Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,
Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 92.
According to Substack, in the first 24 hours after publication Newsletter # 91 was viewed 3,485 times and was “liked” six times.
All underlined text is a link-to-a-link (or, rarely, an email address). Clicking anywhere on underlined text, and then on the link that pops up, will get you to your on-line destination.
The Usual Words of Wisdom
Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (Class of 1963), you can regale yourself with the first 91 Newsletters (and other Wheatley data and arcana) at
Also, thanks to Keith is our search engine, prominently displayed on our home page: type in a word or phrase and, mirabile dictu, you’ll find every place it exists in all previous Newsletters and other on-site material.
I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof. I do not vouch for the accuracy of what people tell me.
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 and/or studied there. Art Engoron, Class of 1967
Wheatley Upgrades Athletic Facilities.
Wheatley has refurbished the gym and its athletic fields…….and if I’m not mistaken, added two tennis courts (there are now four). Once you click on the link, remember to scroll through the photos by clicking on the “left” and “right” arrows.
Editor’s Note - Reprinted from # 91 For Context
Writes Art Engoron (1967) - “Like a bad penny, the issue of including strong opinions in this Newsletter keeps returning. Last time around, sentiment seemed approximately evenly divided, and I think I just let the debate burn itself out. This time I’m taking a stand: I will continue to include strong opinions in the Newsletters. First, I am a free speech absolutist, and I oppose censoring, and I just won’t do it. Second, people’s opinions seem as indicative of their character as what they (or, by now, their children) do for a living, or where they live, or what they remember from 11th grade science class. Third, if you don’t want to read occasional strong opinions, then just ignore or skip over them. I don’t include my own strong opinions, and I print whatever I receive, even if I strongly disagree. Occasionally I turn down the heat a little, particularly if I sense an ad hominem attack against another Wildcat. The “anti” crowd often points out that there are other outlets for venting. I agree, but that’s irrelevant. I don’t print strong opinions because otherwise there would be no outlet for them; I print strong opinions because that is what Wheatley graduates want to say to other Wheatley graduates; and because it tells us something about them; and because we are all adults. So no, I will not stop publishing strong opinions; and if that makes you want to unsubscribe, just tell me, and I will (sadly and reluctantly) remove you from my Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter Distribution List.
Unattributed Wildcat - “Some people are nuts. They like to stick their head in the sand.”
Writes Deborah Crane (1963) (“Krane” at Wheatley) - “Dear Art, Your Newsletter is wonderful! Please don't change a thing. We were taught critical thinking at Wheatley, way before it was fashionable. Unfortunately, some were not paying much attention . Stephen Shikes (1963) and I were in many classes together in High School and were always on the opposite sides of political discussions. My Dad worked at Gimbel’s Department Store in the 1930s and helped to organize the union. Stephen's Dad owned a business and at that time did not see any benefits in unions. Stephen went on to have a career defending the underrepresented and being a political activist. I'm sure that the encouragement that we had from our teachers to think critically was part of what enabled Stephen's personal growth. Thank you, Art, for keeping the discussions going. Democracy dies with silence. With love, Debby”
Writes James Paley (1964) - “Hi Art, You probably figured I would weigh in on this one, given the comments made by Jay Cummings in the previous Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter. I will resist commenting on the outlandish assertions of Randi Weingarten being a “child killer” and Anthony Fauci being a “mad scientist.” I would only suggest that Jay Cummings do something worthwhile with his time, like heading up George Santos’s reelection campaign.”
Writes Peter Altschuler (1965) - “Journalism uses a “3-Point Rule”: if a claim cannot be independently corroborated by three separate sources, either it isn’t used or it’s clearly labeled as unverified. This is what led to Dan Rather’s downfall: he ran a report about George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service without getting sufficient confirmation of the story’s accuracy. It’s somewhere between discovery and an evidentiary hearing. And it’s a step that Fox News completely ignores.
My sense of what’s common is, obviously, different from yours. I think that most editors would reject Cummings' rant because it’s (a) inaccurate, (b) inflammatory, and (c) too likely to generate the kind of feedback you've received from alumni. So, yes, he sent his remarks to you because he felt sure that he’d see his words in print. Sort of like a killer who looks forward to the press coverage his murders generate.
Editorial judgment usually refers to knowing what to print and what not to. You seem to have abrogated that responsibility, and I think that’s both unfortunate and not in the interest of people, like Peter Berlin, who believe "that what we all want to hear about is how our former classmates and teachers are doing, and not their angry diatribes.”
