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2009-03-04 / Columnists

A Sweet Math Challenge for Amityville Students

In conjunction with the Amityville Public School District's commitment to helping students perform to their highest potential on the New York State Assessments and to sharpen their critical thinking and analytical skills, Park Avenue Elementary School Math teachers once again planned and facilitated the building's annual "Math Week." In a truly cooperative effort, teachers in all disciplines incorporated mathematics into their daily lessons, and special activities and games were planned to immerse students in all things mathematical.

One of the most popular activities allowed students to celebrate Valentines Day in a fun, yet educational way. The "Temptation Estimation" challenge allowed students to use a variety of math skills they have been learning over the course of the years to predict the amount of candy hearts in a plastic container that was on display in the rotunda of the building. A winner from each grade was selected based on how close their estimation was to the actual candy count. The official tally of candy was 762 and the class winners included: third grader Yaneiry Castro Vasquez with 748, fourth grader Ayvun Robinson with 750 and fifth grader Sasha Calbo with 765. Students were congratulated by Park Avenue Interim Principal Dr. Regina Cohn, Assistant Principal Scott Bullis, and teachers Ms. Finizio and Ms. Pellegrino, who awarded them with a Rubik's cube to continue to challenge their minds.

Winners are shown , left to right are Yaneiry Castro Vasquez, Ayvun Robinson and Sasha Calbo.

Sharon had a way of acquiring animals at adoption events. She found Shiro her toy mix outside a LAP pancake breakfast; 2 puppies dumped at the Lindenhurst Octoberfest became Koester dogs. For about 15 Augusts LAP partnered with Babylon Shelter bringing shelter animals to the Town Craft Fair. Sharon supplied all the tents, cages, refreshments and giveaways at the lakeside location, and would wind up with at least one extra dog or cat surrendered to LAP by the end of the day. She was a fairy godmother to Babylon Shelter. In fact a standing dog dryer, she donated ages ago finally conked out.

Pet Paws showcased shelter pets alongside the LAP fosters. Her store hosted Santa and Easter Bunny pet photo fundraisers. Matted shelter dogs came in for makeovers. Extra "Pets" poster dog Polaroids hung in the window. I was allowed to "borrow" kittens over Memorial Day weekend to give them exposure when the town shelter was closed. Sharon promoted cooperation between the municipal and private rescue; was the liaison for veterinary and corporate helpers; plus a maven at harnessing volunteer energy. Guess that was why I spent all my school vacations at the vet.

I'm allowed to say the following because I fit right in. It may be the nature of the beast but rescue groups attract colorful characters, ultra- passionate about their cause. Often volatile and/or needy personalities gravitate to animal organizations. They all found Sharon. The eccentric, old cat lady who needed a new roof; the lonely woman in the trailer camp who couldn't drive- Sharon wound up helping poor souls like these more than they ever gave back to the strays.

There are many fond and funny memories. Sharon once fired a teen worker because he was selling nickel bags of catnip to his gullible pals. Thieves broke into the store, took the register cash, left the adoption donations and fed the cats. Ohrbachs (boy, I am dating myself) used to donate items to LAP's perpetual garage sales. We had the Michael Jackson Moon Walk line that we'd model for our customers. Sharon chose her luxury cars- "Cat- illacs", as she called them, by calculating how many pet carriers she could stack on the back seat.

Despite years of health and family turmoil, Sharon always gave of herself. She rarely slept. She'd bring the gang to the vet but postpone her own doctor appointments. LAP South Shore disbanded when she closed Pet Paws about 10 years ago with the intention of retiring to Florida. But she didn't retire in her new home. Instead she lovingly assumed custody of her 2 grandchildren while also annexing her daughter's St. Bernard, the neighbor's castaway dog and a cast of cats.

There is a void in the animal world. Best way to fill it is to do something kind for strays, for ferals, for discarded pets in memory of Sharon Koester. Maybe you came to a garage sale where you learned how to clean cat's ears, or waited patiently at Pet Paws buying Duke biscuits while she booked spay appointments. Perhaps you even adopted a LAP foster. Even if you never met her, do a pet mitzvah. Both Sharon and the homeless animal beneficiary would be ever grateful for your compassion.

** Huge Thanks to Dr. Dennis Leon of Levittown Animal Hospital for hosting Last Hope's Free Feral TNR Clinic. Last Sunday 8 volunteer vets spayed and neutered 93 cats. More details soon.

* Last Hope St. Pat's Dinner & Auction Sunday March 15 from 1 to 5 pm at Milleridge Cottage in Jericho. Tickets $65 in advance; $75 at the door. Call 631-957-0023.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: "Prudence" a cute Border Terrier mix in Cage 46 was rescued from the middle of Rt. 110. She was fearful when she arrived at the shelter but has become more relaxed. "Bailey" a handsome 1 year cat in the lobby now calls a rabbit cage home.

Female: Rottweiler Cage 40; muted calico kitten in food prep room; "Tyra" Rottie mix Cage 42.

Male" Cane Corso in maternity- had eye surgery; "Sarge"-Pit ball player Cage 1

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