The New Interdisciplinary School held its inaugural Winter Ball at Windows on the Lake in Ronkonkoma on Feb. 13 celebrating the integration of children with and without disabilities.
The event honored two longstanding volunteers at this nonprofit preschool – Gregory Colichio, Man of the Year, and Ellen Sullivan, Woman of the Year. Both of these volunteers received awards and made heartfelt speeches explaining why they dedicated so many years of service to this school, years after their children graduated.
One of the school’s founders, Chris Petersen, the school’s librarian who just recently retired, spoke of her experiences at the school since its inception in 1976, and spoke of Ellen’s years of volunteerism throughout her tenure there. Jay Silverstein, Executive Director, and Susan Cali, Director of Development explained how despite the school’s immense growth, the school of nearly 400 students, still maintained its “family feel” and stood apart from similar schools because of the integration opportunities it offers to children with and without disabilities.
This fundraiser, which drew a crowd of over 100 guests, featured a variety of raffle prizes, music, dancing and dinner. There were a variety of individual and corporate sponsors, whose names were scrolled on a slideshow on the many television screens surrounding the dance floor. The money raised will help benefit the students and families at the New Interdisciplinary School, whose main site is in Yaphank, but also has programs in the Patchogue-Medford, South Country and Longwood School Districts.
Susan Cali, Director of Development, explained that programs such as their integrated sports and fitness program, respite, swimming and buddy programs would not be possible without fundraising dollars. Personalized bricks were also sold to add to the school’s new sensory garden, also built with fundraising dollars. They also recently built a playground and a sensory pathway in their school. She explained that all of the unique services that make NIS stand apart from other similar schools are those that are made possible through fundraising dollars.
This event is one of many held by the school. Coming up next are the Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner they hold with their affiliate IGHL on March 13, the ABC Autism Fundraiser at the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Babylon on April 25, and their largest fundraiser of
the year, their golf outing, taking place on June 1 at the Port Jefferson Country Club. All guests were encouraged to attend.