The Wheatly School Alumni Association Newsletter #135

Arthur Engoron
January 23, 2024

Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,

Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 135.

According to Substack, in the first 24 hours after publication, Newsletter # 134 was viewed 3,208 times, was “liked” 30 times, and received nine comments. In all, 4,728 email addresses received Newsletter # 133.

All underlined text is a link-to-a-link (or, occasionally, an email address). Clicking anywhere on underlined text, and then clicking on the link that pops up, will get you to your on-line destination (or address an email).

The Usual Words of Wisdom

Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (Class of 1963), you can regale yourself with the first 134 Newsletters (and much other Wheatley data and arcana) at

Wheatley School Alumni Association Website

Also, thanks to Keith is our search engine, prominently displayed on our home page: type in a word or phrase and, wow!, you’ll find every place it exists in all previous Newsletters and other on-site material. I use it frequently; it usually works!

I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof.  I cannot and do not vouch for the accuracy of what people tell me. TWSAA does not have a fact-checking department.

We welcome any and all text and photos relevant to The Wheatley School, 11 Bacon Road, Old Westbury, NY 11568, and the people who administered, taught, worked, and/or studied there. Art Engoron, Class of 1967

Faculty Appreciation

Writes Scott Frishman (1967) - I much enjoyed  what David Heckendorn (faculty)  wrote.  ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’ is one of my and my brother Rick’s (1972) favorite movies of all time. It always reminds me of teachers like Dr. Wills, Mr Pearson, and Mr. Signorelli. Especially Dr. Wills, even though he was more of a choir teacher and theatre and musicals professor. I think that that movie was far and away Richard Dreyfuss’s best performance in a motion picture. To learn that Mr. Heckendorn was actually involved in the movie is mind-boggling, to say the least.

Writes John Poulos (1971) - “Hi Art, Very sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Runestad; I always enjoyed his classes, he was such an animated ‘character,’ he made everything interesting. My condolences to the Runestad family, as well as to the Wathey and Coulthurst Families.”

Writes Rick Frishman (1972) - “I have been telling friends about Les Runestad for over 50 years. I had him for Biology in 11th grade, and I got to know him pretty well. Several of our teachers were extras in our shows, ‘Guys and Dolls’ and ‘Fiorello,’ and he was always a great sport. At any rate…..In 11th grade I said to him, ‘I am doing very well in all of my other classes - but  I can’t seem to get better that a C in biology. Why?’ He said…..’Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Frishman, that you may just be stupid?’ Best answer a teacher ever said to me! (Obviously he was just kidding)”

Writes Todd Glickman (1973) - “I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Les Runestad.  In 8th grade Les first inspired me to enjoy Earth Science in general and meteorology specifically.  And the rest is history.  He had the magic combination that makes a truly superb teacher:  personable, funny, and truly caring about his students’ learning.  May his memory be for a blessing – I think of him often even after more than 50 years.”

Writes Peter Sultan (1989) - “Runstead was the best.  One time before a cross-country race a few of the team members (I was one of them) snuck off to McDonald’s and had a few burgers. When Les found out he yelled at us for what seemed like a few hours. I don’t think I had ever heard so many expletives strung together. It was very memorable.  We all kind of laughed afterwards, and Wheatley did well in the race.  What great memories :)”

Writes David Sakhai (1991) - “So sorry to hear of Les Runestad’s passing—a man who clearly knew how to live life!  I was privileged to have him as a teacher and as a coach. Whether in science class, where he gave us “quizzes and testes” (as he would say), or going for runs during practice at the old Air National Guard base or up the hill at Stone Arches, he always had us in stitches—both from running and laughing so hard—while infamously sipping on his Irish coffee. LR was truly remarkable and will be remembered well by us all!!

Writes Jacob Kuriakose (1995) - “The passing of Leslie Runestad really saddens me, but the memories of him always bring me a smile.  There are too many stories to tell, and some may be best told face-to-face for a wide variety of reasons.  He was my cross-country coach for three years.  To be diplomatic, running is not the funnest sport in the world.  However, LR made running fun.  

