Tag Archive | "gifts"

Sag Harbor Schools Bring The Holiday Spirit Up North

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Xmas Donations

By Claire Walla

Above: (left to right) Veronica Baum, Lucy Beeton, Charlie Browning, Ryan Brown (all third graders); Hayley Schimmer, Sam Miller, Adrian Pickering, Emily Verneuille, Siena Remkus-Fabiano (members of Pierson High School’s National Honors Society).

When your hometown has been devastated by rising floodwaters — homes washed away, jobs dissolved — the holidays are not the easiest time of year. But for the Windham School District in upstate New York, which was seriously damaged by Tropical Storm Irene back in August, the holiday season has already arrived.

Last Friday, December 8 Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto and Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone, decked out in matching Santa hats, showed up at Windham with a van full of toys. In total, they presented 12 large cartons of gifts, as well as a shoebox full of gift certificates, to the school’s guidance counselor and representatives from the school’s student council.

“The school could not have been more appreciative,” Malone told members of the Sag Harbor School Board at a meeting last Monday, December 12. “Sag Harbor deserves a nice congratulations.”

The Sag Harbor School District has a special relationship with the Windham School District: it’s where Dr. Gratto had been superintendent before coming to the East End.

After reaching out to the school’s guidance counselor, the Sag Harbor School District received a list of holiday items specifically requested by students at the Windham school. (The list represented items listed by students from 44 families that the Windham guidance counselor identified as being most in need.) Those items were then written on pieces of paper made to look like light bulbs. Members of the Sag Harbor School District were asked to pick a bulb and bring back the corresponding present.

School Board Member Sandi Kruel commented on the enthusiasm Pierson High School students demonstrated during this collection process.

“The student council was basically forcing people to take bulbs off the tree,” she said with a laugh after describing having been relatively accosted by student council members demanding she take a bulb as well. The students did a good job, she concluded.

“Our [high school] students worked very hard to package these gifts,” Dr. Gratto said. And just before their departure up north, he added that students from both Pierson and the elementary school worked together to pile the toys into the administrators’ metaphorical sleigh. (Actually Mr. Malone’s mini van.)

“The Windham community was very appreciative,” he reiterated.

In other news…

Creative Writing Flourishes

“I used to think of writing as a chore, rather than an interactive medium,” Pierson High School senior Drew Devito told members of the Sag Harbor School Board on Monday, December 12. But, he said, that was before he attended the intensive, five-day writing workshop put on by the Young American Writers Project (YAWP) through Stony Brook Southampton.

“My experience there was amazing,” Devito explained. “I learned to appreciate writing a little more than I had before.”

He attended this workshop with four other Pierson students as well as students from around Long Island and one from the Bronx. The students stayed in dorms on the Southampton campus and spent at least eight hours each day participating in free-form writing exercises and a final project.

“Each one of us wrote a finished one-act play,” Devito continued. “Just to say that, in my opinion, it’s an amazing feat.”

The plays ranged from Devito’s humorous, semi-autobiographical account of a lactose-intolerant student who consumes pizza and ice cream with whipped cream on top; to Amanda Gleeson’s play, which she described as a little more abstract.

“It’s a commentary on how society teaches us to alienate touch, and our innate human need for it,” she said.

Sophomore Matthew Frazier’s play — an end-of-the-world thriller about the love between a flame of fire and an ice cube — was chosen from among the bunch to be performed at the Avram Theatre on the Stony Brook Southampton campus this past weekend.

Elementary School Awarded

Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone announced that Sag Harbor Elementary School has been recognized by the Character Education Partnership (CEP) for its “Blue Slip” Awards and its “Soup-er Bowl” Celebration.

Each year, students are awarded “blue slips” by parents or administrators for actions that adhere to the school’s Standards of Behavior. And to celebrate the Super Bowl — instead of veg-ing out on chips and dip — elementary school students gather in the auditorium with a can of soup and predict the winner of the big match by placing their can in a pile for the team of their choice. (All cans are later donated to the Sag Harbor Food Pantry.)

“The joke is that I show up as Howard Cosell,” Malone joked. “And the kids are like, Who’s Howard Cosell?”

