I had the opportunity to interview Chris Cioffoletti, a 2010 Byram Hills graduate and a first-year cadet attending West Point Academy. He shared some fascinating stories about the grueling application process, daily life on campus, and his personal preparations for the possibility of serving his country at war.
The United States Military Academy at West Point, located 50 miles north of New York City, is renowned as the world’s premier institution of leadership development. West Point develops its cadets intellectually, physically, militarily, ethically, and socially. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,400. Each year approximately 1,000 cadets graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. This is not your typical college. The application process is extremely intense. Once you get in, you must survive basic training and the tough rituals of daily life. After completing four years of hard mental and physical work with a BS degree, it’s time to give the Army five years dedicated to the protection of this great country!
Chris always had an interest in West Point and the armed services. When he was a child, his father was in the Air Force. As a young boy, his family visited West Point Academy many times. Chris says that having his father as his role model helped him to set his own goal, and for Chris that was West Point!
The process of applying to West Point is complex and starts in one’s junior year of high school. Aside from sending transcripts and written essays, there is a wide range of medical tests that you must pass. The Army is “investing” in you as a cadet. If you are accepted into the historic academy, your tuition is free and you also receive a monthly stipend. Assuming you pass the medical tests, you must also pass the physical assessment, which includes sit-ups, pushups and other calisthenics performed at a Herculerian pace.
In addition, all applicants to the Academy must secure a letter of recommendation from a senator or a congressman. Chris started by contacting Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gilibrand, and Vice President Joseph Biden. Finally, what Chris describes as “the most intense interview I had ever been through,” he was ultimately given a letter of recommendation from New York’s 18th Congressional District Representative, Nita Lowey. Each congressman or senator is allowed to nominate approximately ten candidates to the Academy each year, but the Academy can only chose two of those candidates.
Chris’s acceptance to West Point Academy was exciting. Congresswoman Lowey called his home and congratulated him personally. Then, an admissions officer from West Point drove to Byram Hills High School, called him out of class, and presented an acceptance letter to Chris with the principal of the high school and others looking on.
West Point gives its far less breaks than any other institution. Other than that, it’s all work and no play. To put it in Chris’ words, “there is absolutely no down time.” Every morning starts well before 6am. Students take part either in individual physical training or their team sport's practice. They meet for formation at 7am, and their rooms are checked daily to see that they are orderly and immaculate. The rest of their day is filled with classes, more physical training or team sport practice, dinner, and homework. The Academy purposely overloads a student so that he or she will learn how to manage his or her time efficiently. Chris admits, “sometimes it wears on you and you feel so beat down.” Fortunately, he has a supportive family and stays connected with them through the phone calls and emails. He also enjoys letters from home, and says that they make him feel strong again.
Chris told me that West Point tries to give their students the tools they need to survive in war. It’s not an easy task, but that is why the Academy prepares you eleven months a year for four straight years. He concedes that “it’s scary and intimidating to contemplate going to war. We all think about it, it’s normal.” But by the time you complete your four years at West Point, you are prepared for your next calling. Most seniors who graduate are confident and ready; Chris can see it their faces. They are not scared for themselves; they are scared for their team. When you become a part of a squad of West Point, Chris explained, you never think about yourself. You always think about others and your efforts together! It starts from the day you move into the dorm. Each dorm has 130 students of different ages, races, genders, and classes. The brigade is taught to work together, live together and survive together. Chris already feels that West Point has given him so many opportunities in his first semester. He has learned better interpersonal skills, strengthened his mind, and intensified his desire to serve his classmates and his Country.
“West Point is looking for well-rounded students with leadership qualities,” Chris says. His advice to high school students who want an education at West Point is start preparing early. Call your Congressperson as soon as possible to put a face on your application. And don’t give up if this is your dream. Many of Chris’s classmates did not get into West Point on their first try. They enlisted or had some cadet training and then tried again. Many of his freshman classmates are much older than he is. "Don’t ever give up," Chris says, "no soldier does!"
It was an honor to meet Chris Cioffoletti. He is a young man who loves his Country, and the Academy, has a great appreciation for his education, and a calm sense of discipline and rectitude. Our town and our country are proud of you and your dedication!
