By Rachel Xie
Students at New Hyde Park Memorial are experiencing a change of scenery by moving their practices to the indoor recreation center at the Police Athletic League. This facility, located on Denton Avenue, has been the designated location for sports that are not able to practice at the school itself.
Due to the gym's restricted space, different sports have had to work around odd time slots to fit in their practices throughout the week. Gymnastics, for example, have their practices in the same space where cheerleaders formerly resided. This led to cheerleaders practicing their routines and stunts on the mats down in the basement of the PAL.
“I do not mind the new environment. I just feel like we cannot do much with the time slot we have. However, I am definitely grateful that we have time at all and get to use that to better ourselves as a team, and it just shows how much we can get done in a more limited amount of time,” said senior Rachel Cantave.
The commute to the PAL is a short distance by car, but can take up to 10 minutes by foot. In the beginning of the season, cheerleaders would band together and walk as a group for those that did not commute by car. As the temperature decreased, many stopped walking and instead helped each other carpool. Seniors who are able to drive often offer rides to the underclassmen who are left stranded walking in the freezing cold.
“I feel like it is a more focused environment for the girls and I to practice in. It is better for us to not be distracted by the sounds of other sports and people, so we can focus on our stunts and the performances coming up,” said senior Arista Kakaounakis.
Source from Gianna Cassata
Student volunteer senior Gianna Cassata coaches girls at the PAL and demonstrates advanced stunts to immerse them into the sport.
Not only are school sport practices held in the facility at the PAL, student volunteers also offer their time and energy to lend a helping hand to basketball, cheer, volleyball and art-related activities. Seniors and upperclassmen are usually asked to aid in leading practices for the younger grades.
The art program at the PAL, for example, is mostly led by student volunteers. Volunteers are supplied through the National Art Honor Society, which is advised by Ms. Livoti. About three to five NAHS members were sought out to be arts and crafts activity leaders, working with kids ranging from grades kindergarten to sixth grade. Sessions are determined by grade, kindergarten to second graders only last about 15 minutes long, while third to sixth graders last closer to an hour.
To start off the program, two members are asked to head down to the PAL and do an inventory of their supplies. Then, student volunteers are the ones in charge of putting together the activities and crafts for each session and letting the people at the PAL know what supplies are needed for each week. The program will officially begin running for eight weeks starting in January.
For NAHS members, being a student volunteer who signed up for this program not only has the benefits of including volunteer work on academic resumes, they are also able to count these hours towards the art-related service hour requirements for the National Art Honor Society.
The PAL also provides space for student-led sports programs. These programs include basketball, volleyball and others. Such programs help kids stay active, try out different sports to find the one they love and start becoming a skilled player at a younger age. Each session for sports lasts about one hour and can range from 10 to 30 participants.
“I am definitely grateful that we have time at all and get to use that to better ourselves as a team...”
“It was a wonderful opportunity for me to embrace a leadership and coach position to help spark the joy of sports and volleyball in those younger than me,” said senior Chris John.
Over the years, the PAL has become a place for NHP students to be more involved in the community. Whether an athlete or an artist, the PAL has become a place to rely on to hold sports practices or to volunteer time with elementary school students.