CEP, a nonprofit organization that promotes character education programs in schools across the country, honors many schools for programs that demonstrate “promising practices.” This year, Sag Harbor Elementary is one of 260 award winners chosen from an applicant pool of 500.

Gadget-o-Rama 2011

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web sunglasses

The Five Best Gadgets at Consumer Electronics Show
By Anetta Nowosielska

By now you have probably heard about Lady Gaga’s latest collaboration. No, it’s not a dance tune with Madonna that will be on a permanent rotation on every radio station. This time the monstrous pop phenomenon is hooking up with Polaroid to produce Polarez GL20, sunglasses that contain a built-in camera and two 1.7″ OLED screens that can immediately display the photos you have taken right in your face. Come next holiday season you’ll also be able to upload photos to the web right from these very glasses. This is some super duper, futuristic gizmo that could not have found a better spokesperson, who did, after all, wear a dress made out of skirt steak to an award ceremony.

Polarez’ debut took place in Las Vegas during the recent Consumer Electronics Show, world’s largest consumer technology trade show. From home robots to fancy kitchen aids to electronic marvels all about to hit the consumer market, CES is a bit of a checkpoint for how our daily lives are about to be impacted by the latest in electronics. But since I’m not best qualified to assess the significance of the new Bilo e-reader (if I could I would still be using the old, bulky Motorola cellphone,) I’ve asked Melissa Kelley, a self-proclaimed techie, who owns a landscape design company and calls Sag Harbor home, to rank the usefulness of the gadgets heralded as the next best thing.

Toshiba’s CELL TV
A couch potato’s wish come true, Toshiba unveiled CELL TV that operates with gesture technology. One simply has to wave their hands in a specific motion in the air to control the menu, fast-forward movies and turn the volume up or down.
Price and availability: unknown/2011
Melissa’s verdict: It beats looking for the remote or the replacing of dead batteries… this feels very “clap on, clap off …the clapper.”

TCL 3-D TV, without the glasses
3-D TV systems are about to hit the stores. Good news is that the same experience reserved until now for Disney movies at your cinema of choice will be available in your living room. Naturally, the home system will require 3-D glasses, which are expensive and goofy looking not to mention in some cases have caused headaches and nausea.
TCL Corporation has added a layer of rippled lenses to the front of the TV screen to produce the three-dimensional effect taking out the need for 3D. “Basically, we put the glasses that you’d be wearing on the TV,” a TCL spokeswoman said.
Price/availability: unknown/2011
Melissa’ verdict: Fantastic and fun with no pieces to lose.

Inter Reader
This hand-held device scans printed text, converts it to voice and then reads it aloud. Hold it over a page of a book, snap a high-res image of the text and the thing will read it aloud to you almost immediately. It also plays documents you transfer from a computer.
Price/availability: $1500/now
Melissa’s verdict: Why not just read it?

LG Smart Appliance Management System
This year LG unveiled its technology that offers a complete smart solution that lets consumers manage their homes in a more centralized and convenient way. For example, the system easily identifies what is in the refrigerator, as well as where certain items are located and when they expire. This information is also accessible via smart phones or tablet PCs, allowing consumers to reference this while grocery shopping. For minor problems – refrigerator door left open, ice-maker switched off, washing machine off-balance – the appliance alerts the owner either on its display panel or for future models, via a Wi-Fi connection, on the consumer’s smartphone or tablet PC.
Price/availability: unknown/2011
Melissa’s verdict: Now this makes sense. Practical uses for technology are always exciting.

Withing’s Blood Pressure Monitor
Smartphone-connected blood pressure monitor that transfers home blood pressure readings onto the iPhone. Users then can send that data to a doctor, personal trainer and friends on social networks.
Price/availability: $129/now
Melissa’s verdict: Must we broadcast every thing these days? Sometimes it is nice to have personal interaction especially with your doctor.