Happy 100th Birthday to Frances Fierro
June 28, 2016 Frances Fierro arrived at the Armonk House for Sunday brunch to celebrate her 100th birthday with 65 family members and friends. Fierro is one of 14 children, and one of five remaining siblings.
Guests who traveled to the celebration came as far away as Pennsylvania and others from Monticello, NY. Her two grandsons Joseph Zappala, from Fishkill, and Johnny Zappala, from Yorktown said their Grandmother lives on her own in the Bronx in the same house since 1940. She is predeceased by her husband.
World War II Veteran Ralph Capasso Takes Part in Hudson Valley Honor Flight By Jackson Harrower
May 4, 2016 Armonk resident Ralph Capasso will take part in the Hudson Valley Honor Flight to Washington D.C. on May 14. Mr. Capasso will join 64 veterans for the flight to see the Washington D.C. war memorials. The group will visit 25 venues in one day and the members will be honored for their brave service for our country.
Mr. Capasso was drafted into World War II in 1945 at the age of 18. He was originally assigned to be a combat infantryman, but after the armistice he served as a Military Police Officer in Le Havre, France, and later Paris. As part of his job as a Military Police Officer (MP) he spent extensive time working with the CIA, including raiding harbors for illegal substances. He and 150 other MPs bunked in a former department store. He also spent time in London and Germany. He attended a military school in Brake, Germany at a facility that was a former SS trooper camp. He recalls many unique stories such as the time he rebuilt a piano he found in the rain by hand in hopes of restoring it to playing condition. He was discharged in July of 1947 and went on to serve 22 years as a New York City police officer.
Mezz Talks the Talk, Walks the Walk
December 12, 2015 A town is only as good as its people and their volunteer commitments, said Guy Mezzancello, who is stepping down after one year serving on the Town Board. “North Castle is a reflection of all its volunteer board members who give their expertise and time to the community to make it a better place for everyone.”
Mezzancello’s term expires at the end of this year. Last year, he was elected in a special election to the seat of the final year of Michael Schiliro’s four-year term, when Schiliro was elected Supervisor.
Honored to serve, yet not re-elected, Mezz, his preferred nickname, is a humble man of grace and gratitude. He has lived in North Castle since 1983 and said he has volunteered to give back whatever he could. Whether it’s as a Town Board member, Planning Board member, member of St. Patrick Church in Armonk who spearheaded St. Francis Hall, or Commissioner of the Armonk Baseball League (ABL), he was always thinking of how to make this town a better place.
Reporting about North Castle’s Town Board update at his last meeting on December 9, Mezz said what you see today in our town is partly because of its volunteers and a reflection of the hard work of many people.
Mezz, who sat on the Planning Board for four years prior to serving on the Town Board, said he observed many changes over the years in North Castle. “The last five years have been great to this town. What other town can you go to that has athletic fields, two golf courses, Kensico Dam, Westchester County Airport, DeCicco’s market and the newest addition of the White Plains Hospital Urgent Care Center?” asked Mezz. “We should be grateful that we have such good residents,” he concluded before he wished his successor, Jose Berra, well.
“Everyone is a benefactor of what Guy has done for this town,” said Schiliro. “Look at the enormity of his efforts and contributions. When you are coaching your kids playing ball, think about who was behind the renovation of Lombardi Park’s Clark Field. When they play under the lights at the ball fields at Community Park, think of Guy who gave his free time and materials, before, during and after his chairmanship at ABL. People like Guy are a perfect example of why this town is as great as it is.” His legacy is that we’ll enjoy the fruits of his labor long beyond his service.
Town Historian Celebrates 90th Birthday
September 12, 2013 North Castle's Town Historian, Doris Finch Watson, was surrounded by family and friends as she cheerfully celebrated her 90th birthday at the Banksville Fire Department. Roughly fifty guests shared stories about time spent with Ms. Watson over the years at the Middle Patent School House, her family's general store Finch's, and at Smith's Tavern.
As North Castle's Town Historian and a lifelong North Castle resident, Ms. Watson has a great sense of where the community has been as well as an intuition about what the future will bring, said her good friend, Ambassador Donald Gregg, another longtime North Castle resident.
