Lessons in Journalism

Lessons in Journalism
Lessons in Journalism 2
R.C. Murphy Junior High School eighth-grade students in Cristina Cereola’s English classes have been learning about the field of journalism as part of a recent narrative writing unit of study.
As part of the curriculum, the students learned about responsible journalism and put their lessons into practice by composing individual newscasts on social issue topics in the community.

In addition to their classroom assignment, they also had the opportunity to speak with a professional in the field.

During an in-class workshop, Grant Parpan, the Executive Editor of the Times Review Media Group located in Mattituck, spoke to the students about journalism as a career and how conveying news to the public has changed over time. He showed the students the difference between news that is printed in a newspaper versus those published through electronic media such as websites and social media.

At the end of the workshop, the students shared their own newscasts with Grant and received feedback on their writings.

Whirlwind of Information

Whirlwind of Information
Arrowhead Elementary School sixth-graders took an up-close look at a natural phenomenon during a recent science project.

Working in small groups, the students studied tornadoes and then used their research to create six-foot-tall paper replicas of the weather event. They listed several important facts on the paper creations, including where Tornado Alley is located, how tornadoes form and what time of year they form most frequently.

The completed projects, which will be on display in the sixth-grade wing until the end of January, were assessed based on the students’ creativity, accuracy, grammatical usage and teamwork.  

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Cheering to Top Honors

Cheering to Top Honors

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School’s seventh- and eighth- grade cheerleading team showcased their talents and skills during the recent Rocky Point Cheerleading Invitational competition.

As a result of their athletic talents, the team earned high praise and placed fourth in the contest. They were awarded a commemorative trophy for their showmanship.

Reading to Remember

Reading to Remember

Ward Melville High School tenth-grade English classes and students enrolled in the Holocaust elective course participated in a daylong event called “All Night in a Day” that focused on Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” an autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.

The students began the day by visually understanding how individuals were transported to concentration camps. They packed into a small square in the front of the auditorium – the same size as the cattle cars that were used – and then one by one took a seat as the individuals they represented perished during the trip.

Throughout the remainder of the morning, the students listened as several teachers and administrators read portions of the book aloud and paused several times to participate in workshops and activities. These included analyzing passages, listening and reacting to music mentioned in the book, viewing an interview with Wiesel and artistically creating reactions to the messages of the written piece. The students also helped to create the word “LOVE” on large poster boards using candles, one for each individual who was named to have lost their lives in the book.

“We hope that by reading this story and discussing the topic through programs such as this that we are giving a voice for those like Elie Wiesel; something we found especially important as he passed away last summer,” said Tammy Catalfamo, Ward Melville English teacher and one of the program’s coordinators. “My goal is that no student will go through our school’s doors without reading this story and understanding the importance of taking a stand for what is right and just.”

To continue to pass Wiesel’s message forward, the students passed out paper candles throughout the school the following day with the goal of inspiring others to be the hope they want to see in the world.

Celebrating Musicians

Celebrating Musicians
During its early January meeting, the Board of Education celebrated 14 Ward Melville High School students who recently performed in the All-State Festival at the New York State School Music Association Winter Conference.

The Board and administration commended all of these students for their outstanding commitment to music and statewide recognition of their talents.

Selection to the festival is based on students’ NYSSMA scores from the previous spring, as well as teacher recommendations.

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Detecting New Reading Strategies

Detecting New Reading Strategies

Arrowhead Elementary School third-graders went undercover this winter as reading detectives and worked to build strong reading fluency skills during a reading and writing unit of study.

The project taught the students how to properly read mysteries, including how to look for clues within the writing and on the book jacket and how to make predictions on suspects as a result of their demonstrated motives and opportunities. Through read-alouds and silent reading, students took notes of clues to help solve the problem and worked to put the pieces of the puzzle together before the detectives in the story did.  

As an added sense of fun, throughout the study and during the day, the teachers created different clues for various classroom activities. The students eagerly worked to solve these clues using the strategies they had learned in the reading and writing unit.

Later in the year, the students will utilize their new skills as they begin to explore fiction books.