A Bounty of Baskets

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web baskets Local gift sets with heart and soul By Marissa Maier At the beginning of this week, Sag Harbor Florist & Gift Shop owner Anastasia Casale and her staff stocked, decorated and dispatched 50 customized gift baskets. And Casale’s phone is still ringing with calls for fresh orders. In the final countdown to the holidays she will whip up dozens of new creations of carefully arranged local cheeses, gourmet sweets, scented candles, handpicked wines and the occasional miniature poinsettia — all wrapped up and adorned with orchid stems. The local florist, Casale explained, has always been expected to create a last minute fruit basket but she along with other local businesses are elevating this service to a highly curated, and often personalized, collection of presents. “We wanted to offer something different and give the baskets a new spark,” Schiavoni’s IGA Market manager Matt Schiavoni remarked of the Sag Harbor grocery store’s line of themed gift baskets that were introduced this year. The prefabricated sets start at $49.95 for “The Hostess” which features a sampling of crackers, chocolates, fruits, nuts and three types of cheeses: Jarlsberg, Brie and Havarti. On the high end of this collection is the “Large Italian.” The basket is filled with goodies from the Mediterranean country like biscotti, risotto, olive oil, San Pellegrino mineral water and the IGA’s signature Italian coffee blend. Instead of the standard basket, the $89.95 set is arranged in a wicker tray. For the gift giver who prefers a local touch, IGA offers the “Hamptons Selection” for $59.95. The basket is composed of regionally produced foods like Mich’s Maccs chocolate macaroons, Hampton’s Coffee, North Fork chips, Really Good Jam from Cutchogue and Schiavoni’s Market nuts. Java Nation Coffee Roasters farther up Main Street infuse their baskets with in-house brews and teas. The business’ $26 small sampler includes a tin of Java Nation’s premium green tea blend, fudge truffles, a sachet of Chai tea, honey and a plaster mug. The more extensive $46 version adds chocolates, gourmet hot cocoa mixes, cookies and a travel mug. For the cafe connoisseur, Java Nation offers the $32 collection, which mixes staples like a half pound of the house blend and coffee filters with treats like hot cocoa and cookies. The Schmitz family, owners and operators of Sag Harbor Liquor Store on Main Street, will work up through Christmas Eve finishing their customized baskets. From a simple two bottle wine pair to a set filled with cheese, chocolates and fruit, the Schmitz’s accommodate each customer’s vision and budget. “We do it all,” Heidi Schmitz said of the store’s creations. The average basket of two bottles of wine and a few noshes costs around $50, she estimated, but noted that her family tries to work with every price point. While the pre-made glass and bottle gift sets tend to stay on the shelves, the store’s gift basket service is wildly popular. Schmitz believes East End customers prefer the personal touch of a tailor made gift basket. “We are in the basket market,” Michael Cavaniola remarked of the South Fork. Cavaniola owns the trio of eponymous Sag Harbor cheese, wine and food shops that sit in a row along Division Street and from real estate closings to construction companies, his team organizes gift arrangements throughout the year. And Cavaniola has put his own twist on the basket concept with sets that are either enclosed in a chicken wire container or laid out on a wood cutting board, then wrapped up and decorated. Each basket is personally built though the average, said Cavaniola, costs roughly $60. Unlike national businesses that specialize in pre-made gift baskets, local arrangements offer higher quality products and more of it, Cavaniola said. Casale agreed and added that her expertise is poured into each gift basket. Her sets cost $65 and up and are custom built to meet the customers’ criteria, be it a yoga theme or gluten free foods. She orders from a collection of purveyors and adds items sold in her Sag Harbor store such as candles, decorations and a signature line of French bonbons created by noted pastry chef Jean-François Bonnet. “It’s more special to shop locally,” Casale said. “There is a level of quality in these baskets. They are baskets with some heart and soul.” Sag Harbor Florist & Gift Shop – 3 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, 725-1400. Schiavoni’s IGA Market – 48 Main Street, Sag Harbor, 725-0366. Java Nation – 78 Main Street, Sag Harbor, 725-0500. Sag Harbor Liquor Store — 52 Main Street, Sag Harbor, 725-0054. Cavaniola’s Cheese Shop — 89 Division Street, Sag Harbor, 725-0095.