Ms. Watson's involvement with the community remains strong as she has worked with many organizations, including the Banksville Community Center, the Banksville Fire Department, The North Castle Historical Society, the Middle Patent Rural Cemetery, and the Elijah Miller House (the headquarters of George Washington in North White Plains). Ms. Watson was a founding member of the Friends of the Miller House. Her breadth of knowledge of the history of our town is deep and is called upon often.
Guests shared stories about times spent with the birthday girl. Ms. Watson's volunteering never ends, said one friend, "You are no age, but are forever young."
Another friend said Ms. Watson's wisdom, experience, knowledge and passion permeates this whole town while her contributions are ageless, like her.
Ms. Watson introduced her family of several generations and fondly mentioned her 50-year marriage to her now deceased husband, Bill Watson.
When the birthday cake appeared, Ms. Watson thanked everyone for joining her and for being friends, some for 80 years.
Winthrop’s Aaron E. Katz, MD, Elected President of the American College of Cryosurgery
August 7, 2014 Armonk resident Aaron E. Katz, MD, Chairman of the Department of Urology at Winthrop-University Hospital, has been elected for a two-year term as President of the American College of Cryosurgery (ACC). In this role, Dr. Katz will help the ACC to promote the highest possible standards in clinical practice, continuing education and research in cryosurgery (a technique for freezing and killing abnormal cells).
Dr. Katz is an internationally recognized expert in the field of minimally invasive therapies for prostate cancer. A pioneer in the field of prostate cryosurgery, he has taught over 100 urologists nationwide how to perform the procedure and was instrumental in seeking and obtaining Medicare’s approval of it.
The ACC maintains a strong commitment to promoting and encouraging public interest in cryotherapy. By providing a scientific forum for the exchange of ideas and methodology for cryosurgery and related sciences, the ACC strives to foster advancements in cryomedicine and ablative therapies.
Different, Not Less By A.J. Brodsky
June 10, 2014 We've all been told not to point and stare at people. But some people don't have the luxury of others turning their cheeks. Born with diastrophic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism, Geri Mariano visits schools to talk about what living with her condition is like and how it's okay to look different. She stresses how important it is to love yourself for who you are and not what you look like.
Geri was born in White Plains Hospital where her birth parents abandoned her. She was fortunate enough to be transferred to Blythedale Children's Hospital where she was taken care of by the nursing staff for a year and a half before being adopted by Bill and Doris Mariano. Her adoptive parents saw her for who she was: a human being who deserved to be loved. Finding a school for Geri proved to be difficult. She was turned away from multiple schools before Byram Hills opened its doors. She wasn't treated any differently than the other children at the school. Everyone was equal. She experienced bullying minimally throughout her grade school career, and she is proud to be a Bobcat.
Ms. Mariano now spends her days as a motivational speaker. She travels to schools where she speaks about her life growing up and how she lives today. Geri loves to travel around the world to places like Antigua and Italy. She even goes horseback riding at dude ranches. Geri is a courageous individual who won't let her condition stop her from living her life. She may still get a few looks and snickers here and there, but she can brush them off. After all, nobody's perfect.
Armonk Indoor Sports Center Joins with GAGA to Aid Alzheimer's Care By Nomi Schwartz
November 25, 2013 Armonk Indoor Sports Center (AI) is hosting a sports festival in conjunction with the Byram Hills High School Growth and Awareness Group for Alzheimer's (GAGA) on Saturday, December 7 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at its facility at 205 Business Park Drive. Tennis and soccer players from ages 4 to 10 are invited to participate in games and instruction led by members of the BHHS varsity tennis and soccer teams along with Armonk Indoor's professional coaching staff. All proceeds from the event, including a requested donation of $25 and a bake sale, will go directly to the Alzheimer's Association for care, treatment, and research of the disease.
This special event resulted from a collaboration between AI's director and BHHS varsity tennis coach Tim Shea and Max Levy, BHHS senior and member of the school's varsity tennis team. Levy founded GAGA (BHHS Growth and Awareness Group for Alzheimer's) after his grandmother passed away from Alzheimer's Disease just before the start of his freshman year. "I started the club the following year as a way to spread awareness of the disease and to raise money," Levy said. "Each year research goes incredibly underfunded and knowledge [about Alzheimer's] is sparse."