The New York Times has always been guided by “All the news that’s fit to print,” not “All the news that fits.” As Saint-Exupéry put it, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Writes Laurie Woods (1965) - “Thank you for your stand on continuing to print all Wheatley grads’ political opinions, even if you disagree with them.”
Writes Claude Levy (1966) - “Hi Art, I strongly support your policy of sharing what alumni send, as a good way for others to know what they think, be it conservative or progressive, based on fantasy/religion or facts/science. When I receive a call asking me if I am ‘pro-life,’ my short answer is, “Definitely: I am pro life, which is why I am in favor of gun control. Cheers, Claude”
Writes Tim Boland (1967) - “Art, I read your comments on free speech, etc., and in the majority of cases and most situations, I would wholeheartedly concur with you. I am also a free speech advocate. The question is, as opposed to public organizations and entities which may have an obligation to adhere strictly to legal standards, do not private entities, associations comprised solely from participants voluntarily electing to engage and connect with each other have the right to set their own standards and guidelines for appropriate rules of engagement and discourse?
Judging from the responses and the overall vitriol that is starting to accumulate (even if merited) from this one topic of discussion, as fascinating as the subject may be, I do not believe a private newsletter with updates of high school afterlife is necessarily obligated to be a free speech, 1st Amendment protection forum -- especially drawing no public funds, existing solely on the goodwill and large donation of time of the facilitators.
I was rather shocked at what the original writer, Jay Cummings (1960), wrote (but that was his right), but I believe the condemning and disapproving responses started to become just as negative with their mocking, condescending tone. How much better were they in their tone of moral superiority? I daresay I was equally put off by both. Red, blue, conservative, liberal, it all reeked of the same lack of civility, decency and dignity that we are losing more and more of every day. The Wheatley newsletters should not feel obligated to air political views from either side. That's not the basis for the newsletter. It's a private, voluntary space to share information, a type of information, Wheatley news, not an opinion forum.
I cannot state it strongly enough that one of the beauties and pleasures of reading the Wheatley newsletters is for the convivial tone and nature, for the camaraderie and connectedness of our Wheatley community that floods the pages spanning decades of graduates, disconnected by years, but connected by a shared sense of history and identification. Reading the stories and bios of graduates, sadly learning of the passing of classmates and former teachers and administrators, new news regarding our alma mater, etc., keeps us all connected to our roots. In a world where there is greater and greater disconnection, the Wheatley Alumni Newsletter continues to keep one of our most original connections alive and well.
I do not propose to infringe on the free speech of anyone, but in this increasingly politicized and polarized world we have to live in, I propose to keep the Wheatley Newsletters a political-free zone of information, providing us all with one small part of our lives that can be above all the political noise and chatter, misinformation, divisive and alienating opinions that engender more division and alienation.
If graduates want to engage in political discussions and debate, go to or create another forum for that. Go to Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc, and debate all you want.
Can we just keep the Wheatley Alumni newsletter a POLITICAL FREE zone of personal information and alumni news sharing? In these testy times, we all need a special space of peace. I know I do. Let the Wheatley newsletter afford us all that.”
Writes Carol Chock (1968) - Hi Art, I appreciated every single sentence of your Editor’s Note regarding censorship. Thanks for letting us learn about the life paths of our classmates in all our unbridled and varied directions. I agree that political perspectives are among the many factors I’m curious to know about my friends from long ago. Thanks also for the one line you are willing to draw, to keep the controversies from becoming or leading to personal attacks.”
Writes Mitch Shapiro (1970) - “Art, I commend you for any stance you take in regard to what does or does not go into the newsletter. Interestingly enough, you are on point about the fact we know where the mindsets are on many of our fellow Wildcats. Left or right, east or west, the divide is worse than I can ever recall, and sadly enough, America seems to be heading into a crisis bigger than ourselves.”
Writes Donna Bloom Cave (1974) - “Hi Art, I could not agree with you more regarding your Editor’s note. We are fortunate to live in a country in which we can share opposing opinions without fear of punishment. If you don’t want to see it, don’t read it. That’s the beauty of having a choice. Best, Donna ‘74”
Writes Patricia Koenig Franzino (1975) - “The Newsletter is becoming too political and too divisive. I am not looking to censor anyone’s opinions, but there are so many other forums for people to express opinions on modern day issues. I want to read about fellow classmates, teachers and families, not someone’s opinion on gun control. It used to be a heartwarming platform to remember the good old days and simpler times, and it is just getting to be, as my sister put it, not fun anymore to read.
