Wheatley Alumni Monthly Newsletter

Number 4:  September 3, 2016

Dear Wheatley Wildcat Community,

Welcome to the fourth issue of The Wheatley School Alumni Association monthly (more or less) newsletter. Thanks to the indefatigable labors of our wonderful Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser, Class of 1963, you can easily access the first three issues from our home page WWW.WHEATLEYALUMNI.ORG. This issue begins with some “hard news” about the school itself and then highlights the lives, and notes the deaths, of some folks who have passed through it.

[But first a word from our sponsor – The Attendnce List for The Wheatley School 60th Anniversary Celebration, October 14-16, 2016, is now well over 400 people and growing. Please register at WWW.WHEATLEYALUMNI.ORG or RSVP (“Y,” “N,” or “M” will do) to ARTENGORON@GMAIL.COM. The next (and possibly final) planning meeting is Monday, September 12, 2016, 6:30 PM, at Wheatley. All are welcome.]


Matt Haig - Teacher

In May of this year The Wheatley School charged long-tenured Social Studies teacher Matthew Haig with “insubordination”; “conduct unbecoming a teacher”; and “neglect of duty.” The East Williston School Board suspended him, pending a hearing. Mr. Haig hired a lawyer, who worked with the Board’s lawyer to hammer out a proposed settlement. On August 26 the Board approved the proposal, which calls for Mr. Haig’s reinstatement, and he will be back to teaching on the first day of school. [Editor’s Note - Seems like a win-win.]


Michael Garin – Class of 1964

Michael Garin is working “to build a sustainable TV and film industry in Abu Dhabi.” His story is at Michael Garin in Dubai.

Shep Messing – Class of 1967

The Golf Channel, while discussing Rickie Fowler, mentioned Shep as having one of the best mustaches of NY sports, along with Walt Frazier, Keith Hernandez, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry and Sparky Lyle. Shep’s Wikipedia entry.

Joanne Horowitz – Class of 1970

[Editor’s Note - This spotlight is by Joanne herself, “as told to Merle Ginzberg,” and as lightly edited (for space) by yours truly.]

New to New York and a job as a secretary at Universal Studios, I went out on a date with a guy named Neil Schlesinger. We went to a club in Queens called the Enchanted Garden, owned by his bosses, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, who were getting ready to open the soon-to-be-famous Studio 54. I told them, "I read Celebrity Bulletin -- if you send me invitations, I'll send them out." In those days, CB listed where the celebrities were staying.

For opening night, April 26, 1977, Cher, Henry Winkler, JFK Jr., and Warren Beatty came by, just from my sending notes with invitations to their hotels. The next morning Cher was on the front page of the New York Post and 54 was the place to be. Soon I went to work for 54, booking most of their private movie premieres, including The Eyes of Laura Mars; The Turning Point; New York, New York; Superman; and The Wiz, with Michael Jackson. He and I became friends, and whenever he was in town, he would come to the club with me. I got paid for each celebrity I booked, on a sliding scale from $30 to $250 (for a superstar). Ian and I always argued about what they were worth! If they got the cover of the Post or Daily News, I made an additional $250. If they appeared in Time or Newsweek, another $250.

I also bartered with a limo company; I referred celebs, and they gave me free access to limos. Most nights around midnight, a limo would pick me up to take me to 54 in my $1,200 Maud Frizon lizard shoes. You could say it was the dawn of celebrity sightings and a whole school of journalism. Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Halston and Andy Warhol all became part of Steve's inner circle.

One night at Café Central I met a young Kevin Spacey (I overheard him doing his Johnny Carson impersonation). We became fast friends, and he came to many of my events.

After Studio 54 I became Publicity VP at United Artists Pictures, doing PR for Alec Baldwin, Chris Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. One day Kevin asked me to be his manager, and here I am today, managing Kevin and Scott Eastwood (he of the famous father). I guess you could say Studio 54 is mostly responsible for my career.

[Editor’s Note - In addition to managing talent, Joanne’s other passion is animals. A tireless advocate and organizer for animal rights, Joanne specifically focuses her efforts on protecting African elephants and rhinos from poaching. The original of the “as told to is at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/studio-54-anniversary-joanne-horowitz-311562.]

Patricia Chock Fleishman – Class of 1972

Tricia recently donated a kidney to her sister-in-law (how wonderful is that?!). The inspiring story is at http://www.jewishexponent.com/organ-music

Winnie Holzman – Class of 1972

As Wikipedia has it, Winnie is “American dramatist, screenwriter and poet.[2] She is known for having created the ABC television series My So-Called Life, which led to a nomination for a scriptwriting Emmy Award in 1995,[3] as well as her work writing for thirtysomething and Once and Again. Holzman has garnered fame for her work on Broadway, most notably for writing the book for the smash stage musical Wicked. The entire Wiki entry is at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnie_Holzman

Daniel Schwartz – Class of 1998

Daniel is the Chief Executive Officer of Burger King. An article in The Hustle states as follows: Daniel Schwartz had a typical suburban upbringing. He grew up on Long Island and attended The Wheatley School, where he played basketball and was an honors student. After high school, Daniel [traveled] four hours upstate to Cornell where he made the dean’s list and, in 2001, graduated with a degree in management and applied economics. A Bloomberg News article is at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-24/burger-king-is-run-by-children


1965 - John Gonda

John passed away in 2015 in Falls Church, VA, where he had lived for some time. A rather tall fellow, when he ran for a student government position at Wheatley, his campaign slogan was “Head and shoulders above the others.” His brother Bob, Class of 1970, survives him.

1965 – John Grondahl

John passed away on November 26, 2014, in Sarasota, FL. He is survived by siblings Gail, 1964; Glen, 1970; Lynn Dee, 1972; and Lora, 1973.

Coach – Mo Schneider

The legendary Mr. Schneider, Wheatley's tennis coach for some three decades, passed away recently. He apparently taught English at Roslyn High School (but we won’t hold that against him) and wrote scripts! His wife, Suzanne, survives him. A “Celebration of Life” event is being planned for Wheatley in September. Wrote one colleague, “What a gift he was to the school district as a whole, and to the thousands of students who were under the tutelage of such an inspiring individual.”

[Other “passings” came in after deadline but will appear in the next issue.]

It’s a wrap. Comments, Corrections, News and Submissions are all welcome.