Please see below for stories published prior to the 2022-2023 school year.
Bellmore-Merrick Presents at Transition Summit
Four years ago, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District was the first district in Nassau County to participate in the New York State Education Department Adult Career & Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation Summer Youth Employment Services program.
At that time, the district worked in conjunction with ACCES-VR to place 10 graduating students with special learning needs in paid community internships. One of those students was a young man named William Donohue, whose internship was at the World Gym in Wantagh.
Four years later, William is still employed at World Gym. His story is an inspiration to all young adults with special needs.
On March 11, William, his mother Erin Donohue, World Gym Supervisor Richard Schutt and Cheryl Gitlitz, the districtwide transitions coordinator, were part of a panel that presented this success story to more than 300 school district personnel and ACCES-VR counselors at Farmingdale State College.
This presentation once again showed how the district’s commitment to students with special learning needs is a model for other districts to follow. As the overwhelming response from the audience was for the panel to “take this show on the road,” to help guide more districts to take part in outstanding programs such as this.
District Hosts Successful Transition Fair
On Jan. 26, the district SEPTA and the Community Parent Center hosted its ninth annual Transition Fair for Students with Disabilities: From Eligibility to Employment and Beyond at Calhoun.
The event presented a step-by-step overview of the transition process, from eligibility determination through employment to supported living options for individuals with special needs.
This year’s fair housed more than 50 representatives from various organizations and agencies across Long Island. It featured nine different workshops spearheaded by experts in the field of disability rights and services, who focused on subjects such as self-determination, special needs trusts, social security benefits, and Medicaid and non-Medicaid services.
“The event highlights included a very popular student workshop with presentations from Bellmore-Merrick students and alumni who have already taken part in pre-vocational and vocational experiences and have success stories to share their wisdom with those looking forward to the transition,” said Cheryl Gitlitz, the districtwide Transition Coordinator. “The event was an overall success registering over 200 parents and staff from Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district as well as surrounding districts.”
District Hosts SEPTA Transition Fair
SEPTA held its eighth annual Transition Fair for
special needs students preparing for life outside of secondary school.
The fair, hosted at Calhoun on Jan. 6, attracted dozens of local and
state organizations that specialize in services for special needs
adults. Some of these agencies included AHRC, Life’s WORC, Adults and
Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, Ken’s Krew,
Tender Care Human Services and SANYS, the self-advocacy organization in
New York, to name a few.
The event kicked off with a vocal performance by Express Yourself,
Calhoun’s mixed chorus of Prep for the Future students and members of
the On-Tour drama club.
Attendees were able to select workshops from a diverse list, including
Family Support Services; Special Needs Trust and Legal Guardianship;
Medicaid Service Coordination; the ACCES Employment and Training Program
and Self-Advocacy advice from members of SANYS. A student workshop also
hosted former special needs students who returned to Bellmore-Merrick
to relate their experiences outside of high school. The workshop
concluded with a fun scavenger hunt of the agency tables with treats
provided in the cafeteria afterward.
During the event, Prep for the Future students also manned The Stable, Calhoun’s school store.
“With more than 200 attendees, and more than 50 agencies and speakers
taking part, the night was truly a success and the information gained
will surely help a great number of families,” said Cheryl Gitlitz, the
district’s transition coordinator. “It may have been a very cold and
bitter night outside, but the dedicated professionals, Calhoun alumni
and parent volunteers allowed every attendee to leave with a very warm
and comfortable feeling.”
Click here for a photo slideshow.
Special Needs Students Explore Their Future
Calhoun hosted Bellmore-Merrick’s annual SEPTA College and Higher Education Planning Night for students with special learning needs on Nov. 6.
One of SEPTA’s main goals is to give families and students the opportunity to become educated consumers about relevant services and supports available to them. The event is designed so students, parents and faculty have the opportunity to meet disability service representatives from Long Island schools and agencies, as well as representatives from various vocational programs. The combination of information tables and guest speaker workshops allowed participants to individualize their experience to fit their needs.
In the past, more than 40 colleges, trade schools and agencies have participated, drawing more than 300 attendees, and this year was no different. It was the combination of everyone’s effort that made this night a huge success.
Click here for a photo slideshow.
SEPTA Celebrates Achievements
SEPTA was recently invited to celebrate the achievements of students in Lauren Beinert’s class at Merrick Avenue Middle School along with their “natural helpers,” Julianne Losquadro, Nadya Resnick and Rebecca Vargas.
Click here to view the Thank You Flyer