Top Spellers

Top Spellers
Top Spellers 2
R.C. Murphy Junior High School seventh- and eighth-graders showcased their linguistic skills this winter when they took part in the school’s annual spelling bee.

After going head to head for 20 challenging rounds, eighth-grader Elizabeth Star captured the schoolwide title by correctly spelling the word “negativism.” She will now compete in the Long Island Spelling Bee, which will be held at Hofstra University on Feb. 5.

This year’s contest runner-up was eighth-grader Grace Li.

Baking Up Treats

Baking Up Treats

R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s Community Connections Club made this year’s holiday season a bright one for local residents by baking cookies for 18 families serviced by the school’s food pantry.

As a result of their dedication, the students rolled up their sleeves and created enough tasty treats for the deserving recipients as well as the support staff in the building.  

Singing in the Season

Singing in the Season

R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s chamber orchestra and chamber choir helped to spread cheer by performing a number of holiday songs for the individuals at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook. The students entertained the residents with their musical talents and left everyone in joyful spirits for the season.

Alumni Day

Alumni Day

More than 50 Ward Melville High School alumni returned to their alma mater this winter to reflect upon their college experiences and share sound advice with students immersed in the college application and decision process.

During the program, the alumni, who are current freshmen through senior year college students, spoke about the fears and excitement they faced during their first semester, how they selected their college and the challenges that they encountered when making the transition from high school to college.

“The greatest benefit from this day was that it allowed our current juniors and seniors to hear firsthand from a host of their peers who have graduated within the past four years,” said Ward Melville guidance counselor and program coordinator Jennifer Sheppard. “Each panel had a different group of students of various years, majors and level of schools. This allowed our current seniors, who coincidentally had just heard their Early Action or Early Decision outcome that week to see the options they have for the future.”

Throughout the day, the alumni addressed a number of common questions such as roommate situations, school size and academic requirements. Alan Munn, who is currently a freshman at Loyola studying finance, noted how he “wanted a big school, but once I sat in on my first class I realized I liked the teacher student ratio a lot.” While addressing the social aspects of college, Jenna Madison, a freshman at Geneseo studying communications, stressed the importance of striking a balance and noted “remember you are there for an education.”

To add to the spirit of the day, the faculty also helped to spread college awareness by wearing their own college sweatshirts with pride.

Teacher Presents at National Conference

Teacher Presents at National Conference
Teacher Presents at National Conference 2
Ward Melville High School and R.C. Murphy Junior High School English teacher Julie Gerver was selected to present during this year’s National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. She was selected for this honor based on a proposal she submitted to the organization, collaborating with several colleagues from surrounding districts.

The presentation was called, "I Store My Knowledge in My Friends: Creating a Community of Advocacy." The presentation focused on the work of a group of early-career teachers and their former college professor who created a “community of advocates” and promoted the importance of freely shared ideas, resources, questions and reflections. This included how to use tools like Voxer and Google Drive to collaborate with colleagues, reflect on practice and advocate for one another.

 “As a new teacher, I was honored to have been chosen, and I had such an incredible experience that I will be submitting another proposal for next year's convention,” said Ms. Gerver.

History Bee Winners

History Bee Winners
More than 30 W.S. Mount Elementary School fifth- and sixth-grade students showcased their academic skills when they took part in the written stage of National History Bee this winter.  

As a result of their performance, nine students advanced to compete in the next level of the competition. Adam Bear, Ben Broothi, Sammi Feil, Adam Marotto, Andrew Monfiletto, Arshan Samad, Brady Reyling, Peter Sloniewsky and William Yao will now take part in the online exam for the chance to advance to the regional finals.

Warm Musical Performances

Warm Musical Performances

W.S. Mount Elementary School’s wind ensemble and chamber orchestra performed a holiday program for the service members at the Stony Brook Veterans Home in December.

The ensembles, comprised of students in fifth and sixth-grade, played a variety of seasonal favorites including “Hanukkah is Here” and the “Ukrainian Bell Carol.” After the performance, the students mingled with the crowd wishing all in attendance a happy holiday season and thanking them for the service.

The Mount wind ensemble is under the direction of music teacher Dan Hayes and the chamber orchestra is led by teacher Theresa Ruggles.

