Palm Beach County students bring hope to struggling families in NOLA

Joshua Berkowitz, Spencer Linkhorst and Andrew Taylor collect and sort canned goods at Second Harvest Food Bank in New Orleans. The second annual community service opportunity for Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Project Tikvah (Hebrew for “hope”), is aimed at making a lasting impact by serving those in need. Submitted photo

Twenty-one Jewish teens from Palm Beach County rolled up their sleeves to serve as they were immersed in the culture of New Orleans this week.

RELATED: How a trip to South Carolina gave Gardens teens a lesson in gratitude

Beignets were on the menu, but so too was packing food for the 1 in 6 hungry families in the area served by the Second Harvest Food Bank. The teens sorted donated Mardi Gras beads that will be sold by the Arc of Greater New Orleans to benefit its programs for people with intellectual disabilities. They worked on a building a house.

Palm Beach County high school students volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank in New Orleans as part of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. Submitted photo

Hope Lerman, a 16-year-old junior at Dwyer High School, was inspired by meeting a woman who was helped by the home-building organization and told the group about the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina, even 12 years later.

“It made our work very meaningful,” Lerman said.

The experience taught her to be content with what she has and make the most of it, she said.

It’s the second year for Project Tikvah, a hands-on service program named after the Hebrew word for “hope.” The teens’ trip was organized by the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Jewish Teen Initiative and new Jewish Volunteer Center, according to a news release.

Evan Josza, a 16-year-old junior at The Benjamin School, said he enjoyed sorting the thousands of pounds of donated Mardi Gras beads. The Arc also pay people with disabilities minimum wage or more for their work sorting and reselling the beads.

“I thought that was really impactful, because not only did it give those people jobs, it benefited their organization. All the money just keeps coming right back,” Josza said. “It helps them grow.”

The group ate at Cafe Reconcile, which helps young adults ages 16 to 24 learn hospitality skills. The fried oyster po’boy with spinach artichoke aioli, fries and bread pudding were a hit with Zachary Jacobson, a 16-year-old junior at Wellington High School.

Sorting the food at the food bank was Jacobson’s favorite service project. He proudly sported a sticker with the words, “I fed someone today.”

“I’ve learned not to take things for granted,” he said. “It really puts things into perspective.”

TONIGHT: Dwyer H.S. freshman to be featured on NBC Nightly News

Kayla Abramowitz, 14 of North Palm Beach, will be featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. You can watch with her at the Duffy’s on PGA Boulevard and U.S. 1. Courtesy photo

Kayla Abramowitz, a North Palm Beach teen who has collected items for children’s hospitals in all 50 states, will be featured on national news Monday night.

READ: North Palm Beach teen honored with national award

The William T. Dwyer High School freshman got the idea for her Kayla Cares 4 Kids nonprofit when she was just 11 years old after noticing a limited selection of DVDs during her own hospital stays for Crohn’s disease, colitis and juvenile arthritis. She founded the nonprofit in 2013 to collect entertainment and educational materials for kids like her.

RELATED: It’s more than business for this seventh grader

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, which starts at 6:30 p.m., will feature a large donation the charity made to Ronald McDonald House in Miami. Kayla Cares 4 Kids donated 31 DVD players – one for each family’s room, 100 DVDs and dozens of books, according to the organization. Support from the community, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures and Philomel Books made the donation possible.

Kayla’s family and supporters are holding a watch party starting 6 p.m. at Duffy’s Sports Grill, 11588 U.S. Highway 1, in the Oakbrook Square Shopping Center in North Palm Beach. The shopping center is at the corner of PGA Boulevard and U.S. 1. The segment runs at the end of Nightly News.

Abramowitz is in the finance program at Dwyer. In 2015, she was named the National Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Late drama teacher Duncan’s protégés performing Shakespeare for bash

Palm Beach State College professor Watson B. Duncan III with the two actors he discovered who became famous: Burt Reynolds, left, and Monte Markham, right.
Palm Beach State College professor Watson B. Duncan III with the two actors he discovered who became famous: Burt Reynolds, left, and Monte Markham, right.

Watson B. Duncan’s former drama students are giving the late Shakespeare fanatic a fitting birthday tribute at the Palm Beach Gardens school that bears his name.

Watson B. Duncan Middle School has timed its 25th anniversary celebration to coincide with Duncan’s birthday Feb. 16. The party starts at 6 p.m. Feb. 16 at the school’s courtyard, 5150 117th Court North. It is open to all, according to a news release from the Palm Beach County School District.

READ ALSO: Palm Beach Gardens students: Do you know who William T. Dwyer was?  

The “Live the Legend, A Star Glow of Tomorrow” event will feature guest speakers, a performance by Duncan students and a Shakespearean tribute to Duncan by his drama students.

Students will also celebrate with cake and activities during lunch next Thursday.

Duncan, a popular Palm Beach State College professor, taught for more than 30 years until the day he died in 1991. He called Shakespeare “the Big S” and often celebrated his birthday with cake and a costume.

Actor and Jupiter resident Burt Reynolds credited Duncan with turning his attention from athletics to acting. He once described Duncan as a “six-foot-four curmudgeon elf” with an engaging laugh.

Watson B. Duncan Middle School and Lake Worth Middle School both opened Aug. 26, 1991.

Two benefits coming up to help Dwyer grad fighting cancer

Kelly Sudell, of Jupiter, attended her brother's wedding in Malibu, Calif., in Oct. 2014. She was first diagnosed with leukemia two weeks later. Photo courtesy of Kelly Sudell
Kelly Sudell, of Jupiter, attended her brother’s wedding in Malibu, Calif., in Oct. 2014. She was first diagnosed with leukemia two weeks later. Photo courtesy of Kelly Sudell

Kelly Sudell could use your help.