According to Levy, "Tim, my varsity coach at BHHS since my freshman year and my sister's coach before me, approached me after this year's Walk to End Alzheimer's with a proposal to do a joint soccer and tennis clinic at Armonk Indoor to benefit Alzheimer's research."
The plans quickly fell into place with the help of AI staff. A date was selected, a website posted on the AI site, and publicity was organized. "The guys at AI were incredibly easy to work with," said Levy. "I've been training at AI for many years now and know most of the guys there very well. They were incredibly helpful through the planning process and were just as excited as I was to see such a great thing happen here in Armonk. We all want to spread awareness throughout the community about this killer disease and financially support efforts to find a cure in conjunction with the National Alzheimer's Association."
Participants are requested to make a donation of $25 or more. All money collected will go directly to the Alzheimer's Association. Please register online at www.armonkindoor.com/alz.html and then bring a check payable to the Alzheimer's Association to the event.
For more information, contact Armonk Indoor Sports Center at (914) 273-8522 or GAGA president Max Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 14, 2016 In May 2016, Tina Sacchetti opened Rye Brook Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Rye Brook, where Sacchetti who is an Armonk Mom, recently celebrated her 30th anniversary as a chiropractor.
The integrated practice of the Rye Brook Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is broader than what most chiropractors offer. Sacchetti’s practice, combining chiropractic care, physical therapy, physiatry, and health and lifestyle counseling, is all under one roof. Together, the doctors create a comprehensive personal approach to accelerate the healing process.
Sacchetti decided to be a chiropractor while in college after her own positive experience with a chiropractor. She graduated from New York Chiropractic College in 1986 and went on to receive a certification in electrodiagnosis in 2004.
Today, there is an excessive use of technology, and Sacchetti says with everyone constantly looking down at their phones, this position affects the muscles and nerves, and reverses the curve of the neck. This causes muscle strain and nerve interference. In many cases, a change of work place ergonomics can have a positive impact.
Sacchetti founded and ran a chiropratic practice in Thornwood until she sold it in 2008. Now in Rye Ridge, Sacchetti and her associates offer a combined synergy of healing modalities. In the future, they plan to add acupuncture and massage therapy to the group.
Happy 104th Birthday to Winnie Miller
January 21, 2016 Winifred Miller turned 104 years old last week. The nearby Armonk resident now resides at the Westchester Meadows retirement community in Valhalla. The Millers lived in the Usonia neighborhood from the 1950s through the 1980s. Mrs. Miller was married to the former Harry Miller. They had three children; Patricia, Tom, and Ken who attended the Byram Hills School District. Mrs. Miller has six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Her identical twin sister, Sally, lived to be nearly 101-years-old. The two Carr sisters were born in 1912. That year the 27th President was William Howard Taft. New Mexico was admitted as the 47th state and in February, Arizona was admitted as the 48th state. In April 1912, the Titanic sailed. Fenway Park opened as the new home for the Boston Red Sox who won the World Series in 1912. Ironically, two former First Ladies were born in 1912, Lady Bird Johnson and Pat Nixon. The leading entertainers of 1912 were Al Jolson and Enrico Caruso. The heavyweight champion was “Jack” Johnson. “Jim” Thorpe won two gold medals at the Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.
Winnie Miller may well be the oldest living resident in the area, past and present. She was born been before WWI, and lived to see the moon landing, as well as countless technological innovations such as radio, TV, computers, modern medicine, automobiles, airplane travel and other commonplace items of today that were once science fiction marvels in stories by “H.G.” Wells and Jules Verne.
Mrs. Miller has witnessed so much during her century-plus years. All About Armonk wishes her a wonderful 104th birthday.
Marian Hamilton, Founder of The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center at NWH, Named Top Caregiver in the Country
October 5, 2014 Northern Westchester Hospital is proud to announce that Marian Hamilton, founder of The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center (KHCC) at Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH), received top honors from the Caregiver Action Network (CAN). In a list of “25 of the Nation’s Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement,” Ms. Hamilton was named the top “Outstanding Caregiver” in the country.
CAN’s “Advancing Excellence: Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement” Recognition Program identified the top 25 examples of caregivers, patients, hospital staff, and hospital systems that are creating innovative programs to help ensure healthier outcomes for patients.