Sex Offender Notification January 2017


Seniors Named Science Scholars

Seniors Named Science Scholars
Ward Melville High School seniors Albert Liu, Kirti Nath, Kavya Tangella and Nestor Tkachenko captured top science accolades this January and were named 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars in recognition of their work on complex science research topics.

Only 300 students were selected from a pool of 1750 as 2017 Scholars; each of who were awarded a $2,000 scholarship and a matching $2,000 donation per student was donated to their school.
From the pool of scholars, 40 student finalists will be selected later this month and invited to Washington, D.C. in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists and compete for awards, including the top award of $250,000.    
The Regeneron Science Talent Search, a program of the Society for Science and the Public, is the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition. It was formally known as the Intel Science Talent Search and, under that name, recognized students at this level as Intel Semifinalists.

“These students are highly deserving of our accolades, as are all of the InSTAR seniors who submitted their research to this prestigious science competition,” said Principal Dr. Alan Baum. “Congratulations to the mentors and teachers of these students as well.”

Albert, whose project was titled “Anomaly Detection in Time Series of Dependent Stochastic Block Model Graphs,” worked under the direction of a mentor at Johns Hopkins University. He is planning to study computer science at Carnegie Mellon University this fall. The other three scholars worked under the tutelage of mentors at Stony Brook University. Kirti, whose project was titled “Assessing the Developmental and Metabolic Toxicity of Neuroactive Pharmaceuticals Using Early Life Stage Zebrafish (Danio rerio),” is planning to study economics and life science at the University of Pennsylvania. Kavya, whose project was titled “Hearing Sounds, and the Illusion of Seeing Longer-Lasting Shapes,” will be attending Johns Hopkins University and is leaning toward studying neuroscience. Nestor, whose project was titled “Can Cars Fly? Eddy Current Levitation as Viable Technology,” is undecided on which college he will attend but is looking to explore the field of engineering physics.

Upon hearing the news, the students were filled with a wide array of emotions. “I was really surprised, very happy and proud when I heard my name announced,” said Albert. “It is really such a blessing to get to do this type of work at such a young age. I am truly grateful for all that helped me to do it,” said Kirti.

Both Nestor and Kavya see their projects as a source of inspiration for the future. “I look forward to using advancing technologies to have this concept become a reality in the future,” said Nestor. “The work that I completed was so rewarding as it exposed me to a field that inspired what I wanted to study in college and what career path I want to take in the future,” said Kavya.

Safety Town

Safety Town1

Minnesauke Elementary School students learned important safety rules and stayed active as they worked to navigate a giant obstacle course on scooters during this year’s Safety Town.

For the event, the entire gym was transformed into a mini-town, complete with road signs and activity stations, such as a fitness center, hockey station and carwash. In addition to learning about the rules of the road, the students were also able to practice using an emergency exit through a large cutout wooden bus.

While on the scooters, the students were required to follow proper driving rules, including obeying stop signs and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Suffolk Zone Winners

Suffolk Zone Winners1
Ward Melville High School seniors Rosalie Paglia and Andrew McKenna have been named 2016 Suffolk Zone Award winners by the Suffolk Chapter of the New York State Association of Health Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

This award is presented to one female and one male high school student who have earned excellent marks in their high school physical education and academic classes, demonstrates positive character traits, is a leader in their physical education classes as well as schoolwide activities and is considered a role model for their peers.

Rosalie and Andrew were honored during the organization’s recent awards dinner, where they were joined by their physical education teachers Ron Muscarella and Shannon Sioss.

Lessons in Coding, STEM

Lessons in Coding, STEM1

Schools throughout the district offered students in every grade level the opportunity to experience the world of coding through a variety of hands-on STEM-based activities in conjunction with the international Hour of Code project.

At R.C. Murphy and P.J. Gelinas Junior high schools, students worked with school library media specialists Betsy Knox and Nicole Connelly on a number of technology-based centers. They experienced distant places using virtual reality goggles, learned to program small robots calls ozobots using paper and colored markers, engineered projects using light-emitting diode lights, explored snap circuits and mastered the art of building objects using duct tape. They also used their collaborative learning skills to complete a “break out challenge,” which called for them to try to decode clues to unlock a box.

