Sharing Global Cultures

R.C. Murphy Junior High School students in John Strub’s classes shared a piece of their family’s heritage and culture with peers through an alternative learning project.

The students in Mr. Strub’s global history and Advanced Placement world history classes made connections to their personal ethnicity or culture through song, dance or performance art. For example, a quartet of string musicians performed an excerpt from Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” a student played the national anthem from the Republic of Ireland on the tin whistle, a guitarist performed a Russian folk song and two girls did Irish step dancing.

The project is an enrichment opportunity for the classes to understand various regions studied beyond the academic component discussed through the courses.

Dining Around the World

Students and families from across the district came together to celebrate their cultures and heritages during a Dinner Around the World event sponsored by the English as a New Language department. 

All the families whose children are in the ENL program were invited and many brought a traditional dish from their native country. Student work was displayed and a short video of the students in their classes was played for attendees to enjoy. 

“It is a great evening for the families to gather and feel a part of the school community” said Kerri Golini, junior high school foreign language and ENL chairperson.

The dinner was held at R.C. Murphy Junior High School and was supported by the department’s teachers Monica Aston, Erin Brusee, Gail Dawkins, Laurie Raspler and Stacey Russo.

Guidance Review - April 2016


Family Fun

Nearly 250 Minnesauke Elementary School students in grade 3-5 and their families enjoyed an evening of entertainment during this April’s Minnesauke Family Fun Night fundraiser.  

During the event, students participated in a variety of carnival type games for the chance to win prizes in the gymnasium and enjoyed face painting, dancing and snacks in the cafeteria.

Upon arriving at the event, attendees made donations to a worthy cause – more than $1,000 and many nonperishable food items were gifted to benefit local families in need.

Zumba for Autism

Art Displayed at Capitol

Original artwork created by Minnesauke Elementary School fourth-grader Ava Bavlnka was selected for showcase during this year’s Dr. King Children’s Essay and Fine Arts Display in Albany.

Ava’s drawing was of Dr. King embracing the Earth with the saying “Everything that is done in the world, is done by hope.” The piece also included the words “love, hope, peace, loyal, unity, kindness, respectful and stand strong” surrounding the shape of a heart.

Annually, this contest receives more than 4,000 submissions from 240 schools statewide. Entries include student essays, drawings, painting, sculpture and photography based on Dr. King’s six principals of nonviolence. Selected pieces are played on display on the concourse of the Empire State Plaza in Albany for one week prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

According to the state’s website, the event is hosted to encourage students to learn more about Dr. King, his nonviolent philosophy and its application to current issues as well as empower students to pursue change through nonviolent methods.

Smart Schools Preliminary Plan Presentation on May 4, 2016

There will be a Smart Schools Plan presentation at the Board of Education meeting on May 4, 2016 at Central Office. The first planned phase of technology upgrades will be presented.

A Bench for Buddies

Arrowhead Elementary School students have a new way to make friends during recess thanks to alumna Emma Stevens, who created three buddy benches for the school as part of a Girl Scout Silver Award project.

Buddy benches are a growing movement in schools across the nation and are placed around playground areas. The concept aims to promote inclusion and kindness by allowing those looking for a friend to play with a place to sit. Students who see a peer sitting upon these benches are encouraged to invite the individual to join their activity.

“I can recall times from my early elementary years when I would have liked to have a buddy bench to use – I think anyone can,” said Emma. “It feels good to give back to my old school; I have great memories from my time here.”

Emma, a current eighth-grader at R.C. Murphy Junior High School, presented the bright yellow painted benches during three grade-level, ribbon-cutting ceremonies. During the first ceremony, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright declared the occasion Emma Stevens’ Day in the town.  

Shaving to Support the Brave

Fourteen Setauket Elementary School students bravely shed their locks this April during St. Baldrick’s events, charity fundraisers committed to support research for cures for childhood cancer.

During the event, the students volunteered with countless others from across the region to join the fight against childhood cancers by selflessly shaving their heads; an action meant to be symbolic as many cancer sufferers often experience hair loss during treatment.

The annual event, which began in 2000 in Manhattan, is held March through April in locations around the nation. To date, nearly $26.7 million has been raised for the cause in 2016 alone.

