Katonah-Lewisboro School District To Host Family Workshop

It’s that time of the year again. The holiday season has kicked in. Stores are stocking up their shelves with goodies. The shopping spree is in full-swing. The spirit of gift-giving is in the air.

Thanksgiving is round the corner.

And family and friends are looking forward with feverish excitement to getting together over a meal of turkey and pumpkin pie and having some heart-to-heart chat.

Doing its bit to foster familial bonding, this year, the Katonah-Lewisboro Family University will host a workshop series on November 14, at the John Jay Middle School campus.

The event is aimed at helping parents and kids understand each other better and to encourage them to open up about problems that more often than not get swept under the rug—sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence, to name a few.

The three-hour-long interactive evening will feature an impressive lineup of speakers, who’ll present a total of 24 workshops, 13 of which will take place during the first session between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The remaining 11 will resume in the second session, between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. after a short, half-hour dinner break.

‘This year, we decided not to have a keynote speaker,” said Lauren Smith, Family University’s Director and a mother of triplets, who’re fifth-graders at the Katonah Elementary School.

An old favorite is back. For those of you who’d missed Michael Nerney at the Fox Lane Middle School, just recently, here’s your chance to hear him again.

In “Kids in the Candy Store,” the nationally-acclaimed expert on substance-abuse prevention and former director of the National Drug Research, will advise parents on how to identify items like over-the-counter medication, prescription drugs, and common household products that preteens and adolescents can trip on.

In his second workshop, Mr. Nerney will turn the microphone over to parents and allow them to ask questions relevant to them at the personal level.

Whether we can accept it or not, disappointments are a part of life. But how we can deal with them is what Dr. Samuel. C. Klagsburn, Executive Medical Director of the Four Winds Hospitals in Cross River, will talk about.

His workshop titled, “Dealing with Disappointment,” will help the audience figure out ways of turning failure into blocks of self-esteem, self-reliance, and independent decision-making skills.

Middle School students can experience what it’s like to be inebriated. Not by guzzling hard liquor, but through “foggles”—special lenses, designed to stimulate the effects of alcohol on the human brain.

In “Foggles,” John Jay Middle School social worker, Jessica Fulton, will show youngsters how a booze-addled mind perceives reality.

Sergeant Frank Secret of the Lewisboro Police Department and police officer Bill Smith of the Bedford Police Department will speak about the perils of drunken driving, underage drinking, and drug-possession in “Under 21 and the Law” that’s geared towards high school students.

Together with Westchester County assistant district attorney Bruce Kelly and John Jay High School social worker Kiri Ryan, they’ll conduct a follow-up workshop titled, “Parents Who Host Lose the Most,” where they’ll educate parents about the legal risks of serving alcohol at house parties in New York State.

A non-profit community group, the Family University of the Katonah-Lewisboro Family School District, was born 14 years ago, when a group of anxious teachers, parents, students, counselors, and other professionals responded to a series of alcohol and drug related deaths of John Jay High School students.

“We started out as a model for drug and alcohol prevention,” said Ms. Smith. But today, it’s become more of a forum where parents and children can interact and discuss hot-button issues that are of mutual concern to both.”

“The model has met with so much success that it’s been emulated in various school districts around the county. “I believe they’re now doing this in Bedford, Mamaroneck, Tarrytown,” she said.

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