Contact: Dan Schneider



Woodstock, NY

August 30, 2016


Woodstock Day School: Fall 2016 Afterschool Journalism Class to be taught by best-selling author and journalist Peter Occhiogrosso

Nectar News, a program of the Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation, will be sponsoring a pilot Fall afterschool class as part of the Woodstock Day School’s Fall Afterschool Programs. The course is entitled “The Art of Journalism” and will be taught by longtime journalist and best-selling author Peter Occhiogrosso. It will begin on Wednesday September 21 and run until November 23. It will be 90 minutes per week, from 3:30 PM until 5 PM each Wednesday (with no class on October 19).

Mr. Occhiogrosso, a long-term resident of Woodstock, is the former music editor and associate editor of the Soho News and managing editor of the Hudson River Museum & Gallery Guide, and has more than 30 years’ experience as a writer and editor. He has authored or coauthored 14 books and has assisted or ghostwritten another 6. His collaborations include books with talk show host Larry King, former rock icon Frank Zappa, spiritual teacher Carolyn Myss, and cabaret singer Michael Feinstein. Three of Peter’s coauthored books have become New York Times Best Sellers.

According to Mr. Occhiogrosso: “The course will include developing a special set of skills needed to write for newspapers or magazines—print, online, or strictly digital. In this class students will discover how to zero in on a promising topic, find a unique “slant” to make it theirs, and then structure a piece of 300 words or more that will capture and hold the reader’s interest. We’ll be writing movie and music reviews, feature articles about food and fashion and environmental issues, and learning how to conduct interviews with significant local figures who are changing the culture. Our goal will be to create stories that feel as lively as if they were being broadcast on television.”

Mr. Occhiogrosso is one of many local Ulster County advisors to the Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to connect people so they can share information and empower each generation to teach the others. Other local advisors include Josh Ruben (co-founder of the Woodstock Comedy Festival); Karl Berger and Ingrid Sertso (co-founders of Creative Music Studio); authors Perdita Finn, Leslie Malin, Mitch Ditkoff, and Sheila Isenberg; visual artists Lucy Swensen, Mary Anne Erickson, Saundi Wilson, Owen Brown, Jen Dragon, Shelli Lipton, Ric Dragon, Leslie Bender, and Jacob Troy; musicians DennisYerry, Ian Turner, Valen Swensen, Studio Stu, Jerry Mitnick, Michael Veitch, and Sequoia Sellinger; filmmakers Cambiz Khosrovi, Sabine Hoffman, Jeremy Ellenbogen, Laurie Osmond, Maggie Levin, Rebecca Zolet, Russell Richardson, Rudi Azank, Robin Richardson, Liz

Zweibel, David McDonald, and Nathan Koenig; dancer/choreographers Bryant “Drew” Andrews, Logan Tracey and Wilhelmina Frankfurt; as well as many educators, business and tech consultants, and health and nutrition specialists, including Aaron Beaudette, Jay Cohen, Randy Angiel, Andre-Jacques DeBeer, Michael Goodman, Matthew Immergut, Alice Andrews, Melissa Gilbert, Chase Randell, Sam Kandel, Vicki Koenig, Marie Schultis, Becky Sellinger, Leslie Malin, Noelle Damon, Erica Bunin, Beth Aldin, Adrienne Patashny, Jim Andretta, Mary Gormley and many others.

The Foundation publishes its own positive news website called Nectar News ( According to Dan Schneider, executive director of the Foundation and former Woodstock resident,

“We have three hopes for this new pilot program:

1) to further our mission of intergenerational mentoring by having Peter pass on his amazing skills as a writer and journalist to the next generation of aspiring writers and journalists in the Ulster County community serviced by the Woodstock Day School;

2) to bring new people to the Woodstock Day School campus to showcase the unique education they offer and to thank them for helping to educate our children; and

3) to develop new young writers who can help cover positive local, national and international news to contribute their POV to our Nectar News website as well as to other worthy publications such as the Woodstock Times, Good Life Magazine, The Chronogram and news outlets and magazines throughout the world. We are so happy to work with WDS Head of School Kara Stern and with Robert Burke Warren, Director of After School Enrichment,, and we thank them for allowing us to work with them in developing this pilot program. It was important to us that the program be open to students in the entire community, such as Onteora, Kingston, Saugerties, and Rondout High Schools, and that it be affordable, only $10 per week per students for the entire 8-week program. Several scholarships are also available for those who need them. We are hoping that if this pilot program works, we can expand it at the WDS and maybe to other locations in the Hudson Valley. We would also be interested in helping to launch other intergenerational mentoring programs in the community using our talented network of local advisors.”

According to Kara Stern, “While modern kids are exposed to more text than any generation in history, the vast majority of it is subjective, steeped in emotion, and lacking in rigorous discipline. Journalistic inquiry is essential to a democracy, and artfully rendering facts and stories without bias or corporate influence has never been more important. We’re thrilled to work with the Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation to offer WDS kids the opportunity to learn the essential techniques of journalism from such an esteemed writer as Peter Occhiogrosso.”


Nectar News ( ): Nectar News is a program of the Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation ( whose mission is to connect people so they can share information and empower each generation to teach the others. In 2016 the Belsky Foundation has organized two benefit

concerts on the West Coast in celebration of former Ulster County resident and multi-talented artist David Bowie. The first was a sold-out concert (with Gary Oldman, Seal, Ewan McGregor, Angelo Moore, and Mike Garson) in Los Angeles at the Roxy, which helped raise money for the Max’s Kansas City project ( Founded by advisor and Woodstock resident Yvonne Sewall, the project helps artists and musicians in need. The second benefit concert was in the Bay Area at the Regency Ballroom and raised money for the TJ Martell Foundation (,

In April 2015, the Beslky Foundation, along with members of the Woodstock community, helped organize a benefit concert for Leith Rogovin, a beloved member of the Woodstock community who had been a teacher at the Woodstock Day School for more than 20 years. The concert helped raise money for Leith’s battle with brain cancer and his hospice care. The Leith Compassion Fund helped cover Leith’s end of life medical and related expenses. The monies not needed by Leith have gone into a “WDS Compassion Fund” for other teachers from the Woodstock Day School who may suffer catastrophic illnesses in the future. The Fund is run by industry’s largest foundation that funds innovative medical research focused on finding the music cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS.

The Woodstock Day School ( Founded in 1973, Woodstock Day School is a progressive independent school set on a beautiful 40-acre campus in New York’s pristine Hudson Valley, between Woodstock and Saugerties.

Woodstock Day School provides a socially and environmentally mindful educational journey from Nursery School through Grade 12, committed to valuing every student as an individual and as a member of the community. Situated on an inspiring campus, Woodstock Day School empowers students to confidently embrace life with knowledge, compassion, and perseverance.