The bottom line for me is that the newsletter was always such a nice respite from the daily diatribe that is seemingly everywhere, and slowly the newsletter is starting to feel like it is getting pulled into politics and policies and all the unpleasantness that inevitably follows. I belong to a Wheatley Class of ’75 Facebook page, and we keep it light - celebrating life’s achievements - retirement, grandkids, stories from Willets Road, North Side, and Wheatley, so I’ll stick to that for my Wheatley fix. Maybe this makes me sound a little Mayberry RFD, but that’s OK. It is not that I don’t stay on top of things or have my opinions, because I most certainly do; it is just that one needs to find offerings of the good things too, or life just gets too dour. The turn the newsletter is taking saddens me, but I guess that’s the way of the world these days! Thank you for understanding. And so, regretfully and respectfully, I request to be taken off the distribution list. I am very appreciative and thank you so much for all that you have done for the Wheatley alumni community.
Six-Year-Old School Shooting
Writes Jay Cummings (1960) - “Sounds like 90% of Wheatley graduates agree with “staunch progressive” thinking, which has added nothing to the betterment of America. They are all failed parents protecting Randi Weingarten with her Critical Race Theory and woke controlling indoctrinating schooling forcing sane parents to spend $60,000 a year on private schools because her teacher’s Union thinking is demented; stupidly closing schools for two years caused the loss of child development and lasting severe depression. These parents protect Fauci, who unnecessarily masked children for two years; wait for the hearings to expose this “I am science” madman. Why don’t you all look at those who commit crime and a 6-year-old that has a gun, IT”S THE FAILED LIBERAL PARENTS who never should have had children, the ones who think I’m crazy. Politically, let’s remember, who created ISIS: Obama, leaving a vacuum in Iraq; and who defeated ISIS: Trump. The MS-13 Gang was thriving on Long Island; who eradicated MS-13, Trump. But it is now coming back strong under Biden. Who kept the Taliban at bay: Trump, who killed 13 of our military, with his stupid withdrawal: Biden. Who left $85 billion of our equipment which Ukraine should have? Who opened our border, Biden, causing the death of thousands of children from fentanyl and child trafficking; who secured our sovereign border, Trump, protecting thousands of children dying from fentanyl and opioids. Who had a 1.4% inflation, Trump; who has a 7% inflation: Biden. Who’s involved in a foreign war draining America’s treasure of $110 billion so far: Biden; who was not, Trump, because world Dictator’s feared and respected him and Putin never would have invaded Ukraine. I’ve spent six years fighting the radical progressive socialists who are on a mission to bring down America. Liberals love Biden because he spent $5 trillion so far on free stuff that the grandchildren are going to have to pay for. Liberals should abort as many children as they can. You should publish this or send to the ones who disagree with me, and you’re welcome to cancel me from the newsletter. I always tried to respect you but it’s getting impossible to do. The left is looney and dangerous and child abusers, and 90% of Wheatley disagrees with me. Sick!”
Writes Carl Stewart (1960) (from Faro Portugal, where his family is gathering for his “upcoming big birthday”) - “I was pleased to see the recent rejection of the nonsense spewed by my former classmate, Jay Cummings, but I was sorry to see that Cummings wasn’t called out on the blatantly incorrect conclusions drawn by him on the homicide rates in this country’s three largest cities [And I can not ignore the implications of Cummings’s not very subtle racism in naming the three Black mayors of those cities]. Of course, New York City has more homicides than does Omaha. The important statistic is the per capita murder rate, and New York does not even make the list of top 50 cities in per capita homicide rates. Neither does Los Angeles. And although Chicago is 10th on the list, with few exceptions the cities with the highest murder rates come from the States with the most lax gun laws. While both the extreme adherents of right and left wing are guilty of spewing nonsense, there is a very considerable imbalance between the two groups with the scary lunatic fringe, represented by uninformed (and dangerous) people like Cummings, who pose a real threat to democracy.”
Writes Rhoda Kalkin Schneider (1961) - “I totally agree with Jay Cummings’s insight! When the Pandemic hit, New York City caved in. Black Lives Matter took center stage. Looting, killings (which are still going on in the subways), sucker punching, etc. Democratic-run cities, sanctuary cities, are having more violence than ever. Think about it!”
