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Beach Buzz: Friends of North Beach celebrates 20 years of helping the elementary school


Special to The Miami Herald

Friends of North Beach Elementary celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special program for teachers, parents and students on May 20. Held outdoors on the school’s new patio, the event featured musical performances by students (led by longtime music teacher Monique Medyk), as well as dedications of the new Brick Patio, its Peace Pole and a Friends alumni breakfast.

Principal Dr. Alice Quarles welcomed guests, including former NBE principal Aida Marrero and this columnist, a co-founder of Friends of North Beach. Former Friends’ president Becky Cohen (2009-2013) was also honored, as were outgoing board members by current Friends’ president Amy Ruddy Moore.

It was a proud day for me because as one of the original co-founders I was able to celebrate how the organization has evolved over the past 20 years.

What many people don’t know is that when we initially conceived the idea for Friends of North Beach, it was not well received, mostly because it “had never been done before.”

We were concerned about our son transitioning from Temple Beth Sholom pre-K with 15 students, a teacher and an assistant to a kindergarten class (literally across the street) with 30 students and only one teacher.

Believing that public school was the best option, we convinced a group of about 12 families of incoming kindergarten students to join us to form a new non-profit to raise funds for teacher assistants. Our goal was to lower the teacher-to-student ratio and increase parental involvement at the elementary school.

Over the decades, the program expanded to benefit all students in all grade levels. Today, the program is still going strong, having raised millions of dollars and improving public elementary education for tens of thousands of students.

In speaking to the children, I reminded them that when you believe in an idea and work hard to make it happen, positive change is possible. Just follow through, regardless of what others think. I look forward to celebrating future Friends’ milestones.

Engraved patio bricks can be purchased (tax deductible) to support the Friends of North Beach program. Four-by-eight bricks are $100; 12x12 bricks cost $250. To order, contact Rachel Poses at


National Teacher Appreciation week was May 5-9. However, due to extensive AP testing and end-of-year exams, teachers at Miami Beach Senior High were shown the love on May 22, when the school’s PTSA hosted a special luncheon and Spa Day in their honor.

Teachers were invited to sign up for free spa services during their planning period or lunch break. Over 70 teachers chose from a variety of services, donated by local merchants including: hair by Blow Dry Bar, massages by Miami Beach Family and Sports Chiropractic Center and Kogut Chiropractic, manicures by Sean Donaldson, waxing by Uni K Wax and makeup by Bobby Brown.

The spa services were set up in the Teacher’s Lounge, which was spruced up with plant scenery, thanks to Jack and Orit Orsman. The luncheon was provided by Publix, with dessert courtesy of Pinkberry Yogurt.

Co-chairs for the teacher appreciation event were Annette Canon and Hillary Frankel.

“The event was outstanding, an amazing way to thank our teachers. There’s not a dollar amount that one could put on to how good this PTSA event made our teachers feel,” said Beach High principal John Donohue.


Looking for something different to do on Father’s Day this year? How about Brunch and Bocce? Both are available from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bocce Bar, 3252 NE First Ave., the space formerly housed by Sustain in Midtown.

Open since December, Bocce Bar serves rustic Italian cuisine with menu items originally influenced by Chef Timon Balloo of SUGARCANE raw bar grill (same owners). On Saturday nights, the eatery offers 11 pizza pies at 11 p.m. for $11 each.

From 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday nights, local chefs participate in Bocce tournaments (through the end of June). Bocce Ball is a traditional Italian game played with four large balls for each of the two teams; the object is to get one of your balls closest to the target ball, il pallino.

For Father’s Day, the family can play bocce and enjoy a brunch menu featuring endless antipasti, omelets and desserts plus a choice of special main entrée. Cost is $34 per adult; $15 children (12 and under) and $15 for unlimited prosecco.

For reservations (suggested) call 305-786-245-6211 or reserve online at www.Bocce-Bar-com.

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