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Pumpkin Patch 2016

Pumpkin Patch 2016 took place on Saturday, October 15 and it was a gorgeous, warm fall day.  The event was very well attended with over 200 people, who included costumed students, smiling parents and happy Barnard staff.  Attendees picked pumpkins from the orange dotted hill, enjoyed cider and donuts served by wonderful PTA parents, painted pumpkins at long picnic tables with friends, and showed their colorful Halloween costumes in a festive parade.  Three prizes of large pumpkins were awarded to the best costumes.  A great time was had by all.

Pumpkin Patch 2016

Pumpkin Patch 2016

Note: These slide shows take a moment to load.

Picking pumpkins - photos set 1

Event photos - photos set 2

Costume photos - photos set 3

Painting Pumpkins - photos set 4

15th Anniversary of 9-11 at Amy's Greenhouse

On Sunday, September 11th at 11:00am, the Amy’s Greenhouse committee held their annual  commemoration ceremony.  The event, attended by approximately 200 people, remembers Amy O’Doherty, the 23 year old daughter of a since retired Barnard Pre-K teacher, Geraldine Davie.  Amy’s Greenhouse is a living memorial in her memory.   Hundreds of Barnard students, who are grade Pre-K through 2nd grade participate in monthly gardening projects, such as the pumpkin project, amaryllis project and propagating spider plants.  Events are held at Amy’s Greenhouse throughout the year including the October Pumpkin Patch and spring Mother Day fair.
The event, led by Amy's Greenhouse Chairwoman Millie Radonjic-Ilich, started in the school auditorium.  Brother Kevin Devlin from Iona College said a prayer, New Rochelle High School senior and senior class president, Nick Townley, sang the National Anthem.  Then a 22 minute video about Amy’s Greenhouse was shown.  The video was created by a committee of Millie Radonjic, Angela Taylor and Karen Hessel.  New Rochelle videographer Nick Carter created the video.

The video featured three speakers: former superintendent Linda Kelly, who gave the history of the greenhouse, how it was funded and ongoing projects; Barnard alumni and current New Rochelle 11th grader, Sam Pekats, who spoke about how Amy’s Greenhouse has affected his life; Barnard alumni and current elementary student Savanna DiFatta, spoke about how Amy’s Greenhouse helped her battle leukemia.  She is affectionately named the “Butterfly” of Amy’s Greenhouse.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Diane Massimo, Assistant Principal Dr. Lori Pisani, State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Mayor Bramson spoke.  Geraldine Davie, mother of Amy O’Doherty, spoke as did Amy O’Doherty’s sister, Maura.  The Parkchester Kiwanis Club gave a $1,000 check to Amy's Greenhouse.  A wonderful Iona student sang Amazing Grace. 

Then everyone walked down to the Amy’s Greenhouse patio for the annual brick unveiling.  Over a dozen volunteers, many in families, from Volunteer NY handed out small flags to attendees and guided them. Engraved bricks and plaques, sold throughout the year to fund monthly gardening projects, were unveiled. 

In attendance were state senator, George Latimer; local New Rochelle councilmen, Al Tarantino and Jared Rice; Police commissioner, Patrick Carroll; Board of Education president, Rachel Relkin; Board of Education Vice President, Maddali Atallah; former BOE member Mary Jane Reddington and other guests.  11 commemorative bricks were unveiling, including two that celebrate the birth of Amy Davie Lee, who would have been Amy O’Doherty’s niece.

Enjoy the slideshows below.  All photos by John Hessel.  Note that they take a moment to load.  Thanks for your patience.

Set 1 --

Set 2 --

Set 3 -

Second Grade Classes Present Donation to Amy's Greenhouse

On June 7th, 2016 the entire second grade class, composed of four teachers and students, presented Millie Radonjic-Ilich with an oversized check towards Amy's Greenhouse.  The students had raised the monies with healthy snack sale.

 It was a sweet and touching event.

Millie Receives Check from second graders

Here are some exerpts from the children's remarks:

"Good Afternoon, Miss Millie.  We thank you for coming out today."

"We have decided to donate our healthy snack sale profit to a good cause."

"We chose to give it to a place where it is warm and special.  Where children and teachers come together to plant and grow."

"To plant seeds of togetherness and friendship, to water the leanrin experiences and activities we do there with love and care."

"We want to present $70.00 to Amy's Greenhouse where we come to remember Amy, a special person, and you Millie a great friend and an important part of our Barnard family.  Thank you Millie for all you do for us."