Also, when I was trying to get into the Navy, I was a bit too honest about my medical history and admitted that I had asthma as a kid.  This condition was resolved, and I did not need any meds for quite some time prior to joining.  However, any prior medical history is a big problem, as, for a wide variety of reasons, the Navy does not want to admit anyone with any prior medical issues.  So I had to prove that this condition was resolved. One thing led to another, and somehow my running cross-country would have been helpful to prove that my asthma was no longer relevant.  Well, next thing I know, I ask LR if he could help me, and LR sends me documentation of my times running cross-country to help my application.  It was quite touching that he kept those records and sent them to me to help me get into the Navy.  RIP LR.”

Les Runestad



1963 - Mary Lee Holley Cerillo

Writes Mary Lee - I decided to take Art up on his challenge to write something before I croak and people are reading my obituary.  First off, I am truly thankful to Wheatley for my meeting Andy Cerillo, my husband of almost 57 years, when I was a freshman.  I am sending a recent photograph of us standing in a sunflower field at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Andy attended Wheatley from the 7th grade to his junior year and then went to Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. 

We have been fortunate in our marriage and have lived in numerous states.  After Andy served his tour in Vietnam in 1968 we settled in the Philadelphia area for 10 years, outside Boston for 18 years, Austin, Texas for 2 1/2 years, Northern Virginia for 14 years, and North Carolina for 11 years.  We are loving our home in the mountains, as it is so beautiful and peaceful.  I do nature photography as a hobby, so there is an abundance of material to photograph.  We love taking day trips all over the state, particularly to fields of wildflowers during the spring and summer.  We take walks around lakes here in the mountains and enjoy nature in all its glory.   It sure beats watching the news!!!!  We have been able to travel throughout the world during our marriage, so we are indeed lucky!!

I was a secretary for Eastern Airlines Public Relations back in the day, went back to college late in life, and got my MSW from Boston College School of Social Work.  I worked in private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in Trauma and Substance Abuse for several years.  Upon retirement I became very active politically, especially in Virginia.

We have one son who lives nine miles from us.  He currently teaches Math at the middle school in our very rural county in North Carolina.  Scott had worked in India for Goldman Sachs for three and a half years.  He has always wanted to teach, so he bit the bullet and is enjoying his second career.  He also has a tie to Art Engoron, as Art kindly officiated at the marriage of Scott and his husband eleven years ago in Central Park in New York City.  It was a wonderful ceremony, and we so appreciated Art.  (And we still do, I might add.)

I am surprised that no one has mentioned being inspired by either Peggy Meisel or Bernard Seiderman.  Both of these teachers left a lasting impression on me.  How lucky were we that we were able to take a Philosophy course and a History of Russia course in high school!!!  I remember Bernard Seiderman, and how I left him my cheerleader uniform and megaphone in the senior will.   He always used to tease me that I would get married and have a bunch of kids.   I remember us having the opportunity to visit a Russian monastery in upstate New York on a school bus that broke down on our way back home.  I am still in touch with some of the people who were in my class.   Peggy Meisel was amazing and made me THINK.  I still recall the wonderful books we were assigned to read such as The Catcher In the Rye, The Bridge Over San Luis Rey, The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, etc.  Several of these books are now banned.  Her assignments were thought-provoking. Thanks be to God my mother had been an English major and was helpful in helping me to think things through.  

I continue to be in touch with members of the Class of 1963, who will always be special, as will The Wheatley School!!!”


1966 - Karen Wattel Arenson - Celebrating her 75th

Writes Karen - “I celebrated my 75th birthday in January:

(1) - with my daughter, Morgan, at the Whitney Museum, where she is Director of Foundation, Government, & Planned Giving; 

(2) - ready to blow out the candle on my birthday donuts at Cafe Cluny in the Village, where I had lunch with her; and 

(3) - with my husband, Greg, at dinner at Joomak Banjum. 

Writes Art Engoron (1967) - Karen and I had a wonderful lunch at Pepolino, in Tribeca, on January 18, 2024


1967 - Ginny Bindman Westerfeld and Lorraine Eisner Fitelson at lunch in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Great friends since seventh grade!!!”

L-R - Lorraine and Ginny

1967 - L-R Richard Friedman and Art Engoron - Close Friends Since Kindergarten


1970 - Mitch Shapiro - “Art…..First, Happy  2024…here’s to having memories of the past shared with others and new memories being made as the new year begins.