The Three Village School District commends the following students for their charitable actions:

George Austin, grade 4
Brandan Buncke, grade 5
Jacob Carioscia, grade 3
Sean Davey, grade 3
Charlie Giachetti, grade 5
Ben Gilday, grade 5
Jacob Henretta, grade 5
Michael Lascarides, grade 4
Zachary Mainhardt, grade 6
Will Marino, grade 5
Evan Prince, grade 4
Lucas Rathburn, grade 5
Jacob Rosenzweig, grade 5
Austin Vero, grade 5

Playing with Literacy

R.C. Murphy Junior High School eighth-grade students in Michael Flanagan’s class shared their love of literacy with peers in a unique way this spring – by creating intricate and interactive board games.

As part of an independent reading project, the students selected a fantasy or science fiction book and created board games based on the story’s plotline. Each game featured key characters from the novels that were challenged to complete a quest or journey. Students created individual playing pieces and cards referencing what happened to the characters in the books.

Peers enjoyed learning about their classmates chosen books by taking turns playing the different board games, which highlighted such stories as “Woven,” “Doomspell” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

Westward Bound

Nassakeag Elementary School fifth-graders in Adele Gibbons’ class traveled back in time to the nation’s early years during a study of the Westward Expansion of the United States.

During the social studies unit, students researched the movement in depth and developed their skills as informational writers. At the end of the project, the class enthusiastically presented their research reports in a writers’ celebration with a “Wild West” theme.

In the Kitchen

Quiz Bowl

R.C. Murphy Junior High School captured second-place during this year’s Brookhaven National Lab’s Regional Middle School Science Bowl.

The team practiced since the fall for the event under the direction of teacher Patrick McManus.

During the contest the students engaged in a round robin event followed by a double elimination final. They faced a series of challenging questions in the categories of chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, astronomy as well as general, earth, and computer science. They narrowly missed first place with a final score of 74-68 against a tough team from Commack.

Building a Sustainable Garden

The importance of water conservation is at the center of a recent project Setauket Elementary School first-graders are working on with the help of STEM teacher Gina Varacchi.   

After a discussion on the importance of harnessing rainwater, the students attended an assembly provided by Cornell Corporative Extension speaker Mark Cappellino. During the program, Mr. Cappellino spoke about animals’ and plants’ need for clean water, how much water is wasted daily and the concept of creating rain gardens. These spaces collect water from storms and individuals use the liquid to feed plants and gardens.

Inspired by the conversation, the students are now working to create their own rain garden in the school’s courtyard. To prepare, they fashioned three-dimensional models using cardstock and straw downspouts. They then tested their models using spray bottles and observed how the water traveled from the roof of the building into the rain catcher.  

This May, the students will plant close to 80 species of plants in the school’s courtyard with the help of Mr. Cappellino, which they will maintain with a new school rain garden.  

Quiz Bowl Champs

Ward Melville High School’s Academic Challenges Club has continued its impressive winning streak and is now headed for the Regional Final Quiz Bowl Tournament this April.

The teams advanced after an impressive victory over Smithtown High School East in a trivia showdown at the Quiz Bowl Competition. The stakes were high for the final match of the regular season and Ward Melville’s teams rose to the occasion.

Competing with one player down, the varsity team members won a stunning victory of 176-29 while the junior varsity members finished their undefeated season with an outstanding final score of 164-62 and remain the top team in their division.

During the finals, they will compete against the top 20 junior varsity and varsity teams from across Long Island to determine the region’s top trivia teams.

Mural of Honor

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School’s National Junior Art Honor Society members once again used their talents to create a stunning group mural for school.

For the seventh year, the students worked together with advisor Michael Sacco to honor an individual who is of outstanding character and has given back to the world at large. This year the group chose legendary film actress and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn. They honored Ms. Hepburn by creating individual artistic pieces that when placed together silhouetted her well-known face.

Gelinas’ NJAHS has 28 members and each had a hand in creating this.

The completed mural is currently being displayed in the art department hallway and will be placed on permanent display within the school over the summer.

Calendar Update/Used Snow Days

To date, the district has used only two of its three designated snow days. As we anticipate that the last snow day will remain unused, please be advised that the planned vacation time surrounding Memorial Day weekend will be extended. School will now be closed on Friday, May 27, in addition to Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. Schools will be in session on Tuesday, May 31.

Published Works

As a result of their outstanding creativity, Ward Melville High School senior Michelle Pacala and R.C. Murphy Junior High School ninth-grader Katie Zhao were awarded grand prize in the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Contest. Michelle was honored in the 10th through 12th-grade category and Katie won for the seventh- through ninth-grade category.