The list of “25 of the Nation’s Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement,” descriptions of each of the 25 programs, and the final report can be found here.
“Once again, Marian’s dedication to helping family caregivers is being recognized, earlier this year by the Volunteer Center of the United Way, and now the Caregiver Action Network,” said Joel Seligman, President and CEO, Northern Westchester Hospital. “She continues to inspire us, our patients, and caregivers who benefit greatly from the resources offered at the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center here at Northern Westchester Hospital.”
Marian Hamilton founded the KHCC after losing her husband, Ken, in 2004 to a rare form of lung cancer. While she knew that Ken was receiving great care, she felt overwhelmed navigating the complex healthcare system while raising two daughters.
She envisioned a place for caregivers within a hospital where they could “refuel and recharge,” as well as find trained, caring individuals to talk to. The center offers free supportive services to anyone providing care to a loved one, whether or not they are a patient at NWH, including monthly caregiver support groups and community resource referrals.
“I am grateful to the Caregiver Action Network for this recognition,” said Ms. Hamilton. “The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center is successful because we provide incredibly meaningful services to caregivers – supportive services that allow them attend to their own needs while they selflessly care for their loved ones. It is encouraging to see more and more healthcare institutions around the country replicate our program. It is truly gratifying.”
“The Caregiver Action Network is pleased to recognized Marian Hamilton and her innovative vision for caregiver support,” said John Schall, Chief Executive Officer of CAN. “What started as a personal endeavor for Marian, has evolved into a comprehensive program at The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center at Northern Westchester Hospital. Its proven value has been successfully replicated by others over the last nine years. Marian deserves this national recognition because of her incredibly inspirational and impactful efforts to address the largely unmet needs of the family caregiver.”
January 28, 2014 Ralph spends a lot of time at home now with his wife, Ann, of 64 years. Much of that time is spent working on model railroads that he began collecting seriously in 2005. It started 40 years ago in the lower level of his house, with a train set with his five kids, on the pool table.
Now the room is filled with models everywhere that the eye can see--fully rigged with tracks, trains, tunnels, bridges, headlights, and scenic landscaping. Once he seriously started collecting trains, it was just a matter of months before he had over 31 sets. Ralph says he enjoys spending so much time on building the railroad models. "Time gets lost when you enjoy what you are doing."
As one of the trains gets trapped under a tunnel, Ralph says, "I'll work on that." His work is never done as the tunnel elevations have to be precise in order for the trains to clear. There are multiple tracks on different platforms that vary in size. The layouts range in size from Z gauge of the smaller trains up to larger O gauge freight trains. The various trains come in different sizes in the classic Lionel and Bachmann models. Among the collection is a 1936 Blue Comet Lionel that cost his father $27--three weeks pay--when Ralph was 9 years old.
Ralph is no stranger to building and mechanics. About 50 years ago he designed and built his home in Armonk, where he and his wife brought up their four sons and a daughter, all graduates of Byram Hills High School. In the late 1940s, Ralph was a mechanic at a Lincoln Mercury dealer in the Bronx. In 1963, he built his house on property that he bought in Armonk in 1960. When he was first married, he and his wife and some neighbors used to go to the Log Cabin and Ox Yoke in Armonk. "They had a piano player when you walked in; life was simpler."
Serving 22 years as a New York City policeman in Fort Apache in the Bronx, Ralph is in his 37th year of retirement. Ralph also drove Byram Hills School buses in the late 1970s when he was known as the “yellow flash.” But he hasn't slowed down much: he was an avid skier until a recent accident caused a knee injury, when he was cranking 500 pounds of a railroad case.
The 500-pound plexiglass case is in pristine condition. It sits on wheels, and under the glass the tracks are doubled, while some other platforms are tripled, allowing two or three trains to run at one time. Ralph sits at the controls of each platform running the transformers, bringing the trains around and then dead-ending them.
Some tracks hang from the ceiling by chains and brackets that are attached to strap steel that frames the acoustic-tiled ceiling that he installed 50 years ago. The precision of measurement is essential in the proper angles to keep the suspended tracks functioning properly. The ceiling trains run on 9-volt batteries that must be turned on by hand. The connections have to be kept unplugged to avoid the batteries from draining.
