Parents of preschool children are invited to complete the following survey.
Please note that this would be a tuition-based program.
Please complete the survey by May 31.
Pre-Kindergarten Parent Survey
Three Village Budget Passes
The Three Village Central School District thanks all members of the community for their participation in this year’s budget vote and trustee election. The district’s 2013-2014 budget passed by a vote of 3198 to 1741. Congratulations to trustees Jonathan Kornreich and Susanne A. Mendelson, who were re-elected to the district’s Board of Education.
A Lasting Memory
Minnesauke Students Create Community Tree
For their artistic end-of-year project, the fifth- and sixth-grade classes at Minnesauke Elementary School have created a beautiful community tree that was recently unveiled in the main hallway of the school. Working with art teacher Christine Becker, the students helped form the artistic sculpture, which was inspired by Gustav Klimt’s “Tree of Life.”
Working as a school community, each student, and many staff members, designed artistic wooden circles that, when put together, formed the leaves of the tree. After the puzzle pieces were decorated, the fifth- and sixth-graders painted the background to the design and parts of the tree while Ms. Becker put the finishing touches on the swirls of the branches. Together, during class time, the students glued all of the pieces in place to create a beautiful rainbow effect.
The finished project, which stands 6 feet tall and 16 feet wide, is not only a beautiful display of the students’ artistic talents, but also a representation of the school’s diversity and unity as a school community.
Support for Soldiers Overseas
Nassakeag Elementary School students, faculty and staff showed their support for American troops serving overseas by collecting hundreds of personal care items, nonperishable food products, supplies and even toys during a schoolwide Boxes for the Soldiers drive. The monthlong effort was coordinated in time for Memorial Day and as part of the Brookhaven Veterans Association at Brookhaven Lab’s Adopt a Platoon Committee. Nassakeag teachers Judy Larsen and Joan Sperry oversaw the project at the school, which drew enough donations to fill 44 large boxes with comfort items. In addition to the donated items, the students also wrote letters to the troops, thanking them for their service. It is expected that the donated supplies will benefit a platoon currently serving in Afghanistan.
STARS on Display at Minnesauke
A sea of gold blanketed Minnesauke Elementary School as a fitting ending to the school’s spirit week. As part of the building’s character education program, Minnesauke adopted the STARS initiative, which recognizes students who have exhibited the positive character traits that form the acronym – Sharing, Trustworthiness, Acceptance, Respect and Service. On the last day of this year’s spirit week, the entire school – teachers, students and support staff – wore their Minnesauke STARS shirts as a symbol of their solidarity and collective mission to create a bully-free school environment.
Sex Offender Notification May 20, 2013
Science Olympiad Teams Rank in Top 10 at National Competition
Congratulations to the P.J. Gelinas Junior High School and Ward Melville High School Science Olympiad Teams for their successful performances at this year's National Science Olympiad Tournament. During this very competitive national tournament, Ward Melville's team placed fifth and was awarded seven event medals. Gelinas' team was ranked eighth and earned four event medals. A total of 60 teams from across the United States competed in the tournament. Please check the district website again soon for complete coverage.
Big Hearts, Tiny Hats
For a service-learning project geared toward helping the surrounding community, the eighth-grade students in Cynthia Carrucciu’s Family and Consumer Science classes at R.C. Murphy Junior High School made knitted hats for the neonatal intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital. During the 10-week class, the students learned how to use round looms to knit and shape small hats for the delicate young patients. To date, the students have created more than 100 hats.
In addition to the community service aspect of the project, the hands-on learning experience brought to life several science lessons discussed in class – in particular, those surrounding birth weight and the importance of regulating a baby’s temperature.
Hatching a Love for Science
After observing and waiting patiently for almost a month, the first-grade students at Minnesauke Elementary School in the Three Village Central School District watched as a special science project they had been caring for hatched and came to life – quite literally. Since mid-April, the five first-grade classes have been handling and nurturing baby chick eggs as part of their study on embryology and the life cycle of an egg to a chicken.
Over the course of the month, the students learned about temperature and humidity in the incubators, the cycle of the chicks’ development, and the different parts of an egg and chick. They also candled the eggs to observe the changes in the growing embryo. As a cross-curricular project, the students kept scientific journals in which they wrote their observations and read both nonfiction and fiction stories about the subject matter. This year’s hatching was highly successful, and many of the class families have agreed to care for the young chicks after the unit is complete.
Juniors Recognized for Superior Writing
Ward Melville High School juniors Adity Sampath and Katelyn Winter have been recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English for their superior writing submissions to the NCTE’s annual Achievement Awards in Writing contest.