Michelle’s book, “Sal the Sock,” is a whimsical tale about a sock who loses his friends in the laundry. Katie’s book, “Good Night, Judy,” told the story of a little girl whose fear of the dark and noises in her home prevent her from falling asleep at night.

In addition to the two grand prize winners, Ward Melville senior Samantha White and P.J. Gelinas Junior High School eighth-grade student Nicole Freeley received honorable mentions in the contest.

The Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Contest is an annual writing award presented to young authors in the Three Village community for creating outstanding original picture books. The contest aims to develop and showcase young writing and artistic talent in the community.

Next Chapter for Used Books

Ward Melville High School’s Key Club shared their love of literature by once again participating in the Stony Brook University Young Scholars Book Drive.

Throughout the monthlong initiative, the club collected nearly 1,000 gently used books, which ranged in genres and reading levels. The school’s donations will join those collected by other partnering school districts and the ones donated on the university’s campus.

Program organizers will sort all items donated to the cause and books in good condition will be donated locally and abroad.

Creativity Abounds at RCM


Spectacular Sports Night

A sea of green and gold blanketed the gymnasium at Ward Melville High School when Nassakeag Elementary School hosted their second annual Sports Spectacular, which raised $4,500 to support Contractors for Kids.

During the event, members of the school’s staff participated in fun sporting events in a gold versus green format while more than 400 spectators cheered on. Nassakeag sixth-grade teacher Sue Safranek once again organized the night.

It not only aimed to bolster school spirit but also excitement for the district’s upcoming Contractors for Kids 5K walk/run health and wellness fair. This event will take place at Ward Melville High School on Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m.-noon.

Setting a Legal Standard

The Three Village Mock Trial is heading back to the Suffolk County Championship for the second straight year, after defeating a very tough Huntington team in Federal Court on April 6. The district wishes them well, as they work to defend their winning record. The county championship will take place on Wednesday, April 13.

The team is pictured with Judge Joseph Bianco after their most recent victory.

Speller Captures Second

The Board of Education recently honored Setauket Elementary School’s Ryan Himmelsbach for earning second place in the Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee, held at Hofstra University.

This is the second year in a row that Ryan has advanced to compete regionally and was named the winner of his school’s local bee.

National Honor for Poet

R.C. Murphy Junior High School seventh-grader Adeena Shahzadi was named a National Silver Medal winner in the 2016 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest.

Adeena was honored for her poem “I’m Sorry,” which told the story of a remorseful individual reflecting on the tragic loss of a friend.
Adeena was honored earlier this year as a Regional Gold Key winner in the contest.
According to the organization’s website, the contest is the longest running and most prestigious recognition initiative for creative teens and boosts famous alumni such as Stephen King, Sylvia Plath and Andy Warhol. The program receives more than 300,000 entries for adjudication on the regional level annually and only 1,900 receive national recognition.

Varsity Sports – Winter Season Wrap-up


Congratulations to the following 2015-16 Winter All-Long Island Athletes:
Wrestling – Christian Araneo
Fencing- Danny Solomon, Stephen Jackson, Lara Obedin
Girls Basketball- 2nd Team – Taylor Triptree
Track - 2nd team in the 1600m -Mike Reilly

Congratulations to Danny Solomon for being named the Long Island Fencer of the year.

For a list of individual county, league and conference honors, please click here.

Boys Swimming
Overall Team Stats: County/League Runner-up
Individual Accolades:
David He: New York State Championship Qualifier in the 200 individual medley
Ryan Kaplan: New York State Championship Qualifier in the 200 individual medley & 100 backstroke
Luka Zuric: New York State Championship Qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle

Boys Winter Track
Individual Accolades:
Mike Reilly: Suffolk County Champion, New York State Championship Qualifier in the 1,600-meter event

Girls Winter Track

Overall Team Stats:  
Placed third overall in the Suffolk County Championship
Small Group Accolades:  
4x400-meter relay team made up of juniors Hannah Hobbes and Madison Hobbes and sophomores Allyson Gaedje and Samantha Rutt named Suffolk County Champions, broke a 10-year-old county meet record, qualified to run in the Millrose Games and earned second place
4x800-meter relay team made up of sophomores Gaedje Sturgess and Samantha Sturgess, freshman Shannon Ryan and eighth-grader Elizabeth Radke qualified to run in the Millrose Games and earned eighth place