Ralph says he was always a jock--he skied and played softball. But he also loved playing the piano (semi-classical and modern music), which he still plays two or three times a week even though he can't read a note of music. He remembers when as a kid in 1930s, he lived in a railroad flat on the Upper East Side. His family was moving and they set up a block-and-tackle to move the piano out of the window. He had hoped to go to the Juilliard School of Music on the GI Bill. But when he returned home from his service as an MP in Paris, Belgium and Germany, his Dad told him to get a civil service job.
There seems to be never-ending work that needs to be done on the railroads. Ralph says he has to run wires to the main source to rev up the power to the suspended models that are running slow. Two trains gently collided and that fix requires a spacer between the tracks. Ralph's knowledge from his work with the United States space program, where he worked in micrometers, is useful. The condition of the tracks is critical. The entire set-up is committed to memory; fortunately, his recall is incredible. One thing on his to-do list is to rig up hundreds of small lights for the aesthetic effect. Ralph has a great zest for life. He says he wants to live to 100. "I can do everything I did, just maybe not as fast."
Memoir of a Retired Ambassador and Intelligence Officer
Married for 61 years to Meg Curry Gregg, a native Armonk girl, Donald P. Gregg has written a memoir of his experiences because he felt the need to share his story with his family. Gregg wrote Pot Shards for his three children so that they would have a greater sense of what he had done and why. As an United States Central Intelligence Officer, he was rarely able to talk about his job.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Gregg graciously entertained a group that attended a book signing where he spoke about writing Pot Shards. Although there aren't any references in the book to his intelligence work in Japan, Gregg says he had to have the book cleared by the CIA as “there was extreme sensitivity about anything I had done in Japan.”
Gregg has taken a pen to paper to tell his story and shared bits and pieces of some serious worldly narratives, and he also provides some entertaining storytelling.
He was amazed at what surfaced as he wrote the book. Gregg remembered back to before he departed Japan in 1969 when a friend held a farewell geisha party at one of the oldest and most distinguished houses. “Four elderly women were sitting on the floor. They wore no make up, but were really handsome,” says Gregg. “They absolutely took me apart in terms of their humor and manipulation.” The women whispered “womanizer” in Japanese, although he didn’t think the phrase applied to him; as he wrote the book, the Japanese phrase came to mind, something he hadn’t thought of in 40 years.
“In writing this book,” Gregg said, “I hope it will make people realize what a magnificent [United States] President George Herbert Walker Bush was.” As national security advisor to Vice President Bush, Gregg went to 65 countries with Bush and dealt with many dignitaries, from England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Gregg said that Bush was a magnificent diplomat--he was vicarious and made sound judgments; Bush brought the Cold War to a close through his relationship with Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev. Bush pushed United States President Ronald Reagan to meet with Gorbachev multiple times during Reagan’s second term. “I was in the White House for all eight years of Reagan’s presidency,” says Gregg, “and I refer to Bush as the rudder on Reagan’s sailboat. The two met one-on-one weekly.”
The title of the book was chosen from Gregg’s experiences in both Japan and Korea. He was fascinated by the pot shards that litter those countries. “When I often held one in my hand, I would think: What was it like when this was whole and why do certain memories survive, just as pot shards do, and the rest are gone?”
Shattered by his father’s death when he was 16, Gregg enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1945. In 1947, he attended Williams College where he majored in philosophy and was influenced by Professor John William Miller, who was then head of the Philosophy Department. Miller “urged his students to act upon what they believed in and to ‘cut behind appearance to reality.’" Miller also frequently said, "Man does not have a nature, he has a history" for which he is responsible. Miller’s quotes stuck with Gregg and shaped his thinking and helped him deal with his duties as an Intelligence Officer.
Gregg said further, “I was undercover in the bowels of the State Department. I remember when my daughter was about 13 and she asked about a neighbor who won a 'Best Father Award.' I said, 'He’s a good guy.' My daughter then asked, ‘Why aren’t you getting any awards like that? When are you going to become an ambassador?’ I told her I’m never going to become an ambassador. She said, ‘Why don’t you join some organization that you can get to the top?’” He then laughed at the eventual irony of her question. Gregg was America's Ambassador to South Korea, stationed in Seoul from 1989 to 1993. He continued that he was tempted to tell her that he was part of such an organization, “yet if I had told her, she would have had to lie and that’s why I didn’t.”