Ward Melville High School students learned introductory coding with the help of librarian Dr. April Hatcher using the website code.org. They learned to program various interactive games, manipulating an object on the screen through a series of challenges and create artistic pieces by coding linear moves on the screen. They also learned about the science and engineering behind a variety of simple technologies by taking them apart and troubleshooting solutions to correct their defaults.

Sending Holiday Wishes to Soldiers

Holiday Wishes to Soldiers

In an effort to spread holiday cheer to those serving our country, fifth-graders in Kate Hunter's class at Minnesauke Elementary School participated in the AdoptaPlatoon initiative.

The students created cards and wrote inspiring messages to military personnel who are deployed from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Iraq. The troops will receive these cards attached to a box of candy canes, which the students hope will help to raise morale and put a smile on each service member’s  face.

A Sweet Holiday Village

Setauket Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade math club members constructed a gingerbread village for the residents of the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook.

After discussing such mathematical concepts as perimeter, area and patterns, the students used small candy treats to create the nearly 5-foot-long display. The completed piece, which not only included a house but such things as a skating rink, was delivered to the home before the holiday break and was put on display in the location’s recreation room for all the residents to enjoy.

Throughout the year, the club members meet to play different math games and use hands-on manipulatives to better understand various concepts. Starting in February, the school will expand the club to include kindergarten and first-grade.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Remembering Pearl Harbor1

In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, students throughout the district took time to pause and reflect on the events.
Nassakeag Elementary School sixth-graders in Jon Stecker’s class marked the anniversary through a series of hands-on educational activities. They viewed copies of news footage from the day as well as taped recollections of veterans and compared the material with how the event was portrayed in the 2001 movie. The students also compared the speech delivered by President Franklin Roosevelt following the attacks with the speech delivered by President George Bush after 9/11, noting the similar messages of unity and the need to rebuild. Lastly, after discussing the propaganda posters created during the time, the students created their own Pearl Harbor war posters. While researching images for their posters, they learned more about how a woman’s role had changed after the attacks, the conspiracy theories that surrounded the event and how Hawaii had not yet been named a state.

At R.C. Murphy Junior High School, all eighth-grade students viewed a live streaming from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Hawaii in commemoration of the event.

The National WWII Museum webcast focused on the events of that momentous day and featured on-the-scene reporting with survivors and witnesses of the attack and iconic locations including the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

Three Village Welcomes Dr. Francis Roberts


Winning Reflections

Winning Reflections1
Setauket Elementary School students showcased their creativity by participating in the PTA Reflections program and four students received honors at the local level of judging. 

Kindergartner Caleb Gregory, second-grader Grace Allicino, third-grader Graham Gregory and sixth-grader Sarah Calone will now have their submissions judged on the next level for their inventiveness, imagination and exploration of the arts.

For the contest, students submitted original works in one of six categories based on the theme “What's Your Story?" The pieces could take the form of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography or visual arts.

According to the organization’s website, PTA Reflections is a nationally acclaimed student recognition program to encourage artistic creativity in the classroom and at home.

Holiday Performances

Holiday Performances1

Arrowhead Elementary School’s fifth and sixth grade advanced band, under the direction of Ed Kunkel, along with the P.J. Gelinas Junior High School Vocal Vikings, under the direction of Robert DePersio, performed at the Stony Brook Village tree lighting ceremony. The students performed a number of holiday favorites and helped to brighten the start of the holiday season for the larger community.

Photo credit: Greg Catalano

Musical Takes Center Stage

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Ward Melville High School student-actors and musicians dazzled audiences this December when they took to the stage to perform the Tony Award-winning musical “Sweeney Todd.”

The story told the tale of a famed barber who returned to work above a struggling pie shop under an alias after being wrongly sentenced to life in prison. Working with the baker, Mrs. Lovett, the pair sought vengeance against the corrupt judge that sentenced Todd and end up traveling down a path with deadly consequences.

From the opening number, the cast impressed the packed audiences and kept them entertained until the final curtain call.

