2014-06-05 / News

Island Treasures more than career day

By Margo Sullivan

Students at Lawn School Friday attempt to spray orange cones off of a faux rock located on the playground. The fire department participated in Island Treasures. 
Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten Students at Lawn School Friday attempt to spray orange cones off of a faux rock located on the playground. The fire department participated in Island Treasures. Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten K9 Abby, the bloodhound, made an appearance at Lawn School on Friday for Island Treasures Day.

Abby and the rest of the team – Ziva, McGree and Blue, along with their human handlers, Luann and Bill Botelho – demonstrated a search and rescue operation on the ball fields.

It looked like a game of hide and seek, but the demo, which was designed to show the children the basics about tracking, was an eyeopener, according to sixth-grader Al Julanda, 11. He hadn’t realized dogs could pick up a scent and figure out the exact place where that person had been standing.

He learned that “dogs can find people,” he said. Al and several other students took turns being the missing person, and then working the other side to track their classmates with the dogs’ help.

The program was just one of 26 presentations during the school’s eighth annual Island Treasures Day, an event that the school department has described as “an educational outreach day connecting our students with our community.”

Jamestown parents Kirie Reveron and Lisa Tuttle served as this year’s co-chairwomen.

“Island Treasures is a unique event for a unique island,” Reveron said. “It’s not a career day at all, but a true celebration of the many passions, hobbies and important work that happen in Jamestown all year long.”

Reveron said this year is her first working on the committee. Another parent asked her to take over the event, and she agreed as long as Tuttle could help.

“It certainly benefits the students at Lawn (School), but it also benefits the community as a whole,” she said. “There are very few places that could have both a rich collection of talent and the deep sense of community.”

Reveron dropped in at several presentations during the day and said she had a hard time leaving U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha’s presentation, “ATF Agent for the Day: Infiltrate and Take Down a Gang.”

Neronha brought an undercover ATF agent to school, along with video and audio tapes of the federal sting operation that resulted in the 2007 arrest of Khek Choummalaithong, better known as “Evil K.” Three other gang members who thought they were robbing a drug dealer’s home were also apprehended.

The house didn’t really exist, Neronha said. The gang members were supposed to follow the undercover detective to a storage unit to pick up a rented car. A SWAT team was waiting inside.

But things went wrong when all four gang members decided to jump into the detective’s car. “All the bad guys piled into his car,” he said. “Three were in the back seat. All were armed.”

According to Neronha, one carried a shotgun. To make matters worse, Evil K took a dislike to the detective. It seemed as if things could not go more wrong until they reached the storage facility and Evil K spotted the cover team’s car.

Neronha asked the students if they knew why the gang would use a rented car. They did: To prevent the police from identifying them, the students said.

One of the youngsters referred to the television program “Breaking Bad” to ask Neronha if molly and ecstasy are two different drugs.

“‘Breaking Bad?’” Neronha quipped. “I’m still on ‘House of Cards.’”

He turned to the undercover detective.

“I don’t know. Are they?” he asked. The detective confirmed molly is a pure form of ecstasy and costs $25 for just one capsule.

Neronha showed the students pictures he used in court to show the storage facility where the detective drove the gang members. A prosecutor should always go out to the scenes in person to prepare the case, he said.

Besides the gang takedown, the students also enjoyed Commander Greg Keeney’s aerodynamics program, which featured an ejection seat.

Island Treasures also included some trips away from school, such as a visit to Windmist Farm and a tour of a glass studio. Students traveled to the home of Gale and Gerry Bay to see their collection of carousel organs, music boxes and nickelodeons. At the House of Pizza, Fred Bingell showed the youngsters how to spin dough. For a different adventure, Drs. Suzy Ayvazian and Boze Hancock took the children trawling for fish near Quonset Point and Fox Island. And that’s just a sample of the many workshops held during the morning and afternoon.

Cyrus Ring-Petersen, 12, attended a cartooning class with illustrator Will Wilson and the K-9 demonstration.

“I really like dogs,” he said, “and I’ve been very interested in watching K-9 units.” Although Cyrus would not want to go into police work, he might want to study dogs and understand why they can excel at search and rescue.

“They seem like a very interesting species I’d like to investigate,” he said. “I’d like to do animal science.”

Jake Keeney, 12, also signed up to watch the canines because he wanted to see “how they would train a dog to find something or someone.” He doesn’t have a dog, but he likes them. He learned the technique, and came away understanding that the dogs need something that will give them the scent before they can go to work.

Summing up, Reveron said that Island Treasures Day was once again a success, both educational and enjoyable.

“A sense of pride in our community is reflected in every participant of the event, from the students to the planners to the presenters,” she said.

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