The Jupiter native and 2006 Dwyer High School grad is fighting an aggressive form of leukemia for the second time in as many years. When her high school classmates return to Palm Beach County for their 10-year class reunion this weekend, they’ll raise money to help her with her expenses.

But you can help, too. The Obeo Society is hosting a happy hour from 6 to 9 tonight, Sept. 21 at Twisted Trunk Brewing, 2000 PGA Blvd., in Palm Beach Gardens. A minimum $20 donation gets you a beer and pizza.

If you can’t clear your schedule tonight, there’s a Spikin’ It for Kelly 2016 Beach Volleyball Tournament 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 15 at Ocean Cay Park, 2188 Marcinski Road, Jupiter. Email Lauren@asecondgo.com to register a team.

Kelly Sudell, of Jupiter, is fighting leukemia for the second time. She's getting treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston will undergo a bone marrow transplant. Here she is during treatment in August 2016. Photo courtesy of Kelly Sudell
Kelly Sudell, of Jupiter, is fighting leukemia for the second time. She’s getting treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston will undergo a bone marrow transplant. Here she is during treatment in August 2016. Photo courtesy of Kelly Sudell

There’s also a gofundme to which you can contribute at any time: https://www.gofundme.com/kickingitforkelly.

Meet the new Dwyer High School principal Monday

Joe Depasquale is the new principal of Dwyer High School. Courtesy photo
Joe Depasquale is the new principal of Dwyer High School. Courtesy photo

When Glenda Sheffield got a promotion to Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Robert Avossa’s leadership team for the 2016-17 school year, Dwyer High School lost its principal.

The Palm Beach Gardens high school serving about 2,200 students from the city, Riviera Beach and Jupiter wasn’t without a leader for long. School officials approved Joe Depasquale to take over at Dwyer a few days after Sheffield was named as the South Instructional Superintendent for secondary schools.

To help the community get to know Depasquale better, the We Are Dwyer Foundation and Palm Beach North Chamber are hosting a “Meet the New Principal” reception 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 22 at the school, 13601 N. Military Trail. Depasquale will lay out his vision for Dwyer about 6:15 p.m.

If you plan to attend, RSVP to https.wearedwyerfoundation.org/event/meet-principal-event. 

Depasquale graduated from Youngstown State University with a degree in secondary education in 1984 and started teaching and coaching at St. Cloud High School in Orlando a few years later, according to his bio on the invitation to the reception.

Locally, he’s taught at Jupiter High School and served as principal of North Palm Beach Elementary and Jeaga Middle Schools. He worked as an area director for seven years before coming to Dwyer. He has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

His son J.D. and daughter Cassi attend Florida State and the University of Florida, respectively.

Free rides and games at this school’s 25th anniversary bash

Making plans for the Through the Years Gala, marking William T. Dwyer High s 25th anniversary, are (seated from left) gala co-chairs Michael Cowen and Robyn Frohling; (standing) Karen Holmes, We are Dwyer Foundation vice president; Glenda Shefffield, principal; the school mascot;  Julie Littky-Rubin, We are Dwyer Foundation president; and Bari  Levitt, silent auction co-chair.
Making plans for the Through the Years Gala, marking William T. Dwyer High’s 25th anniversary, are (seated from left) gala co-chairs Michael Cowen and Robyn Frohling; (standing) Karen Holmes, We are Dwyer Foundation vice president; Glenda Shefffield, principal; the school mascot; Julie Littky-Rubin, We are Dwyer Foundation president; and Bari Levitt, silent auction co-chair.

One Palm Beach Gardens high school is going all out to celebrate its 25th year.

William T. Dwyer High School, 13601 N Military Trail, will host a free Friends and Family Jubilee 4 to 7 p.m. April 20. There will be small rides, bounce houses and games for young children and teenagers. When that works up an appetite, there will be food trucks, cotton candy and carnival food to fill up on.

Basketball Coach Fred Ross will run a game pitting alumni against faculty at 7:30 p.m. The game is also free, but all money earned at the concession stand will be donated by Dwyer’s Student Government Association to the American Cancer Society.

Dwyer High School teacher battling cancer gets the all-clear

 

Jennifer Brown, an English teacher at Dwyer High School, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Aug. 19. She was worried about how her 10th grade students will pass the FSA with a teacher who misses a lot of class because of her health. Brown's mom, Jane Brown, who taught in the district for 27 years, stepped up to be her sub. She comes in as a volunteer and helps on Brown's bad days. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Jennifer Brown, an English teacher at Dwyer High School, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Aug. 19. She learned this week that there are no more signs of cancer in her body. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Jen Brown, the Dwyer High School English teacher fighting ovarian cancer, got some very welcome news this week.

There are no more signs of cancer, she learned after a new type of blood test and another ultrasound.

“Words just don’t explain the relief and the happiness. I feel like I’ve been carrying a pile of bricks with all of the stress and the worry. That was totally lifted,” Brown said. “For an English teacher to not have any words, that means a lot.”

Jen Brown and her mom, Jane, a retired 10th grade English teacher and guidance counselor, have teamed up in the classroom. On the days when her daughter is away getting treatments, “Mama Brown” teaches the lessons Jen Brown prepared. She volunteers in the classroom for continuity on the other days.

Jen Brown’s dad, J.P., is with her in Houston. She received treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center there.

“We both cried,” she said.

Warning signs of ovarian cancer:

  • Bloating
  • Eating less but feeling full
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tiredness and trouble with the bladder

H.O.W., Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper, in Jupiter helps women with ovarian cancer with their financial needs. To make a donation, call 561-406-2109 or go to https://www.ovariancancerpbc.org/donate.