Pride-Filled Celebration

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Ward Melville High School students and staff took a break from their regular schedules one day in December to focus on important social, emotional and citizenship-themed discussions in recognition of the school’s annual Patriot Pride Day.

The program commenced with inspirational keynote speaker Bobby Petrocelli, who shared his emotional life story and encouraged each member of the audience to live triumphantly and to not let obstacles define their existence. His charismatic personality and warmth left the students and staff feeling empowered to face their personal challenges head-on and to always remember that they matter.

Throughout the remainder of the day, students took part in educational workshops focused on peace, respect, integrity, dependability and encouragement. Among the motivational activities, they learned about creating an inner balance through mindfulness meditation workshops, created paper hearts for peace and worked collaboratively on a breakout challenge that called for them to solve a series of tasks.

A Visit from A Service Dog

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Minnesauke Elementary School sixth-graders in Patricia Woods’ class learned about the multiple jobs of service dogs when two representatives from the Smithtown-based Guide Dog Foundation visited their class.

The presenters spoke about how the puppies are raised, the type of training they go through to become service dogs and how they can be assigned to assist both visually impaired individuals as well as American veterans. Wanting to help the organization with its mission, the students proudly presented the visitors with a monetary donation as well as homemade dog treats.

Teacher Turned International Speaker

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As part of her recent yearlong research project, R.C. Murphy Junior High School science teacher and New York State Master Teacher Dawn Nachtigall has been selected to speak at an international symposium sponsored by the National Association for Research in Science Teaching in San Antonio, Texas.

Over the past year, Ms. Nachtigall has been part of a National Science Foundation-funded joint research project that is working to develop classroom teachers into teacher leaders. Since 2010, this project has worked with 32 chemistry and physics teachers from high schools in and around Atlanta, Georgia. The participants complete over 100 hours of professional development each year in both classroom practice and leadership development. For her part, Ms. Nachtigall has been collecting and coding data from transcriptions of these professional development experiences in an effort to show that the teachers have truly internalized the techniques being taught and are becoming teacher leaders.  

The NARST is an international organization and one of the premier organizations in the field of science education. During the conference, Ms. Nachtigall will present to researchers and educators from around the world, many of whom are considered to be at the top in their field.

Visiting Veterans

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Wanting to give thanks to those who have served the nation, 40 R.C. Murphy Junior High School student government members recently visited the Northport VA Medical Center.

During the visit, the students were given a tour of the facilities, participated in a presentation with three veterans and greeted more than 100 veterans, including those in the rehab center.

Hosting International Scholars

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Ward Melville High School students recently had a mutually rewarding cultural learning experience when the boys and girls basketball teams hosted 38 high school students from the Hjemly School in Denmark in December.  

During the visit, the international scholars accompanied Ward Melville students throughout their class schedule to learn about the education provided in America.

“It was really interesting to learn about how their school is set up like a college – with larger stretches of instruction,” said Ward Melville senior Kiera Ramaliu. “The student that shadowed me was really surprised with the size of our school and student population, as the Hjemly School only has about 200 students.”

At the end of the day and in the spirit of fun, the students from both schools competed in a basketball tournament. Following each of the three games, the playing teams joined together for a region-inspired dinner. To share the experience with their families, Ward Melville students also played host to the Danish students by opening up their homes for them to stay that evening.

“Through our conversations, I learned how different the game of basketball is in America from the game that is played in Denmark,” said Ward Melville senior Dominic Pryor.

“I thought our lives were going to be so vastly different and was surprised to see that the cultural divide was a lot smaller and that we have many things in common,” added senior Matt Hudzik.

Making Moves

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Minnesauke Elementary School students recently learned about a fun and challenging way to stay active during a fitness program called Kerboomkidz.

During the PTA-sponsored workshop, founder and instructor Kershel Anthony taught the students a high-paced dance routine. The energetic exercise program kept them moving from start to finish and left them excited about a new fitness alternative.

Artists Share Their Stories

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Minnesauke Elementary School students showcased their creative talents during this year’s PTA Reflections program, themed “What is Your Story?”

