Focus: Adelphi’s ‘Civility’ Agenda Can Be Great Inspiration Here

February 16, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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While too many are bemoaning the coarsening of social intercourse — so prevalent in the social and mass media these days — true leaders are actually doing something about it.

In Bay Ridge, for instance, it should be no surprise that a leading educational institution, Adelphi Academy, headed by Dr. Roy Blash, is holding another “Civility” initiative titled “Fostering Equality,” which will coincide with its 2012 Black History Month Celebration.

Working with his Executive Director Al Corhan and a talented faculty, Dr. Blash has fashioned what is titled “A Glimpse Into History — The Civility Project,” which will take place March 1.

Getting underway 7 p.m. that night at Adelphi, 86th Street and Ridge Boulevard, the agenda will highlight “The Life and Art of Billie B. Thomas and the Poetry of Louise Miller.”

The driving themes of this second Adelphi civility program will reflect and add to the first very well-received rendition.

Held atop the scenic Adelphi “bluff” on a bright spring day, Part I featured peaceful and authentic Civil War re-enactments. Visitors particularly appreciated one student’s well-planned, ongoing performance of “Leaves of Grass,” dressed and speaking in the style of the great Walt Whitman, a long-ago editor of the Brooklyn Eagle.

Dr. Blash is unrelenting when he outlines his goal for the student body and the civility agenda, which include Adelphi’s commitment to school civility, providing students with a “bully free” school year, addressing cyber-bullying and “searching for core values that make up character.”

It’s so refreshing to hear a leading scholar like Dr. Blash emphasize “core values” in an era when more and more alleged values are being imposed — inflicted — on our youth by a troubling, enveloping culture that often prefers to entertain by demeaning young people who aspire to improve their minds and their lives.

Aware that the “basics” are always in order, the Adelphi observance will go back to where civil rights got an official start — the era of President Abraham Lincoln.

True ‘Civil Rights’
A Long Time Coming

Since the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted way back in 1863, the easy assumption is that it was immediately implemented in good faith by all — North and South. Not so. It took more than a century. Just to get started.

Adelphi’s President has demonstrated that he is not given to the lure of such “easy assumptions,” which is one main reason why the March 1 program will also underscore that it took almost a full century — until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — for Lincoln’s lofty achievement to enjoy the full force of the law.

Students will lead in other presentations as well, those from the Middle School narrating “I, Too,” with Upper School students rendering the beautiful, bittersweet “America” by Langston Hughes.

In addition to Dr. Blash and Al Corhan’s leadership, Adelphi’s ebullient Director of External Affairs Emil “Chip” Cafiero will be lending his considerable community awareness skills to publicizing and presenting Civility Part II, the evening of March 1.

‘Civility’ a Good Theme
For ‘Summer Stroll’

It’s just a coincidence, but Adelphi Academy is a member in respected standing in the Merchants of Third Avenue, the civic-business association that is sponsoring a very civilized “Summer Stroll” extravaganza on four selected Friday nights in July and August.

Led by Marketing Director Bina Valenzano (The BookMark Shoppe partner of Christine Freglette), and with full support of President Bob Howe and other MTA officers, the “Summer Stroll” proposal was approved by a Community Board 10 committee headed by Barrister Brian Kieran last week.

“Summer Stroll on 3rd,” initially proposed by Sen. Marty Golden and Councilman Vinnie Gentile, has been adapted by the MTA and will see the popular thoroughfare partially closed off to traffic (80th to 89th streets) and converted into a “Venetian Piazza,” in the artfully chosen words of Ms. Valenzano. (Controlled cross-street traffic will proceed to ensure that valet parkers can conveniently reach their dining destinations.)

“Civility will definitely be in order for our ‘Summer Strolls,’” one MTA officer told CB10 last week. “As a homeowner right off Third, I’m as sick as you are all of the drinking, the vomiting and (worse),” the mild-mannered speaker said.
Ms. Valenzano and the MTA officers are working with District Manager Josephine Beckmann, Ray Riley of Sen. Golden’s office and Gentile staffer Justin Brannan.

“This is not the Third Avenue Festival,” a spokesman added. “Nor is it the anti-Festival — we love the (Sept. 30) Festival, which helps business and brings new people from all over the city to Bay Ridge. Thanks to Chip Cafiero and 68th Precinct Capt. Richard DiBlasio and P.O. Anthony Curran, ours is the most successful, longest-lasting of any festival in the city! We believe that ‘Summer Strolls’ has the same positive potential as the Festival!”

“Our ‘Summer Strolls’ nights will be unique,” said Ms. Valenzano, who spoke eloquently before Community Board 10, winning the backing of many members at the Shore Hill committee meeting. “It will give us a chance to bring out scores of arts groups — singing groups, drama groups and more — to fill our beautiful avenue with wonderful sights, sounds and excellent cuisine. Those taking a ‘stroll’ down Third Avenue will enjoy an enriching experience in a safe and artistically fashioned environment.”

Almost on cue, a group of Third Avenue proprietors arose in the back of the meeting room, among them Anthony Rinaldi (Pearl Room), Mike Esposito (CEBU) and Ted Mann (Gold Coast Delicatessen).

‘Summer Strolls’ Can Move
Up and Down Third Ave.

There was a dissenting businessman who was understandably upset that his establishment was outside the “zone” because the “Summer Stroll” is limited to a restricted area predetermined by city rules.

“When this one succeeds,” an officer said, “There’ll be a clamor to make it a ‘moveable feast’ located at different blocks on the avenue.”

Special awards and/or recognition will be given to those with the most imaginative presentations at the ‘Summer Strolls,’ according to a reliable source, who added, “We want to encourage the cultural community in Bay Ridge to come together in meaningful and fun activities that will earn Bay Ridge the ‘arts showcase’ of Brooklyn that it truly is!”

In addition to Ms. Valenzano, others hard at work are Chandra Hira, Bay Ridge Festival of the Arts; Georgine Benvenuto, Gallery 364; Karen Tadross, Bay Ridge Community Council Arts and Cultural Committee; preservationist Victoria Hofmo, arts liaison for Councilman Gentile, who is also curator for the Scandinavian Museum; other MTA officers, including First Vice President Jay Sessa, Second Vice President Wade Jabour, Treasurer Cathy DiTirro, Corresponding Secretary Rhea McCone, Secretary Lloyd Berg, Recording Secretary Leigh Holliday, with this writer serving as executive secretary.

“Come on down to Bay Ridge, you strollers from Williamsburg! Come on DUMBO! Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Cobble Hill too!” exclaimed an exuberant “Summer Strolls” champion. “We’re going to work hard to make our ‘Summer Strolls’ the envy of the entire borough!”

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