Overall Team Stats:  
Ranked fourth in the league, fifth in Suffolk County
Individual Accolades:
Christian Araneo: Suffolk County, League and New York State Wrestling Champion
Kenny Cracchiola: League Champion
Matt O’Brien: New York State Wrestling Qualifier, Suffolk County and League Champion

Boys Basketball
Overall Team Stats:  
Qualified for playoffs

Girls Basketball
Overall Team Stats:  
League 1 title, the first since 1988
County quarterfinalists

Overall Team Stats:  
Ranked eighth in the nation
Ranked third in Suffolk County
Three Time Regional Champions
Individual Accolades:
Kaitlyn Wilson - All-Island Cheerleading Team
Bella Fallon - Nominee for All-Island Cheerleading Team

Boys Fencing
Overall Team Stats:
League Champions
Long Island Champions
Individual Accolades:
Danny Solomon: Suffolk County Champion
Steve Jackson: Suffolk County Champion

Girls Fencing
Overall Team Stats:
League/County Runner-up
Individual Accolades:
Lara Obedin: Suffolk County Champion

Packages for Patients

Minnesauke Elementary School fourth-graders in Kara Gorski’s class continued their community service efforts this winter by creating care packages for patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Class families donated various toys and gifts to the cause, which were packaged into 25 red sling bags. Each bag was decorated and included a card to the recipients featuring words of encouragement. The hospital’s administration expressed their gratitude to the class for their efforts and for creating care packages for children of all ages.

Diversity Celebration


World cultures and family heritages were on display during Nassakeag Elementary School’s Diversity Night, which was attended by more than 400 community members.

The annual event kicked off in the school’s auditorium with student performers, including talented kindergartners, first-graders and members of the Showtime Choir. On display in the cafeteria and gym were visual exhibits showcasing the diversity that exists within the school community. Volunteers shared food, arts and crafts, and presentations native to Germany, Norway, China, Columbia, Korea, Lithuania, Japan and England, to name a few. Parents and staff volunteered to create and hang displays.

This year’s event was chaired by sixth-grade teacher Judy Larsen. Members of the school’s Justice Club and student council were on hand to assist throughout the night, as were former Nassakeag students.

Case of Pertusis

Please follow this link to view a letter regarding a case of pertussis in Gelinas JH.

Art for a Cure

Ward Melville High School students in Kristen Dietz’s fashion illustration class used their talents to bring awareness to a worthy cause this spring – the fight for a breast cancer cure.

Teaming up with Bodacious Bras for a Cure, the 22 student-artists fashioned beautiful creations using the standard form. They each created a theme for their entry and used various supplies to bring their visions to life.
The project was designed to encourage the support of cancer patients and cancer survivors, as well as showcase stories of inspiration and hope.

Each Bodacious Bra created by the students will be displayed during a reception and auction at the Wang Center at Stony Brook University on April 14 from 6-9 p.m. 

‘Retro’ Fitness

Ward Melville High School students went down memory lane and reminisced about their favorite elementary pastimes during recent retro-inspired physical education classes.  

They were inspired to build teamwork, core strength and stability as they completed challenges using scooters. Activities included scooter speedball and scooter floor hockey.

Sending a Piece of Home


Minnesauke Elementary School students in Daniel Petruzzi's class employed their creative writing skills to brighten the days of a district alumnus serving the country.

Putting pen to paper, the sixth-graders drafted letters to PFC Matthew Kletzel, a Ward Melville Class of 2015 graduate who is currently serving in the Army. The letters expressed the students’ gratitude for PFC Kletzel’s service and extended him well wishes. In addition to writing letters, many students donated items for a care package, and other classes volunteered to write messages of appreciation to the members of PFC Kletzel’s unit.


German Scholars Earn First

Advanced Placement German students at Ward Melville High School took home top honors in this year’s annual German competition, Sprachfest, and placed first in each competition they entered.  

The annual Long Island German Language Festival is hosted for middle and high schoolers and is sponsored by the Long Island chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German. It highlights the study of German in a fun way and creates excitement around, with and through German language and culture.

