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Around Southampton: Norris Spanish program thrives, residents help out Sandy victims

  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Aidan Hocking, center, exchanges Spanish phrases with Julianne Moro during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.

    Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Aidan Hocking, center, exchanges Spanish phrases with Julianne Moro during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • From left, Bowen Hocking, Hailey Bodecki, Grant Labrie, Timi Antonio and Sedona Williams sing a song in Spanish Thursday during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. The class is taught by Brigid O'Riordan.

    From left, Bowen Hocking, Hailey Bodecki, Grant Labrie, Timi Antonio and Sedona Williams sing a song in Spanish Thursday during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. The class is taught by Brigid O'Riordan. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Aidan Hocking, center, exchanges Spanish phrases with Julianne Moro during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.

    Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Aidan Hocking, center, exchanges Spanish phrases with Julianne Moro during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • From left, Bowen Hocking, Hailey Bodecki, Grant Labrie, Timi Antonio and Sedona Williams sing a song in Spanish Thursday during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. The class is taught by Brigid O'Riordan.

    From left, Bowen Hocking, Hailey Bodecki, Grant Labrie, Timi Antonio and Sedona Williams sing a song in Spanish Thursday during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. The class is taught by Brigid O'Riordan. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Hailey Wodecki exchanges Spanish phrases with another student during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.

    Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Hailey Wodecki exchanges Spanish phrases with another student during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Hailey Wodecki exchanges Spanish phrases with another student during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.

    Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Hailey Wodecki exchanges Spanish phrases with another student during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Aidan Hocking, center, exchanges Spanish phrases with Julianne Moro during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.
  • From left, Bowen Hocking, Hailey Bodecki, Grant Labrie, Timi Antonio and Sedona Williams sing a song in Spanish Thursday during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. The class is taught by Brigid O'Riordan.
  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Aidan Hocking, center, exchanges Spanish phrases with Julianne Moro during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.
  • From left, Bowen Hocking, Hailey Bodecki, Grant Labrie, Timi Antonio and Sedona Williams sing a song in Spanish Thursday during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton. The class is taught by Brigid O'Riordan.
  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Hailey Wodecki exchanges Spanish phrases with another student during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.
  • Brigid O'Riordan, left, listens Thursday as Hailey Wodecki exchanges Spanish phrases with another student during an after school Spanish class for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students at Norris School in Southampton.

When William E. Norris School Principal William Collins decided to launch an after-school foreign language program this fall, he expected about 20 kids would sign up.

He was a little bit modest in his estimation.

Over 100 students in kindergarten through sixth grade are learning Spanish one afternoon each week in the new program.

“It’s exceeded our wildest expectations,” Collins said. He said six instructors, including program leader Brigid O’Riordan, teach the students in eight classes that are divided up based on age. “I sat in on one of the classes, and it’s amazing how they absorb everything like sponges.”

Collins said he hopes to one day make foreign language a part of the school day, but time and money make that difficult. “All of this research says that exposing children to language when their brains are still forming is so valuable,” he said. “It impacts them for a lifetime.”

The program is the result of an effort by the PTO, led by parent Anne Howland, to raise money to add a world languages and culture class to the curriculum. Howland, who has studied seven languages, said her daughters Timi Antonio, 6, and Sage Antonio, 9, were not excited to go to the after-school program at first.

“But now they like it. They like practicing the words outside of class and showing me they know new words,” she said.

Howland started contacting local and national donors to support a world languages program two years ago. She raised more than $5,000, which helps keep the costs to parents down, Collins said.

The current seven-week session of the program, which ends in December, costs parents $25 per student. The next session, which will begin in January, will be expanded to eight weeks and will cost $35.

Howland said that seeing the program finally “up and running” is exciting.

“The part that was really thrilling was seeing how many people really were interested in it,” she said. “That was great.”

•••

Locals provide Sandy relief

Although the New York shoreline devastated by Superstorm Sandy is hundreds of miles away from Southampton, town residents have been donating everything from money to toothbrushes to help the New Yorkers recover from the storm.

Cub Scout Pack 210 sold pasta dinners to raise money for the American Red Cross to aid Sandy’s victims, and Robert Floyd, town moderator and owner of the Robert Floyd Photo Gallery, collected and delivered two van-loads of clothes, personal hygiene items and other supplies for those affected by the storm in the Far Rockaway area of Queens, N.Y.

Floyd, who lived on Long Island many years ago when he first began working as a photographer, said the area was unrecognizable in the wake of the storm. “It was worse than I could have imagined. I saw someone shoveling sand 2 feet deep from a yard,” he said. “They can’t get into their homes and they can’t even walk to the store to buy toothpaste because the stores are closed.”

Floyd said his apprentice at the gallery, Patti Castagne of Northampton, came up with the idea of collecting supplies for the victims and he received a “tremendous response” when he requested donations from the community. He plans to make two more trips to deliver supplies. Those wishing to help can drop off donations at the gallery at 2 East St.

The Cub Scouts of Pack 210 also worked to help the victims of Sandy, and provided Southampton residents with a spaghetti dinner at the same time.

The club held a fundraiser at the Town Hall on Election Day, offering the take-home dinners for $5. They sold 180 meals in 2½ hours, raising $1,317, said Pack Leader Heather Galpin.

“We just last-minute threw it together as a fundraiser for the pack, but then the storm hit, and we thought, ‘We can’t just do this for us,’ ” Galpin said.

“They’re very excited and proud of themselves,” she said of the Cub Scouts.

Opa Opa Steakhouse and Brewery on College Highway prepared the 60 pounds of pasta and about 10 boys at a time dished and distributed the meals at the Town Hall.

“The reaction we got from the community was great — some people just donated money when they saw the cause,” Galpin said.

•••

Toys for Kids campaign launched

The Southampton Lions Club is working with the Northampton office of the Salvation Army on its fifth annual Toys for Kids campaign, collecting new, unwrapped toys suitable for ages 12 and under until Dec. 17. The toys will be given to children in Hampshire County.

Last year’s effort provided families with 309 toys and gift cards for 14 holiday dinners. Donations of money are accepted, which helps provide vouchers for holiday dinners for some families.

Collection boxes are located in the Southampton branches of the Easthampton Savings Bank, the Polish National Credit Union, and in the Manhan Café and Glory Days restaurant, both in Easthampton.Donations also may be left in a box on the front porch of 10 Glendale Woods Drive in Southampton.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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