For the contest, the students submitted timed writing prose pieces following the theme of a “Personal Mount Rushmore” as well as a sample of their best writing from their writing portfolios. For the timed piece, the students had to select four individuals who have had a profound and inspirational effect on their lives and represent their personal ideals. Adity’s timed piece focused on the role music has in her life and those individuals associated with her musical passion. Katelyn’s piece focused on her family, in particular her mother and three aunts. The students’ completed submissions were judged by a national panel and were found to have demonstrated effective and imaginative use of language to inform and move an audience.
According to its official website, the NCTE’s Achievement Awards in Writing is a school-based writing program established in 1957 to encourage high school students in their writing and to publicly recognize some of the best student writers in the nation.
District Spring Newsletter
Board Passes Resolution Regarding High Stakes Testing
The Board of Education approved the following resolution during its meeting on May 14th.
Superior Rating for HS Wind Ensemble
The talented Ward Melville High School Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Laura Gustavsen, has made a name for themselves along the Eastern Coast, as they recently were awarded first place with a rating of “Superior” during the Festivals of Music competition at the Duxbury Performing Arts Center in Massachusetts. During the competition, the ensemble performed two advanced pieces of band music: "Gandalf," the first movement of Johan DeMaij’s symphony "The Lord of the Rings"; and "A Boy's Dream" by Jay Bocook. Considered to be exceptionally challenging, these pieces are ranked as Level 6 NYSSMA selections and as such are generally only performed at the college level.
Ms. Gustavsen noted of DeMaij’s original band composition: “Although [‘Gandalf’] was written around the original book and not the movie, it is an old standard in the band repertoire that commands much respect, and I thought the students should be exposed to it.” She added of the Bocook piece, “In addition to teaching old standards, I want them to know about new compositions…the second piece we played is a very creative and imaginative work that challenges the students in many ways.”
During the competition, three college band directors, including the legendary Frank Battisti, judged the students’ performances. The judges were quite complimentary towards the students, while also making educationally based critiques along the way. Following their performance, the students were invited to attend a workshop with one of the judges.
Second-Place Writing Award for Ward Melville Sophomore
Ward Melville High School 10th-grader Sarah Martin was named a second-place winner in the Kenneth F. Gambone Writing Contest sponsored by the Long Island Language Arts Council for her winning piece, “Lying Amongst the Flowers We Speak.” English students from all over the island participated in this writing contest, responding to the prompt “A Leader is…” as well as submitting a separate writing piece from their portfolio. Sarah will be honored at a luncheon sponsored by Norman Cohen and Everbind Publishers.
Senior Named 2013 National YoungArts Foundation Merit Winner
Ward Melville High School senior and professionally trained dancer Anna Cradock has been named a 2013 National YoungArts Foundation Merit Winner. The YoungArts Foundation recognizes talented 15-18-year-olds in the visual, literary and performing arts. This year, YoungArts named 685 winners from 46 states, selected from a pool of more than 10,000 applications nationwide. Winners were selected through a multitiered, blind adjudication process and evaluated by celebrated masters in the artistic fields.
As a Merit Winner, Anna was invited to perform at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City. To prepare, Anna took master classes with some of the top ballet performers and was invited to dance two solo pieces during a performance in May.
Anna has studied ballet for nine years with the Seiskaya Ballet of St. James. She will be attending Indiana University of Bloomington in the fall, where she plans to major in ballet and possibly double major in physical therapy.
A Part of Legislative Change
Arrowhead Elementary School sixth-grade students in Christina Maffia’s Pi class learned about the change that can come from being civic-minded when Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn visited their class.
Last school year, after speaking about the subject in detail with Ms. Maffia and watching the informative movie “Gasland,” the students wrote letters to Legislator Hahn about the concept of fracking. Fracking is a drilling technique which involves injecting toxic chemicals, sand and millions of gallons of water under high pressure directly into the ground to release natural gas in shale deposits. At the time, there was talk of bringing the extracted liquid for treatment/disposal on Long Island, a proposal that could have seriously damaged local drinking water.
With the students’ letters in hand, Legislator Hahn urged her fellow elected officials to support a bill that banned fracking fluid from coming to the island. This bill was ultimately passed and the students were excited to have been a part of the environmental cause.
During a recent visit from Legislator Hahn, the students had the chance to review a copy of the bill and were presented with certificates of appreciation by the legislator. Additionally, she spoke about how a bill becomes a law and how important it is for individuals of all ages to become involved in their local government.