Writes Paul Ingrassia (1969) - “I wish some of these pro-gun enthusiast would read the entire second amendment: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This was at a time of no police and minimal military. Also, guns were ‘one shot then reload’; the idea that this means owning assault weapons capable of firing up to 100 shots for personal protection is ludicrous.”
Writes David Packer (1970) - “Hi Art, You are grappling with a difficult concept, especially in practice. However, I would like to offer a slightly opposing view, which may be more about principle than practice. Here goes:
We hear a lot these days about “free speech absolutism,” particularly in association with Elon Musk and Twitter. Art cited this term in the last newsletter. I would like to point out that absolutism doesn’t really exist. Everything involves some sort of trade-off, and every system must have boundaries to function. Establishing those boundaries is not so difficult in engineered systems, but social systems are another matter because of the very large number of inputs and the often counterintuitive nature of the resulting system response (see the work of the late, great Jay Forrester). Yet those boundaries have always existed in the public media, until the past 20 years or so. Musk is finding that a self-proclaimed, free-speech absolutist will have to deal with large amounts of hate speech and misinformation. Keep in mind that society can survive a certain level of stupidity and “opinions” from the ignorant only if there are enough other people who actually know and can create foundations and platforms that work in the real world. Unfortunately, the foundation is now sagging under the weight of misinformation and hatred because of the loss of boundary conditions in spite of valiant efforts by, for example, the former Twitter owners. Maybe we don’t want to return to a time when media moguls controlled public information. But finding new boundaries will not occur with absolutism. Musk is finding this out the hard way with Twitter and is likely to bail to a new manager to deal with this complex problem. Together with the critical question of future energy sources, these decisions about boundaries in the public sphere, which under capitalism are still in the hands of wealthy moguls, will determine the health and survival of our democracy. Fortunately for Art and the rest of us, Wheatley grads don’t generally pose the same range of challenges. If everyone had our education, the problem would likely self-correct. Unfortunately, that won’t happen in the general population. In a way, we are dealing with the old seller beware vs. buyer beware ethical conundrum. Where does the ethical responsibility lie? Probably with both sides, but when both sides fail in their responsibility (now my opinion – such as Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity and their listeners), only chaos can be the result. Best, David”
Writes Charlie Nash (1973) - Good morning Art, I, for one, think it is good for our Wheatley School Newsletter to share differing views, but we all need to play nice and not make personal attacks. I am not saying that has occurred, just sayin,’
Just for information purposes, I consider myself a moderate. The individuals on both sides of the spectrum tend to cause some division and alienation, though that is certainly their prerogative.
With respect to firearms, as you may know, besides being a licensed attorney, I have also been a sworn law enforcement officer for over 40 years, including serving as a cross-designated federal law enforcement officer for specific tasks. Yes, I have worked road patrol, traffic enforcement, dignitary protection, the marine unit (lots of water here in Florida), the DUI task force and the narcotics unit. I also own a significant number of firearms. With that being said, it is or should be incumbent on all gun owners to be safe with the possession, use, and storage of firearms and ammunition. That is a legal and moral responsibility, and the Second Amendment, as interpreted by one of the most conservative Justices of the United States Supreme Court, is not absolute (nor is the First Amendment – try taking the position that it is okay to yell fire in a crowded movie theater in which there is no fire).
Another not funny matter is when someone criticizes someone else for being what the criticizer terms a liberal. When I witness that type of exchange, I enjoy reminding all involved that Jesus was one of the biggest liberals ever. That gets me some very strange reactions. Again, just sayin.’
I hope that we all are able to respect the opinions of our fellow classmates, even when those opinions do not resemble our own. Our country needs to heal! Peace, Charlie Nash, Class of ’73 (though graduated in ’72).”
Posted by Robert Gadamowitz - 25 Years a Math Teacher at Wheatley:
Writes Nina Galerstein (1970) - “Recently I found a handwritten letter from Merle Levine, mailed to my house around the time of graduation, in which she wrote [abbreviate for publication] the following:
‘Dear Nina, I came to graduation to say goodbye and to tell you that along with the Wallace Stevens poem, you have to listen to Chopin's Barcarole in F# Minor and the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. I was feeling enormously sad to see so many of you go. Fondly, Merle Levine’
I'm wondering if anyone else received s letter like this...?”
