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Facility dog brings smiles to middle school students

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On a daily basis, 2-year-old Oric, a yellow Lab/Golden Retriever mix, brings smiles and joy to the faces of Westhampton Beach Middle School students.

Oric, the school’s new facility dog, recently made his first appearance at the school with his handler, social worker Kathryn Swezey.

“Oric has already made an impact in the few days he has been at the middle school,” said Swezey. “The students all light up when they see him enter the hallways or their classrooms.”

Swezey broached the idea of bringing a facility dog into the school a year and a half ago. Once approved by administration, she began the official application process with Canine Companions for Independence. The nonprofit provides facility, companion and service dogs at no cost.

Before being matched with Swezey, Oric, who was bred for temperament, was raised by a volunteer puppy trainer for 16 months and then returned for six months of professional training at the Northeast Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence in Medford. While training, Oric learned 40 impressive commands. He is skilled at turning off lights, opening and closing doors and drawers, and, of course, making students smile.

Prior to taking Oric home and into the school, Swezey was required to complete two weeks of training and pass a final practical to become a certified handler. She is required to be recertified in another six months and then annually.

Swezey says Oric will assist in individual and group counseling, as well as working in the classroom to help deliver the school’s social emotional learning curriculum. He will also act as a social bridge for students who may have difficulties socializing and those who exhibit anxiety and school phobia.

“Oric will help deliver lessons on loyalty, friendship, responsibility, kindness, respect, mindfulness and so much more,” said Swezey. “The possibilities are limitless.”

When not at school, Swezey said, Oric spends his time going for long walks, playing with his sister Daisy, who is a pit bull mix, and just being a regular dog.

Date Added: 6/2/2023

Westhampton Beach Middle School thespians showcase talent

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Westhampton Beach Middle School thespians recently presented an impressive performance of “Curtains!” by Craig Sodaro. The family-friendly, comedic production showcased the talents of middle school students in grades 6-8. In preparing for the production, students gained new skills, built confidence on stage and created lifelong memories with each other.

Date Added: 5/23/2023

Cookies for canines

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Westhampton Beach Middle School seventh grade family and consumer sciences classes recently baked pumpkin-flavored dog treats for their pets and for Bidawee’s adoption center. The treats will also be given to the school’s new facility dog, Oric.

Date Added: 5/22/2023

Westhampton Beach Middle School students raise autism awareness

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Westhampton Beach Middle School students recently raised $185 for the Anderson Center for Autism as part of a pajama day autism awareness fundraiser. The students worked to collect donations during their lunch periods. The annual fundraiser was inaugurated by Westhampton Beach High School alumna Abby Edwards, who has been coordinating local autism awareness pajama day fundraisers for the Anderson Center since 2017.

Date Added: 4/27/2023

Westhampton Beach MS NJHS inductees named

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Westhampton Beach Middle School is proud to announce that 73 students have been named as National Junior Honor Society members. The students were officially inducted during a candle-lighting ceremony.

To be eligible for membership, the students were required to maintain an unweighted GPA of 92 or better; meet the standards of leadership, service, citizenship and character; and complete community service.

“This is an amazing group of young people and I'm excited to work with them this year,” said NJHS adviser Camille Pedersen.

Westhampton Beach Middle School congratulates the following inductees:

Elhani Armijos, Angely Bardales Ramos, Alexandra Barry, Sarah Beckmann, Tyler Bennett, Olivia Bittner Namvar, Dylan Blenk, Lily Blenk, Lily Bonawandt, Liam Brand, Mia Brown, Hayden Calhoun, Jake Calloway, Lea Cavaliere, Avery Celi, Ava Conti, Crosby Cutler, Lila Davin, Quinn Davis, Annabelle Emerson Molinoff, Carol Estrada, Nicole Fink, Evangelia Gaetano, Daphne Garcia, Jasmin Garcia Barrientos, Sarai Garzon Melo, Taylor Gdula, Brett Geller, Emmanuel Gomez, Olivia Gonzalez, Nico Grazina, Zoe Grellet Aumont, Abigail Halloran, Magnus Haynia, Nicolas Hochhauser, Brady Hudson, Sophia Hussain, Adam Iqbal, Olivia Kampfer, Evelyn Kuroski, Emma Luzim, Teagan Lynch, Colleen McCormack, Leandra Melo, Lily Mensch, Ellie Mett, Penelope Meyer, David Meyers, Amanda Michne, Weronika Mikucka, Gabriel Monserrate, Christina Nikolopoulos, John Nuzzi, Erik Olsson, James Ostensen, Douglas Owens, Beren Ozgurcag, Caden Padavan, Adam Poulmentis, Luca Presutti, Rafael Remetta, Avery Rilling, Blake Rudolph, Bella Ruggiero, Joseph Ruiz Estrada, Liam Sarian, Reagan Schindler, Grayden Scott, Nicholas Simone, Grace Smith, Matthew Suarez, Elizabeth Sultan and Matias Triaca.

Date Added: 4/6/2023