The students brought their original works to life through media such as photography, visual arts and literature. The projects were judged by a panel and nine Minnesauke students were named local winners. They will advance to the Suffolk County level of the contest and have their entries considered for state-level honors.
The district congratulates the following students and wishes them luck in the remainder of the competition:
Award of Excellence – Jamie Skaggs – Grade 1
Award of Merit – Holden Cone – Grade 1
Award of Excellence – Emily Mills – Grade 4
Visual Arts
Award of Excellence – Olivia Lisa – Kindergarten
Award of Excellence – Ava Bavlnka – Grade 5
Award of Merit – Soraya Masrour – Grade 4
Award of Excellence – Mia Butkevich – Grade 6
Award of Excellence – Alexa Gallery – Grade 6
Award of Merit – Lily Jackett – Grade 6

Perfect Score

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P.J. Gelinas Junior High School ninth-grader William Sun has accomplished something very few upperclassmen do by their senior year – he earned a perfect score on the ACT exam.

William’s score landed him in the top 1 percent of the more than 2.1 million students who took the test. However, this is not the first time he earned top honors on a college preparation exam; he earned a score of 1,500 out of a possible 1,600 on the SAT as an eighth-grader.

“I was excited to receive my high marks. It made all of the hard work I put into preparing for the exam worth it,” said William. “To those getting ready to take the test, I recommend they take many of the practice exams to get used to the style and pacing of the actual test. I believe the preparation leaves you feeling ready to succeed.”

William felt it was important to take the exam early in ninth grade to leave a positive impression on the colleges he hopes to attend. He plans to major in medical science.  

Trained to Save Lives

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In accordance with Three Village’s proactive approach to safety and security, nearly 30 members of the district’s administrative staff recently took part in a Department of Homeland Security program called Stop the Bleed.

Through the national initiative, district representatives worked with Stony Brook Hospital’s Trauma Center and the Setauket Fire District to learn and practice lifesaving techniques and strategies to enhance a victim’s survival. These included how to properly apply tourniquets as well as dress and pack a wound. Throughout the workshop, the presenters stressed the importance of acting quickly during an emergency and how to secure a situation until trained medical responders arrive.

“The district is extremely grateful to have this opportunity to partner with high-quality professionals and learn techniques that would prove to be lifesaving in an emergency,” said Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Pedisich. “Three Village is committed to empowering our staff with this important approach to help ensure the safety and security of our school community.”

The district plans to offer the training to all staff members in the near future.

Science Teacher Fellow Award Winner

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P.J. Gelinas Junior High School science teacher and department chairperson Gary Vorwald has been named a 2016 STANYS Fellow by the Science Teachers Association of New York State.

STANYS Fellows are recognized as outstanding classroom teachers who have notably contributed to science education at both the local and state levels. Their leadership and scholarly endeavors are considered noteworthy and inspirational to their peers as this is the most distinguished and highest honor bestowed upon a science teacher by his or her New York State colleagues.

Mr. Vorwald has taught in the district since 1998 and has been an educator for 30 years. During his time in Three Village, he has taught nearly every science course offered at P.J. Gelinas, and is the school’s current department chairperson and lead coach of its award-winning Science Olympiad team. He most recently led the team to earn a 10th place ranking during the 2016 National Science Olympiad competition. In addition to these accolades, Mr. Vorwald was previously named a New York State Master Teacher.  

Exploring Career Opportunities


R.C. Murphy Junior High School ninth-grade students learned about a wide range of professions during the school’s annual Career Day in November.

The program afforded students the opportunity to speak with professionals in a one-on-one setting. The presenters encompassed a wide range of fields, including engineering, counseling, finance, law enforcement and several medical professions. Technology-integrated careers played a large role in this year’s event, a concept that seemed particularly interesting to students.

“When setting up this year’s fair, we aligned presenters to show the students how their career can be more than just one profession,” explained Ginger Ferraro, Murphy teacher and event coordinator. “For example, the police officers were set up near security professionals and emergency responders to show the transition one can make during the second half of their career.”

As the students are technically in their first year of high school at Murphy, the school’s annual fair aims to spark an interest in the type of career path they might want to pursue so they can properly choose related elective courses in high school.