1964 - Susan Obrant - SUSAN’S MEN
Art Reception: "SUSAN's MEN," by Susan Obrant, Sunday, February 12, 2023 - 2:00pm-4:00 pm, Halperin Building - 2 Bruce Avenue, Harrison, NY, Community Room. The exhibition is on display from February 5 to March 3, 2023. The gallery is open to the public during regular library hours.
1965 - Cory Friedman - A Response - “A classmate wrote that ‘The Newsletter brings back great memories of an innocent time, long before we became “woke.”’ Like when Wheatley was lily white or pretty close to it? The innocent time when de facto segregation was the rule? I left Wheatley after my sophomore year for a New England prep school that was not as lily white as Wheatley. I missed out on that innocent time. “Woke” is now an epithet. It's the current version of "n***** lover,” as demonstrated by Ron DeSantis banning the Advanced Placement (“AP”) African American Studies class on grounds of it being woke. Apparently MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail is also too woke. While it would be presumptuous for me to claim to be woke, I would be honored to be called a n***** lover."
1965 - Josh Wilner - Two Bengeyfield Boys
After lunch at Pepolino, January 20, 2023, L-R, Art Engoron and Josh Wilner
1970 - Mitch Shapiro - “As for the Roslyn Country Club…..unfortunately, I don’t have photographs of growing up in the Country Club area on Parkway Drive, a short walk or bike ride away; but I have some good memories. I do recall taking some tennis lessons from Steve Shukow’s (1970) dad, who was a pro there. Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I understand why he hit me with so many balls…..I never saw them coming……*lol.* I played some handball, water polo; and if anyone else recalls the pickup games of Frisbee football……did you ever notice the blood on the trees from my running into them? (haha)”
1975 - Patricia Koenig Franzino - Welcomed Wheatley
Writes Pat - “If I had to name one of the biggest influences in my life, it would most definitely be The Wheatley School. I arrived there coming off of eight years of Catholic school, which I absolutely hated. At Wheatley I found myself in an educational environment where you were free to say and do, and teachers actually asked your opinion and LISTENED when you spoke, and nobody was walking around with a ruler waiting to crack your knuckles! I am very thankful to have had the privilege to attend Wheatley. I hated graduation day because I didn’t want to leave!”
1981 - John Hughes - Looking Back on it All
Writes John - “Hi Art, I previously mentioned that I wanted to submit my experiences from my time at WHS (77-81).
I was born in the Bronx and grew up in Cambria Heights, Queens. It was a nice, working-class neighborhood for many years, but we started to experience various crimes in the area. When someone broke into our garage and stole our bikes, my mother put her foot down and said, "We have to move!" In 1976 my parents found a nice house on Shortridge Drive in Mineola, very close to the Wheatley Hills Golf Club. Our new home was only about a dozen miles from our Queens home, but it was such a culture shock to be living near a golf course in such a picturesque neighborhood. My former neighborhood had a candy store, supermarket, and various businesses on Linden Blvd, near the Cross Island Parkway, and the Belmont race track. I don't think I had ever seen a golf course up to that point. The town of East Williston amazed me as well, with its vintage train station and huge Victorian homes. It was reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting, especially when it snowed.
I was very anxious about attending high school, but my sisters were in the same boat as me, and we would see each other in the hallways to offer each other support. I felt badly for my brother, as he attended I.U. Willets by himself and had his challenges. Kids were not nice to him, and I had serious survivor guilt that I was with my sisters in high school and he was alone. Many families had multiple siblings attending Wheatley. Often, my friends had siblings that were friends with my siblings.
My first day at Wheatley was horrible, and being painfully shy didn’t help. I had no friends, I was overwhelmed, and I didn't know how to get around. Acclimating and getting to know the lay of the land took some time. Wheatley was very different from my Catholic school in Queens, with its diversity, cement playgrounds and nuns. Fitting in was difficult, as I wore different clothes, spoke differently, and was very self-conscious. Many students seemed to have been together since first grade, and it was difficult for me to break in. Wheatley was also such a large building, on an enormous piece of land. Sacred Heart was small, and I don't remember seeing any grass there.
