupon, well, Groupon. Is it their gorilla marketing campaign? Their ginormous subscriber list? A sales force that rivals in size the Red Army? Perhaps.

But, if you ask me, the quality that sets them apart is…ducks.

You see, the first time I used a coupon from Groupon was to take my family on an amphibious tour of San Francisco. Let’s get one thing straight here: I would not be caught dead on one of these boat-vans in my home city of New York, arguing that riding on an amphibious vehicle is akin to wearing a skort. Plus, as if the weird boat-van doesn’t draw enough attention to your lame posse, everyone riding this thing is given bright yellow “quackers” – kazoos shaped like Daffy duck lips - to wear around the neck and blow into when feeling enthusiastic. Which is often. (Quack once if you see the Ghirardelli chocolate factory! Quack twice for Pier 39! And Pier 40! For Alcatraz! Quack to the homeless man! Quack three times if you think the captain of your tour self-medicates!)

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s those tourists that look like tourists, and on a duck tour there’s no question about it: you’re from outta town.

But, I rationalized, as I contemplated my computer screen’s daily deal a few days before heading out to the West Coast, no one in San Fran knows me. And for one day only, Groupon was offering the tour for 64% off. It was like getting three quacks for the price of one! What the hell. I went for it.

A week later, my family and I took a ride on a giant skort. And, as the captain blasted “We Are Family” from the speakers in his hindquarters while all of Union Square looked on and felt sorry for us, I smiled and waved like I was on the Popemobile. It was a quacking riot.

Therein lies Groupon’s true secret: they know the price of your dignity, and they undercut it every time.



Taddiken Announces Leadership Changes in Edgemont

devanEdgemont will promote from within. That's what was announced at the October 11th Board of Education meeting when Edgemont Superintendent Nancy Taddiken presented her administrative succession proposal for the district. Assistant Principal Devan Ganeshananthan will assume the role of principal at Edgemont High School effective February 1, 2012. Dr. Friedman, the current principal who is scheduled to retire on August 31st, will assume the role of Assistant to the Superintendent and work in the District Office and also help Mr. Ganeshananthan through the transition period. Assistant Principal Mike Curtin will assume the role of Director of Curriculum and Instructional Technology for Grades K thru 12 on July 1, 2012 and will also move to the District Office. The proposal was unanimously supported by the BOE.

The district will search for two new Assistant Principals to fill Mr. Ganeshananthan's and Mr. Curtin's positions. Assistant PrincipalmcurtainMonseliu's exact position will not be filled when she moves to Florida at the end of December. The three existing assistant principal positions will be consolidated into two positions. Ms. Taddiken felt that she will first look internally to fill these two positions and then conduct an external search if necessary. Taddiken also mentioned that her current contract runs till July 1, 2013 and she has not yet decided if she will retire or not at that time.

Most parents that I spoke to were very happy with the announcements and were glad that both Mr. Ganeshananthan and Mr. Curtin had been promoted. Both are very well liked by many parents in the district. Some however expressed regret that an external search was not conducted to make sure that the best people were hired for these positions but did not have any problems with Mr. Ganeshananthan and Mr. Curtin filling these positions; they would have just preferred to have seen an extensive search. However Ms. Taddiken noted that Mr. Ganeshananthan was hired after an extensive search for his previous position (replacing Mr. Tim Hoss as junior high assistant principal). Previous to coming to Edgemont, Mr. Ganeshananthan was a house principal at New Rochelle High School.

freidmanAt the same BOE meeting, the district's independent auditor made a presentation and discussed the current financial state of the district. The district brought in $500,000 more in revenue than expected and spent close to $4 million less than expected. The excess funds were added to the fund balance for future use. Looking ahead ... the situation is difficult. Evidently the money that the school district has to contribute to various employee benefits including the teachers retirement system has increased significantly from last year. The auditor doesn't see how the school district can possibly meet these financial demands and stay within the New York State 2% budget cap. However the BOE can decide to present a budget to the community above the 2% cap and trust that parents will approve the budget by the required supermajority of 60%. Last year's budget passed by more than 60%.

At October 19th's PTSA Parent Forum (EHS Library at 9 am), Ms. Taddiken will review the succession plan with parents and community members and will do so again at the evening PTSA Parent Forum on Thursday, November 3rd. The evening meeting will take place at 7:30 pm in the high school LGI room and will also feature a presentation by EHS "Study Skills for Success" teacher, Mr. Doug Weitz.