I’d like to say, simply, that I appreciate the sharing by Wheatleyites of their journeys through life, from living and growing up in the district,  to staying connected over the years, to the trials & tribulations, successes, and, of course, the paths taken in life.  These stories have been uplifting on so many levels.  It’s also about learning what our alumni compatriots  have done with their lives….I personally find it amazing.  And, oh gosh, not that it would have made much difference, but I was blown away by the story from David Heckendorn - Music Teacher at The Wheatley School from 1985 – 2006.  Mr. Holland’s Opus is one of my two top favorite movies of all time…..So congrats, David, on your overall accomplishments; I also listen to jazz.”


1973 - Gerry Engoron - Exercise Tip

Writes Gerry - “Hi Art: While not alumni news, I felt that this was too good not to share.  If you can walk and have access to a treadmill with an incline feature, you can get a great aerobic workout!  It's called the 12-3-30 workout and it's already becoming popular. 

Keeping in mind that it's completely customizable, it works like this: Using the 12 percent incline setting, walk on the treadmill at three miles-per-hour for 30 minutes (thus, 12-3-30).  When I first tried it, I was surprised by the steepness of the 12 percent setting, so I cut it back to six.  Since then, I have slowly built up to 8, 9 and 10 (10 minutes each).  I can also walk a little faster, so I use 3.3 mph. 

When I'm finished, I'm always amazed at what a good workout I had with little-to-no wear and tear on my knees, joints, etc.  Perfect for many of us aging baby-boomers.  Of course the magic is in the incline setting.  Give it a try and you may be amazed, too!”


1975 - Deidra Coulthurst - Writes Victoria Unger Hochman (1970) - “Deepest condolences to Linda Couthurst-Jay (1972) on the loss of her amazing sister, Deidra Coulthurst. RIP.”


1975 - Mark Lubin - Music Man

Writes Mark - “I'm the guy with the guitar.  Unfortunately for the others, none of them had the good fortune to attend Wheatley.”

Mark co-hosts a monthly open jazz jam session at the NYC venue Sentry Flatiron. His house band starts with a set, and then they open it up for people to come up and play.  Wheatley alumni and others are welcome to play or listen.  No cover or minimum. The next sessions will be on January 24 (tomorrow!!!) and February 28 at 6:30pm.  Sentry Flatiron is located at 37 W. 24th St., 18th floor.   More information is available on Mark's website ( and at


1976 - Lisa Kozupsky Pritchard - Doing Good

Writes classmate Jennie Karp Colbert - “This recent photograph shows Lisa Kozupsky-Pritchard volunteering her nursing skills to repair cleft palates in Guatemala for Operation Smile. Lisa has been volunteering her skills with this NGO (non-government organization) for years.

1991 - Daniel Marc Bassen - Deceased - November 29, 1972 - January 9, 2024

Daniel Marc Bassen, born November 29, 1972, in New York passed away on January 9, 2024, at the age of 51, in Dunwoody, GA. He is survived by his twin sons, Ethan and Wyatt, former spouse Robin, and parents Ira and Sandy Bassen. He is lovingly remembered by his family and friends. Dan graduated from Emory University with a business degree. He was fun, witty and thoughtful and a dedicated sales professional, a devoted father, and a dear, dear friend who leaves behind a legacy of warmth and kindness. Rest in peace, Danny–may your memory be a blessing.

Fan Mail

1964 (Ellen Solow Holzman) - “Art—One aspect of the Newsletter that I appreciate is seeing posts from the friends of my younger brothers, not just from my classmates. I bet there are others who also enjoy seeing posts about their siblings’ classmates.”

1965 (Jeffrey Orling) - “Art, Happy New Year! Thanks again for the lifeline to our shared distant past. I look forward to your emails.  I doubt that you have any idea how valuable these Newsletters are. We probably didn't realize what a fabulous school Wheatley was when we were there. Keep ‘em coming!”

1967 (Scott Frishman) - “Hey Art, Great newsletter, as usual.”

1970 (Mitch Shapiro) - “Art..…you & Keith  deserve all the accolades for keeping us all entwined with the history that many of us share; you bring it all back to us..…Thank You!”

1972 (Rick Frishman) - “Art - Great newsletter, as usual.”

1975 (Mark Lubin) - “Art, I look forward to receiving the Newsletters, and I enjoy reading them.  Thanks for all your efforts to keep the Wheatley alumni community connected!”

Writes Rick Frishman (1972) - “Art - Great newsletter as usual.


That’s it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 135.  Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.


  Arthur Fredericks Engoron, Class of 1967