Pot Shards is an effort to explain some things that the Gregg children may not have understood at the time that they were happening. He hopes that they can understand them more fully now. Gregg also hopes that the book will appeal to a wide audience, offering information that will connect with everyone.
Byram Hills Student Excels in Music and Science
October 1, 2013 Byram Hills senior Inbal Hirschmann has performed four times at Carnegie Hall and won the American Fine Arts Competition as a solo pianist. She also finished third in the American Fine Arts Festival's International Concerto Competition.
Inbal has taken private lessons in music theory, music history and ear training at the Manhattan School of Music, but also has a passion for the sciences. For the past two years, she has conducted research in schizophrenia and depression at both the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University and Sha'ar Manashe, a psychiatric hospital in Israel. Inbal has been chosen to be a part of Columbia University's Honors Science Program, and has spent every Saturday for the last two years at Columbia taking classes in Neuroscience, Human Physiology and Mathematical Theory.
Somehow, Inbal has also found time to volunteer in community service at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and at New York University's Langone Medical Center.
Taking the most rigorous curriculum at Byram Hills, Inbal is a straight A student. She is an active competitor in the Academic Challenge. She is also involved in Byram Hills community services, including Youth Against Cancer and tutoring middle school students in a variety of subjects.
Last summer, Inbal worked in a garden landscape center cafe. "I learned how to work with the public," says Inbal, "and how to use a cash register and keep a steady job."
Needless to say, her parents are proud.
Brothers Successfully Patent Life Support Device By Eden Arielle Gordon
July 22, 2014 When Armonk native John DiCapua began his research on cardiac arrest, he was inspired by his experiences in the Boy Scouts. During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) lessons, he noticed that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation often was ineffective or difficult for rescuers to perform so he set out to find a way to improve the effectiveness of bystander aid for victims suffering from heart attacks.
Today, roughly eight years later, John and his brother, Christopher, have successfully patented an invention that does just that. The AVAC, or Automated Ventilator with Assisted Compressions, is a compact ventilator for life support that can be used with an automatic external defibrillator (AED). The AVAC is made to be used easily and has the potential to alter the standard practice for emergency treatment of heart attacks.
The majority of the DiCapuas’ work began in the Science Research program at Byram Hills High School. John’s project began by examining different methods by which the lay public could respond to cardiac arrest. His initial experiment revealed that the average person could be taught to use an airway device called the i-Gel, usually reserved for professionals, and that this method was actually more effective than mouth-to-mouth ventilation and bag mask ventilation, the other two most commonly used methods of responding to heart attacks. For his work, John was recognized as a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.
John’s research was continued by his brother, Christopher, upon his entry into the Science Research program. Christopher expanded on the effectiveness of the i-Gel, developing a portable ventilator that provides oxygen automatically instead of manually. This allows the rescuer to perform chest compressions on the victim without having to stop to pump oxygen. Christopher was also recognized as an Intel semi-finalist for his work.
The device that the brothers ultimately developed, the AVAC, required the extensive application of mechanical and electrical engineering on Christopher’s part. Eventually, the AVAC was successfully tested and reduced the time rescuers spent not performing compressions and that were needed by the rescuer to perform breathing for heart attack victims.
After further study, the AVAC was proven to be more effective than standard CPR with the potential to increase survival for victims experiencing cardiac arrest; it was granted a patent. John and Christopher DiCapua hope to continue their studies, setting their sights on expanding the effectiveness of the AVAC and possibly combining it with automatic external defibrillators to reduce complications involved in the use of both devices.
In the meantime, John will graduate this year from Johns Hopkins University with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering. He is pursuing a graduate degree at JHU and plans to attend medical school in the future. Christopher will be a sophomore this fall at Union College where he is in an 8-year B.S., M.B.A. and M.D. program.
The brothers, having successfully patented their invention--a first for the Byram Hills Science Research program--will continue to work to expand their research, and this will certainly not be the last time their names are recognized as innovators in the healthcare field.