Entire second grade class and teachers sit in amphitheater during fundraising presentation

Children present check to Millie at Amy's Greenhouse

Pumpkin Patch & Costume Parade 2015

This was the best year yet!  Special thanks to all who donated beautifully decorated baked treats, cases of water and precious time working the various stations and behind the scenes.  Special thanks to Ms. Genovese, Dr. Pisani, Mrs. Coronios, Mrs. Gluck, Mrs. DePaolo, Mrs. Augustino, Ms. Bracamonte, Ms. Manouseulis, Mr. Giraldo and Mr.Varghese. Truly, this event could not have happened without you all. I am so proud to be part of this Barnard family and to see just how many of you gave valuable time, energy and resources - WOW! The smiles on the children's faces said it all.

So many, many families attended this Saturday's Pumpkin Patch!  Autumn was in the air and smiles were everywhere!  Crowds of children in costume and their families meandered around the Amy's Greenhouse, picking pumpkin after pumpkin to paint and decorate. Each pumpkin became an original work of art, thanks to a special collaboration between guest artist Gene Pinto and the children themselves. The finished painted pumpkins were displayed on the amphitheater benches and low walls of the patio, as a colorful, seasonal art display.  While the pumpkins were showcased, children enjoyed sweet baked treats and cider.

Thank you Gino Pinto, our visting artist, for his wonderful work creating faces on the pumpkins.

Thank you Asisstant Principal, Dr. Pisani for coming to Barnard Pumpkin Patch 2015!

Thank you Principal Genovese for attending Pumpkin Patch 2015!

The excitement of the day indeed culminated with the highly anticipated Costume Parade!  The costumes included Princesses, girl Captain America, mummies, ninjas, knights, policeman, skeletons, fairies and more.  The excited children, led by Mary DePaolo and Batman, proudly paraded around the Barnard School building as their parents took photos.  The costume parade was great fun for all!  Congratulations to the student with the Minions costume for first place, who won a decorated pumpkin!

Here is Marc & Elizabeth, Amy O'Doherty's friends, with their twin boys.  Thank you for your donation, too!

The pumpkin and snack purchases support Amy's Greenhouse projects throughout the school year and the support is appreciated.  While fun was had by all, this Pumpkin Patch and Costume parade tradition is also a learning experience.  The event teaches our children the value of traditions, friendship and families.  It further connects the students and parents with the school and shows the community how truly special Amy's Greenhouse is.  These happy memories will become part of our student's lifelong recollections of childhood.

9-11-2015 Memorial Ceremony

Amy's friends: Elizabeth and Marc Rapuano with tween boys Patrick & 

Amy's sister Maura and her children with Amy's friends and children...

Millie Honored at New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence Gala - November 13, 2014

The New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence hosted their annual Foundation Awards Gala on Thursday, November 13th at The Fountainhead, New Rochelle.

Awardees included: Andrea Mitchell NRHS graduate '63, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent; Deidre Polow, 25 years on Board of Education; Milijana ("Millie") Radonjic, Amy's Greenhouse at Barnard School; and Gwen and Alvin Clayton, Alvin & Friends Restaurant.  Errol Louis NRHS graduate '80, Host of "Inside City Hall" on NY 1 News , CNN Contributor, and Columnist, The Daily News hosted.

Millie receiving educational award at NR Fund for Academic Excellence Gala

Millie giving her acceptance speech at NR Fund for Educational Excellence Gala

Millie and Susan Weisman, Director of New Rochelle Fund for Academic Excellence

Millie and Susan Weisman, Director NR Fund for Educational Excellence at Gala

Learn & Grow Amy's Greenhouse book, placed in center of the tables at gala dinner event

Learn & Grow Amy's Greenhouse children's book was at the center of each table at gala.

Milijana Radonjic & Karen Hessel at New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence gala.

From left: Superintendent Osbourne, a guest, Andrea Mitchell, Susan Weisman, a guest at gala event.

Mayor Bramson at New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence gala.

Gorgeous Barnard PTA moms -- Michelle Peduto-Pappas & Sara Odell.

Millie and Barnard teacher Trish Calo- Flanagan at New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence gala.

Barnard student Savanna Defatta gives speech at New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence gala.

Here are Millie Radonjic's remarks:

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am so honored to receive this award among my fellow honorees: Mrs. Deirdre Polow, Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Clayton and Ms. Andrea Mitchell.  I am also proud of the students who are receiving their Achievement Awards tonight.

 I am humbled to be recognized for something I truly love to do.  Serving others, as I do through the Kiwanis Club, and gardening, especially with children, which are two of my great passions in life. 

I have been fortunate to pursue my passions through the support of my three families:

My first family includes my extraordinary man Danny, my son and my sister with her family.

My second family is the Kiwanis family.  This is where I am able to live the vision of service to those less fortunate.

Daniel Hess once said:    "Service is: Giving what you don’t have to give. Giving when you don’t need to give. Giving because you want to give."

My third family is my Barnard family where Amy’s Greenhouse lives.

 I would never have been able to accomplish the projects and goals I had with children without the support of the Barnard administration, my colleagues and the PTA families.  Tonight I am happy to see some of these individuals here; my Principal, Mrs. Genovese; the Assistant Principal, Dr. Pisani; School secretary, Joanie; Trish Flanagan, the very first teacher to be involved with the Greenhouse and others.