“I was particularly interested in meeting with the professionals in advertising and learning how they use their creativity to tell a story that entices the reader,” said ninth-grader Joe Cereola.

Author Workshops

P.J. Gelinas seventh-grade students learned about specific literary techniques when published author Kara Taylor conducted a series of in-school writer’s workshops.

In concurrence with the seventh-graders’ current study of realistic fiction writing, the workshop offered a pertinent lesson on the application of symbolism and imagery. Ms. Taylor spoke with the classes about the ways she uses these two approaches in her books and how they can significantly enhance the reader’s experience. The students also participated in a number of hands-on exercises, which helped to strengthen their understanding of a writer’s use of language to create a vivid image for the reader.

Food Drive


Lifesaving Blood Drive at Minnesauke

Minnesauke Elementary School sixth-graders recently helped to put a dent in the national blood shortage by coordinating a blood drive at their school in November.

Prior to the drive, the students spoke with representatives from the New York Blood Center and learned about blood donation. The conversations were connected to the students’ science curriculum and focused on the components of blood, how it circulates in the body and who makes an ideal blood donor.

During the event, the students volunteered as “little doctors,” assisting donors with filling out their paperwork and serving post-donation drinks and snacks.  

As a result of the outpouring of support, Minnesauke collected a total of 36 pints of blood to assist those who may need it in an emergency or for people who require long-term treatment.

Thanksgiving Traditions

As an extension of their social studies curriculum and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, kindergarten students at Arrowhead Elementary School in the Three Village School District recently had the chance to experience the holiday in a hands-on way.

During the grade-level’s annual Thanksgiving Adventure, the students learned about the first Thanksgiving, the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Using their creativity, they made macaroni necklaces, turkey napkin holders, Native American headdresses and Pilgrim hats. They also learned how to tell a story using Native American symbols, pretended to plant corn in small cups and shared stories in a teepee. After arriving at the event on the “Mayflower,” each student took a turn signing a “Friendship Promise.”

The adventure culminated in a Thanksgiving feast for all the classes.  

Mixing up Thanksgiving treats


Minnesauke Elementary School second-graders in Michael Licausi’s class and Brian Harvey’s sixth-grade class recently used their math and culinary skills to create tasty Thanksgiving treats for the residents living at Echo Arms Adult Home in Port Jefferson Station.

With the help of their class moms, the students stirred together batter for homemade pumpkin bread and filled more than 50 bread tins with the mixture. As a result of the class’ effort, the students were able to create enough loaves to ensure that each resident would receive their own tasty care package.

In addition, to further ensure the holiday was a festive one at the facility, the sixth-graders also made large decorative “Happy Thanksgiving” signs and colorful placemats.   

Students Delighted with Dinoman Visit

Nassakeag Elementary School second-grade students learned about the earth in a fun and interactive way when Dinoman, a science series that performs all over the country, recently visited. During the program, the students learned about the age of our planet, how it is divided into eras, how fossils are formed, dinosaur behavior and the newest discoveries in paleontology.

Setting the Table


Minnesauke Elementary School students in Kate Hunter's class celebrated Thanksgiving by making centerpieces for the Echo Arms Adult Home in Port Jefferson Station.

Using their creativity, the students fashioned the colorful pieces using flowers, pictures of themselves on fall foam shapes and handmade decorations. The completed centerpieces were delivered to the facility just in time for the November holiday.  

The fifth-graders in Kristen Bernardo's class also completed a similar project, as they created centerpieces for the Stony Brook Veterans Home.

Lessons on H2O


As an extension of their classroom science curriculum, Nassakeag Elementary School fourth-grade students learned about water conservation and the water cycle during two interactive programs.

During a workshop with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, the students explored what they can do to help local bays and watersheds. They discovered how various kinds of pollution make their way into the bay and ocean and how this affects local marine life. The topics were visually emphasized during a hands-on demonstration that called for the students to work together to build a storm drain system.  

In addition, representatives from the Suffolk County Water Authority spoke with the classes about the water cycle, as well as the source of drinking water on Long Island and the importance of protecting it.

Friday, January 20, 2017   |  District Home