Around this time I had my first drink, and that was the beginning of about eight years of active alcoholism. I always felt a void within me, and alcohol filled that chasm. I started to make friends with this new social lubricant. I was the star of the show, not shy, and my friends and I had outrageous fun. The movie ‘Animal House’ was our blueprint for living, and the actors were our role models. We often went to Fazios (beer distributor) on Jericho Tpke at lunch to buy beer and cigarettes. I would often cut class and party in the student parking lot. My friends and I would sneak into the local bars, such as Flannery’s and Horizons, and occasionally we would venture out to Old Brookville to go to Sgt. Peppers. Our default was to buy a case of beer and go to someone's basement, garage or to a public parking lot. I am not romanticizing the drinking but, rather, illustrating how important the drink was to my friends and me. It also shows the lengths to which my friends and I would go for alcohol, and how it was such a priority, especially for me.
My addiction helped to soothe my anxiety and social discomfort, but it obviously had a negative impact on my education. My SAT score was in the 3-digits, and I graduated at the bottom of my class. I was extremely immature and had no idea that I was attending a wonderful, top-rated school, full of some of the best teachers in the country. I will always love and respect Mrs. Hennelly. She had patience with me and pushed me out of my comfort zone in order to learn. She saw something in me that I did not see in myself. When any teacher would ask me a question, I would immediately respond, "I don't know." Mrs. Hennelly would always say, "I know you know the answer, just give yourself a chance." She also thought I was funny, which I knew about because she told my sister. She told my sister that she tried not to laugh when I was being a wise-guy in class. I remember going into the teacher's lounge to give a message, and the smoke was so staggering that the teachers were barely visible. I remember seeing Mrs. Hennelly smoking there, and it was so striking to see her out of context, enjoying a smoke. I was also in a remedial reading class with Mr. Kinas, which I resented. I was bitter and shameful about that because many people called it the 'dummy class.' (Years later, the VA did a battery of tests that determined that it was highly likely that I had a learning disability at one point that was never diagnosed). Mr. Kinas was a very kind and gentle soul. I regret that I gave him a very hard time. I was blessed to have run into him in 1988, and I was able to apologize to him. He was very kind, forgiving, and gracious about my poor behavior. (I have taught at different points in my life, and I am grateful I never had a student like me!).
The years went by quickly, and I continued to drink and do poorly. One highlight was taking Mr. Platt's summer driver education class, where I met my first girlfriend. (The class cost $10 in 1980.) She was magical, but I was a mess. (I eventually blew it and joined the navy). Having barely graduated from Wheatley, I stumbled into Nassau Community College and majored in Hotel/Restaurant management, mostly because it was somewhat alcohol related. My behaviors rolled over to college, and after a few years of popping in and out, I decided to join the navy. It was the best decision that I have ever made, and I am still reaping the benefits of that drunken decision. I'll resist boring the reader with the details of my four-year hitch, but the high points were getting sober in navy rehab and receiving a good conduct medal and honorable discharge. Miraculously, my last drink was 3/12/85. I went into the navy drunk and got out sober, which I believe was divinely inspired. It was a very unlikely place to stop drinking due to the abundant temptation and being around a lot of folks who drank often. Thankfully, God put someone in my life in the early 80s that was a positive influence on me. He was a proud USN Vietnam Vet, and his influence nudged me into the navy and in getting sober eventually. (I've attached a picture of me wearing a Wheatley sweatshirt while on my ship, the USS Holland AS-32.)
I got home from the navy with a new lease on life. I finally went back to NCC and completed a Marketing degree and had a very good GPA. I then went onto CUNY Hunter and Queens and received my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I was asked to be the student speaker at my undergraduate ceremony, and it was held at the Great Hall at Cooper Union in NYC……so odd for a guy like me to speak on the same stage on which Abraham Lincoln spoke in 1860. I was followed by the Deputy Mayor of Education, Dennis Walcott, who turned out to be from Cambria Heights as well and complimented me on my speech. I received my MSEd (School Counseling) and was often on the Dean's list and had a GPA of 3.9. I always thought that I lacked intelligence, but I was able to prove to myself that I was smart, which did not come easily. I worked full-time in college and had to put extra effort into my studies to do well. I have also had issues with not retaining information, so I needed to read and write the material repeatedly to understand. Writing a thesis while logging in 800 hours of internships was challenging, too, but I was determined after all of those wasted academic years at Wheatley.
As I continued my sober journey, I wanted to give back. Wheatley was such a wonderful school, and I was oblivious to that fact at the time. I contacted the principal, Mr. Glennon, in 1989 and asked if I could come in and speak to a class about alcoholism. He was very enthusiastic and said, ‘Yes.’ I wanted to contribute and bring positivity after years of foolishness. He sent me a beautiful letter afterwards (attached). It was surreal to be back at Wheatley; a navy vet, sober for four years, and 25 years old, talking about my vida loca and hoping to be a positive influence on at least one person. The prodigal son had finally returned to do good. (I actually applied for a school counseling job there about 12 years ago and was not hired. They wanted someone with more experience, and it was very competitive. I was just glad to have made an attempt and to come full circle, but it was not meant to be).
