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Riverhead school board notes: Bus garage, MindUp and water

Riverhead bus garage

At its meeting Tuesday, the Riverhead Board of Education unanimously approved allocating more than $1.1 million from its repair reserve fund for improvements at its future transportation facility on Edwards Avenue.

The improvements — including removal of certain soils as well as asphalt repair, removal and replacement — are planned before construction begins on the new Calverton facility. The project is currently out to bid.

Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney said during her presentation Tuesday that soil disposal costs would cost just under $326,900 and asphalt renovations would total just over $789,000.

The district’s $5 million repair reserve fund was approved by voters in May 2015.

Board members also approved spending more than $4 million from a separate $10 million capital reserve fund on other work related to the new transportation facility, including plumbing and heating, additions and alterations and soil remediation. That fund, also established in May 2015, was designated specifically for the new transportation garage and athletic field improvements.

The district hopes to have the new bus facility completed by Sept. 1, Ms. Carney said.

A new building and grounds facility will be built at the current bus garage site on Osborn Avenue. Plans for that facility are currently awaiting state approval, Ms. Carney said.


Five students from Phillips Avenue Elementary School joined principal Debra Rodgers, assistant principal Alison Conroy and three teachers Tuesday for a presentation about a pilot program called “MindUp,” designed to “address the social and emotional needs of students,” Ms. Carney said.

Ms. Rodgers said the MindUp curriculum was introduced late last spring as a resource for teachers and staff to help children understand their feelings. Lessons focus on mindfulness, which fourth-grade teacher Meghan Scully described as “the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

During the four-part curriculum, students are taught about different parts of the brain, focusing on the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex, and learn about the five senses and their “relation to the brain, their emotions, their reactions and their responses to things,” Ms. Rodgers said.

Students also participate up to three deep-breathing exercises daily to help them relax and focus on the work at hand, an exercise five students demonstrated at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The students and staff also sang a song, to the tune of “Twist and Shout,” about the different parts of the brain and their functions, and led board members through a mindful eating exercise associated with the five senses.

Ms. Rodgers added that about 20 staff and faculty members are working on an expanded MindUp curriculum tailored to Phillips Avenue Elementary students.

The Water Project

After reading “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, seventh-grade English Language Arts students were inspired to participate in The Water Challenge, administrators said Tuesday.

This national event asks students, teachers and staff to pledge to drink only water for two weeks to raise awareness of the cost of water throughout the world.

The money participants save by not purchasing soda and other flavored drinks is donated to The Water Project, an organization that provides access to clean, safe and reliable water across sub-Saharan Africa, Ms. Carney said.

The project began locally around 2014, when middle school staff and students raised over $1,000.

The money raised this year will be combined with funds raised by other schools participating in The Water Challenge to build a well in Sudan. The cost of digging the well is approximately $15,000, Ms. Carney said.

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Top photo: The Riverhead bus garage Tuesday on Osborn Avenue. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)