 I am so touched to also see some of those PTA moms who first lent their support and hands; Melissa, Lauren, Sara Kremins, Sara Odell, Kathy, Suzanne, Dana, Michelle and Karen (who also wrote the fabulous book you have on your tables).

 As the original project has grown, expanded and continues to blossom, I have to give great thanks to Frank Miceli and Greg Pappas for their generous contributions.

Over the past ten years of the Greenhouse project I have received so many words of praise, thanks and recognition from parents, Amy’s family and others in the community.  I am grateful yet the most rewarding sentiments come from the children.

 I would like to present someone who embodies what the Greenhouse is all about.  Savanna was enrolled in the CILA program at Barnard School last September, the same time she was diagnosed with Leukemia.  After spending a year out of school, bravely receiving harsh treatments to fight her illness she came to the school and paid me a visit in the Greenhouse last Spring. 

Immediately she was excited to learn all about what was growing and had a million questions for me.  As she flitted around, she was lit up with curiosity and energy.  I named her Amy’s Greenhouse Butterfly. She came few times after, we plant and we made father’s day gift flowers in his construction boots…And we talk… I told her that I am cancer survivor too and that I know she will be OK…

 This year she is attending school full time, doing very well and participating in the Gardening Club after school program.  I would like to introduce to you this lovely young lady, Savanna, the Amy’s Greenhouse Butterfly.  She would like to share with you what to plant in life by reading a short poem. 

What to Plant in Life - poem read by Barnard Student at gala

Pumpkin Patch & Costume Parade

This is how it started.

Artist drawing faces....

This is the day of the Pumpkin Patch.




Created by James Florin



On Thursday, September 11th, 2014, the Amy's Greenhouse Committee and Barnard School hosted their annual 9-11 ceremony at 3:30pm.  Here are a few photos.


May 26, 2014

Savanna visits Amy’s Greenhouse

This week we had an important visitor at Amy's Greenhouse, Savanna DiFatta. Savanna and her mother toured Amy's Greenhouse, visiting Barnard after courageously battling cancer for much of her first grade year.  Savanna, former kindergarten student of Jefferson Elementary and now enrolled in the Children's International Language Academy (CILA) for Italian at Barnard, was diagnosed with Leukemia on September 2, 2013.  She has been bravely fighting her illness with the untiring support of her family.  Amy's Greenhouse visitors may recall the Pumpkin Patch event in October at Amy’s Greenhouse where a table was set up to raise monies for "Team Savanna" to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


 On Thursday, Savanna arrived at Amy's Greenhouse with a million questions -- why do spider plants make babies, how do cactus plants live without water, can I plant a seed, where did all these flower pots come from and more.  She loved that flowers grew out of sneakers and promised to bring shoes to recreate the project.  She looked at all the plants, garden tools, pots, mini fairy figurines and wind chimes.  Millie helped her propagate a spider plant, transplant a plant to a larger pot and water flowers.   Savanna was so excited and positive.  She was an amazing delight.


Millie asked her how old she was, and Savanna said "I am six years old, but my birthday is tomorrow, I will be 7 years old!"  Millie showered her with a variety of greenhouse gifts.  Savanna was sent home with an amaryllis that hasn't bloomed yet.  Millie revealed to Savannah that she, too had cancer fourteen years ago and remembers bad days and how hard it was.  Savanna's eyes welled up with tears, but Millie told her not to give up, because look at Millie, doing great!  We all wish Savanna a complete recovery and welcome her and her family, anytime, to Amy's Greenhouse.


Savanna update

Once Savanna had the gardening bug bite, she couldn't stay away from Amy's Greenhouse.Savanna and her mom arrived back to the cheerful patio within one week with big men's boots that clearly needed flowers planted in them.

Millie gladly provided the soil and planting material and Savanna created a masterpiece.Don't tell her dad, because he will be seeing this unique Father's Day gift soon.
  Father's Day Gift

Coincidently, during the boot planting project, first grade teacher Mrs. Staropoli stopped by Amy's Greenhouse with her brown bag lunch.Mrs. Staropoli recently returned to Barnard after fighting breast cancer for most of the 2013-2014 school year. Millie, Mrs. Staropoli and Savanna shared a moment of solidarity among those who experience the difficult journey of cancer.It was a meeting both happy and sad at the same time.




Savanna's sparkling personality and optimistic outlook earned her the nick name " Butterfly at Amy's Greenhouse". Savanna we will you soon. Come any time!

We learned that another member of the Barnard family, Ms. Blanco, fought same type of cancer that Savanna has.  Both Ms. Blanco and Savanna participated in the recent fundraising- Light The Night Walk.  See photo below.


To see previous events,   click here.  

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