In closing, Wheatley has been a very special school since it opened its doors. It is always in the top 100 high schools in the country, and rightly so. I was just one of the many that passed through her halls, not leaving too much of an impact. I am simply grateful that my folks got us out of Queens for a better way of life, and to experience the blessings of Wheatley and the surrounding areas. I would not have had as many opportunities if we stayed in the old neighborhood. Wheatley's legacy is that we were blessed to have been given the opportunity for a high quality education in a wonderful school district. This has been occurring for decades and has produced thousands of very educated and prepared alumni that ventured out into the world seeking their desires. I myself had a very meandering path but eventually discovered the non-profit sector, where I support people with disabilities. I also did volunteer work with at-risk children, and was a Big Brother for a time. The field suits me, and I am able to give back. Reading the newsletters has made me very nostalgic but also regretful about my high school years. I felt compelled to submit my story, visit the past, confess my remorse, and speak of my redemption. My story is a cautionary tale filled with poor choices, but ultimately I've done some good, served my country, finally completed my degrees, and have tried to be of service. Wheatley's motto is, Veritatem Quaerite (Seek the Truth). Truth had always been a foreign concept for me, but once I discovered and accepted it, I was able to make changes. I'm grateful for my journey and realize that it couldn't have happened any other way. John J. Hughes, Class of 1981”
1985 - Jared Goldstein - A Night on the Town
L-R - Art Engoron (1967) and Jared Goldstein (1985) at Uncle Lou’s, 73 Mulberry Street, “Chinatown,” New York, January 23, 2023
Writes Amanda Hartman (2009) - “I love Susan Obrant’s paintings.”
Faculty (Earl Ewing) - ❤️
1958 (Carol Gettleman Berkowitz) - ❤️
1959 (Beth Davidson) - “Thanks for all you’re doing to keep the memories alive!”
1960 (Paul “Bick” Keister) - “Dear Art, Thank you for all the work you put in to YOUR/our Wheatley Newsletter. It is a joy to read them, and you deserve many accolades! Betsy & I wish you and all Wheatley Grads the BEST!”
1961 (Richard Safft) - “Thank you for the wonderful newsletters.”
1963 (Deborah Krane-now-Crane) - “Dear Art, You do so much for us Wildcats. I am very grateful for all you do and am proud to be an alumna of a school that you also attended and care so deeply about.”
1965 (Bob Gregory) - “I appreciate the time and effort that you unselfishly give to keep Wheatley grads well informed. Stay healthy, because we won't find another you.”
1966 (Claude Levy) - “Count me in your fan club, as I am indeed grateful for your Wildcat work.”
1967 (Jill Simon Forte) - “Another good one. Glen Hammer (1965) and his younger twin brothers, Lee and Jay, lived around the corner from my family’s home on Stirrup Lane. I love the way these newsletters bring back such fun memories.”
1968 (Carol Chock) - “Thanks again for the amazing effort you have sustained to keep us connected.”
1969 (Jill Wattel Stockinger) - ❤️
1970 (Maria Giordano Gittleman) - ❤️
1970 (Mitch Shapiro) - “Great job with the Newsletter, as always.”
1971 (Nancy Grindlinger) - ❤️
1974 (Donna Bloom Cave) - “Thank you for your time and energy publishing this newsletter. I enjoy reading it.”
1975 (Patricia Koenig Franzino) - “Your time, attention and dedication to keeping all of us Wildcats connected has been nothing short of amazing, and for that I know we all thank you - I most certainly do.”
1975 (Patrice Maller) - “The newsletter is a great way to start my day. Thanks to everyone involved for your time and energy. It is appreciated by many.”
1980 (Steven Marchelos) - ❤️
1981 (John J. Hughes) - “Thanks so much for all of the hard work you put into the Newsletter!”
2006 (Scott Silverberg) - “I enjoy reading the Newsletters.”
2009 (Amanda Hartman) - “I love the Newsletters.”
That’s it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 92. Please send us your autobiography before someone else sends us your obituary.
Arthur Fredericks Engoron, Class of 1967