Harboring A Love For Learning

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When it came time for 16-year-old Life Scout Johnny Tretolo to plan his service project for him to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, his choice was an easy one. Last year, Tretolo—who belongs to Boy Scout Troop 45 in Mineola—called the executive offices of Harbor Child Care of New Hyde Park to lend a helping hand.

“I always knew I wanted to do something at Harbor Child Care as a way to give back to my first school and the teacher, Miss Evette, who taught me so much,” said Tretolo who’s a resident of East Williston. “I contacted [the director] Dr. Arnold Goldberg of Harbor Care and we began the planning stages for my project.”

In November of 2017, a new playground was installed at Harbor Child Care, which is located in the Herricks Community Center. However, there was one corner of the playground that looked neglected due to rocks and debris that was strewn around.
“That was the space that I wanted to transform for my project,” said Tretolo.

Tretolo with his former teacher Miss Evette, who are both holding Tretolo’s class photo from 2006

From that point on, Tretolo planned an outdoor classroom where children who attend Harbor Care can learn in a natural setting out in the fresh air. In order to raise the funds for the outdoor classroom, Tretolo started to fundraise.

“The biggest success was the clothing drive in which I collected more than 200 bags of clothing from Scout families, friends, neighbors and the Harbor Child Care families,” explained Tretolo. “With the proceeds from the fundraising and generous donations from family and friends, I was able to purchase two truckloads of top soil, grass seed, more than 40 shrubs and flowers and benches that can accommodate two teachers and a class of 18 students.”

Tretolo was very conscious of the designing of the new outdoor classroom as well.
“I set the benches for the children in [a certain way] so they can sit and face their teacher with their backs to the playground for less of a distraction,” said Tretolo. “I raised enough funds to be able to order benches that matched the playground equipment [too].”

With the outdoor classroom completed, Harbor Child Care held a ribbon cutting ceremony recently to officially open the classroom. In attendance for the ribbon cutting was Tretolo’s former teacher Evette Sandifer and her class.

“It was great to accomplish this project for Harbor and Miss Evette and I am proud of the results,” said Tretolo.

A closer look at the outdoor classroom

“Harbor Child Care truly appreciates the support and friendship of the Herricks School District in support of this endeavor. We wish to also thank Harbor’s board of directors, parents and staff for their unending love and support of child care initiatives throughout the year,” said a spokesperson from Harbor Child Care.

As a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 45, Tretolo has held a position of leadership as a patrol leader and has earned all 21 merit badges required for an Eagle Scout ranking. Since Tretolo has completed his Eagle Scout project and has submitted the required paperwork, he is now waiting for the board of review to see if he has met all the qualifications.
“The most valuable part of Scouting for me has been the friendships and relationships I have formed with my fellow Scouts and leaders,” said Tretolo.

Tretolo, who will be entering his senior year at The Wheatley School this September, has big plans for his future.

“My ambition and dream in life is to pursue a career in the field of science,” explained Tretolo. “Forensics combines all disciplines of science, psychology, and problem solving. Last school year I took SUPA Forensics, a college forensics class through Syracuse University. I earned the 2018 Academic Award for SUPA Forensics in my school.”
This month, he will be attending a two week program in Washington D.C. through The George Washington University on crime scene investigation—something he is greatly looking forward to.

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