Home Design Without a Hassle

decden1If you know that your home decorating needs improvement or updating but are overwhelmed by the task, a new local resource can help. They offer a one-stop solution with assistance in your home at your convenience and carry furniture, fabrics, wallpapers and all types of shades from top manufacturers like Kravet and Hunter Douglas. And once you meet with Marina Colella and tell her what you have in mind, she’ll bring all the samples to your home – eliminating the need for trips to the furniture store or D&D building in Manhattan. She’ll even wait for deliveries and installations in your home so you don’t have to miss work or personal engagements.

Marina of the Decorating Den can create a variety of looks in your home – from traditional to contemporary and incorporate items you want to keep into the plan. She has an accommodating and reassuring way about her, and as soon as you meet her you’ll see that she won’t intimidate you into making purchases that are out of your comfort zone.

As a first step she’ll come to your house for a complimentary consultation where you can show her what you’d like to keep and what you’d like todecden2change and discuss your budget. She’ll take this information back to her office and return for your second meeting with a plan, including layouts, fabrics, carpet samples and even suggested paint color swatches. Once you make your decisions, she’ll place the orders for custom upholstery, window treatments or wall paper and keep track of the status. When everything is ready, she’ll be in your house to supervise the deliveries and installation. The whole process, from start to finish, usually takes around three months and there are no hourly fees for design, shopping or installation.

Putting her in charge takes the risk out of the process and prevents you from ordering something that turns out to be the wrong size or the wrong fit for your home. Plus, you don’t need to find installers or upholsterers because these services are provided. Decorating Den is part of a large national chain and has a wide range of sources in competitive prices they pass onto you.

We asked Marina about some of the challenges she has helped customers overcome and she mentioned a tight sunroom that the client wanted to use as a TV room. Rearranging furniture and optimizing the space she was able to create a cozy, inviting room where the whole family could enjoy a show together. She also has helped customers with the opposite problem – a very large room that needs to be decorated to add warmth and scale. Last, we wondered what’s new in home trends this season and she told us that popular colors are grays, off white and a touch of tea. As for style, the latest is “transitional” which melds traditional with contemporary flair.decden3

Marina Colella
Decorating Den Interiors
Windows, Furniture, Lighting, Floor coverings, Accessories



Brave New World of Apps

iPhoneIt wasn’t love at first sight, but after we spent some time together I was head over heels. I am a middle aged woman, still deeply in love with my husband of almost three decades, but I had fallen in love again. The object of my new affection was sleek, well built, powerful, fast and fun. I had bought an iPhone

Last year, my previous phone - a Blackberry - was faltering, so prior to purchasing a new device I spent a great deal of time researching three smartphone platforms: BlackBerry, Droid and iPhone. Given the fast paced New York way of life coupled with the lack of overlap between my husband’s schedule and mine, I seem to spend more time with my phone than my spouse. The right choice of a new phone was critical.

So many factors to research! - and so unqualified for this task – but I went up the learning curve quickly: screen size, battery life, mega pixels, graphics quality, connectivity, call integrity, etc., not to mention cost and carrier plan specifics. And that’s how I met my iPhone.

When I purchased the phone, the salesperson introduced me to the world of apps. How useful and what fun! Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

GasBuddy – provides gas prices by price or location

Flixster – find movie times and locations, view trailers, read reviews, etc…

iRetouch - photo editing on your phone

HopStop - provides options/directions for travel between two points within various cities/locations. Great in Manhattan!

NYC Subway Map

Sit Or Squat: Bathroom Finder (sponsored by Charmin!) - locates public toilets; provides reviews of cleanliness, etc… Of five stars maximum: 2 ½ or more indicate ‘sit’; fewer than 2 ½ indicate ‘squat’.

Open Table – make reservations at restaurants

Tip Calculator

Epicurious – great in the supermarket when you need recipes (with a list of ingredients) for dinner, etc.

Google Translate – like having many foreign language dictionaries at your fingertips

Merriam -Webster Dictionary

US Open Tennis – was wonderful for obtaining current scores, match locations, player stats, etc…

iHandy Flashlight – I never thought I would use this until I went to a very dark restaurant and couldn’t read the menu. Apparently, neither could anyone else because the restaurant was a sea of iPhone flashlights.

My only gripe so far with apps for the iPhone is that I can’t seem to locate a Metro-North schedule for my phone, but this app is available to Droid users. I suppose every couple has a tiff now and then.

Please share your favorite apps!