During the program, the students competed against peers from across Long Island in a series of competitive and noncompetitive events.
Congratulations to the following Ward Melville award winners:
Baking Competition:
First place ¬– Jeffrey Michel, Frankfurter Crown Cake
First place – Frances Clever, Marble Cake
Music – Instrumental:
First place – Thomas Kernan, Victoria LaRocco, Jeffrey Michel and Dana Smith
Poetry Contest:
First place – Frances Clever, Thomas Kernan, Jeffrey Michel and Dana Smith
First place – Frances Clever, Victoria LaRocco, Jeffrey Michel, Dana Smith and Demian Zuric

Superdeutsch – (German story-telling)
First place - Frances Clever, Jeffrey Michel and Demian Zuric

Keys to the Future

Ward Melville High School’s Key Club took second place at this year’s 68th annual Leadership Training Conference. The team earned the top honors in the categories of public relations and T-shirt design.

In addition, team members Alyssa Abesamis, Amanda Pretory, Amy Huang, Donna Yu, Jake Okrent, Michael Selvaggio, Naseem Malik and Sabrina Sloan were named Distinguished Key Clubbers. Natalie D’Onofrio won the award for Distinguished Club Secretary and Alyssa Abesamis won for Outstanding Club Vice President. Natalie was also elected Lieutenant Governor for New York State Key Club District Three during the conference.

Sci-O Teams Head to States


R.C. Murphy and P.J. Gelinas junior high schools’ Science Olympiad teams have extended their longstanding tradition of excellence and once again earned a bid to compete in this year’s New York State Science Olympiad competition.

During the Eastern Long Island Science Olympiad Regional, the three teams representing Gelinas placed first, third and fourth, while Murphy’s three teams came in second, fifth and seventh. Additionally, all six teams earned multiple medals in the contest’s 20 events. With their first- and second-place wins, both schools will now advance to the New York State Science Olympiad Competition, where they will compete against the best teams from 11 different regions throughout New York State.

The students prepared for this year’s competition season with the help of their dedicated coaches, student-mentors from Ward Melville High School, and by taking part in several invitational tournaments. Gelinas placed second after competing against 51 teams at the Rustin Invitational Tournament, held in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and both Gelinas and Murphy competed in the Blue Dragon Invitational, held at Jonas Salk Middle School in Levittown. The schools’ teams dominated the playing field throughout this event and finished the contest by sweeping the top six spots.

Athletes Shine On and Off Field


Each of Ward Melville High School’s winter varsity athletic teams has earned the distinction of being named a Scholar-Athlete Team by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. The award recognizes teams that possess an unweighted composite grade point average of 90 percent or higher and meet state guidelines.

The district congratulates the following teams on earning this honor and their coaches, teachers and parents who support their achievements both on and off the field.

Team GPA Coach
Varsity Girls Winter Track 97.542 Tom Youngs
Varsity Boys Winter Track 96.498 Brian Schoen
Varsity Girls Basketball 95.809 Bruce Haller
Varsity Boys Swimming & Diving 95.637 Chris Gordon
Varsity Cheerleading 95.066 Loren Quitoni
Varsity Wrestling 93.564 Kurt Ferraro
Varsity Boys Basketball 92.261 Alex Piccirillo


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


The comical antics that followed the creation of a magical car unfolded on the stage at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School when student-actors performed the Long Island Premier of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” this March.

The musical, based on the Ian Fleming novel and hit 1968 film, told the tale of an inventor who, unbeknownst to him, restored an old racing car into a flying vehicle capable of many heroic acts. Comedy ensued as devious characters attempt to seize the car for themselves.

This year’s production was directed by teacher Robert DePersio and included a pit orchestra predominately comprised of student-musicians.

The Little Mermaid


Life under the sea unfolded on the stage at R.C. Murphy Junior High School when the Musical Theater Company presented the Disney classic “The Little Mermaid” this March.

The beloved tale of a mermaid destined for life on the shore captivated audiences of all ages and left many singing the show’s iconic songs in their seats. The talented cast rehearsed for months under the direction of teacher Anthony Pollera to ensure that this year’s production was a success.

Science Champions Head to Nationals

Following their success at the regional contest, Ward Melville High School's Science Olympiad team earned a second-place finish at this year’s New York State Finals and a bid to compete at the National Science Olympiad Tournament.

During the state competition, Ward Melville competed against the top 411 teams from across New York. Throughout the fast-paced and rigorous program, the team remained steadfast in their work and dominated in the challenging events set before them. This huge victory would not have been possible without the dedication of the entire team and the strong leadership of team captains Mohit Singh and Coco Wander, as well as their coaches.  

The National Science Olympiad Tournament will take place in May in Wisconsin.

Friday, April 29, 2016   |  District Home