Career Day at Nassakeag
For the fourth- through sixth-graders at Nassakeag Elementary School in the Three Village Central School District, the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” became a little easier to answer following their participation in this year’s Career Day. The program, which was coordinated by teacher Judith Larson with assistance from the PTA and staff members, has been offered at the school for the past five years and grows in popularity with each new class.
“I believe today gave the students a sense of what their parents may do for a living, as one of my student stated, ‘Now I get what my dad is talking about.’,” said Ms. Larsen. “It provided them with information on new career options and exposed them what other careers involve. I can honestly say, the students were very surprised and intrigued at what they learned about the various careers presented.”
During the morning, the students had the chance to attend two interactive workshop sessions that featured 21 different types of careers. Visited by professionals who work within the Three Village community and beyond, the students had the chance to learn about the training and education needed for professions such as a chef, acupuncturist/chiropractor, bagel store owner/baker, hair stylist, oral surgeon, and even a filmmaker and radio show personality. Adding a special touch to the event, the school faculty and staff members wore apparel from the college they attended.
Young Literary Wonders
Two young authors in the Three Village Central School District have received acclaim in the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association's 27th Annual Poetry Contest. Out of the approximately 4,000 entries, W.S. Mount Elementary School sixth-grader Maya Pena-Lobel was named second prize winner in Category B – individual poem, grades 5-6, and P.J. Gelinas Junior High School seventh-grader Olivia Schmitt won honorable mention in her respective category.
Maya submitted to the contest of her own volition after learning about it from her brother’s English teacher at Ward Melville High School, Brian McAuliffe. “I really started to enjoy poetry in the fourth grade and since that time have filled many notebooks with my own poems during my free time,” she said. “I’ve been looking for a contest to enter for a while, and when I found out about this one, I was happy that I met all of the criteria for submission. Sometimes poems come to me at the most unexpected times – like only a few days ago during the state math exam – and I write them down as quickly as possible.” Maya’s original poem for the contest, titled “The Journey of a Lifetime,” focused on an imaginary road that she used as a metaphor for life. She wrote about the challenges individuals face in life and the ways in which they can overcome those difficulties.
Olivia has made a name for herself in the literary contest circuit this year, having also won honorable mention in BlueNose Edutainment's Chasing Mavericks writing contest. Olivia’s poem for the Walt Whitman contest, “The Opening,” focused on the bumps along the road of life and how positive opportunities are presented when a new “road” appears.
Both students, along with their families and teachers, have been invited to a celebration in Huntington in early June where they will be presented with their awards and have the chance to hear music from Walt Whitman’s time period, view an exhibit about Walt Whitman and tour the historic house.
The students in R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s ninth-grade fashion and clothing class have put their sewing skills to a worthy cause this year, as they have created more than 60 mini-pillows for patients at the Fortunato Breast Health Center at Mather Hospital. Based on size, the students’ creations assist those recovering from surgery while traveling in the car or when in need of comfort. Working since early this year, the students have dedicated much of their spare class time to the cause.
“We are always looking for ways to connect our projects with a need found in the community,” stated teacher Cynthia Carrucciu, who has coordinated the effort for the past two years. “Last year we created approximately 60 pillows, and I’m proud that we have already surpassed that amount this year. Sewing is skill that the students can use well into their future, and it is my hope that they will continue to find opportunities for philanthropic work even after this project is complete.”
Each of the completed pillows is not only stuffed with love, but also individual notes wishing the recipient a speedy recovery.
Planting a Seed for Learning
As a culmination to their science unit on plants, the first-grade students in Michael Dragotta’s class at Minnesauke Elementary School in the Three Village School District planted donated marigolds in the school’s front yard. As part of the unit, the students studied the different components of a flower and their functions and worked to grow sunflowers and beans.
Mr. Dragotta noted that the end-of-unit planting has become somewhat of a Minnesauke tradition, as his classes have been undertaking this project for the past 12 years. “It is a nice conclusion to our classroom studies and in a very visual way drives home many of the lessons that the students completed,” he said, noting that it also serves as a community service project. “The students are excited to help beautify the school grounds in time for spring, and they feel proud seeing the flowers grow each day.”
The class’s parents provided the flowers and many of the supplies used during the project.
Displays of Creativity
Two- and three-dimensional art and technology pieces created by Three Village Central School District students were once again on display during the district’s Spring into Art and Technology Showcase held at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. This year’s show, which included hundreds of pieces – from crafted chairs to pictures, paintings and sculptures – was a great success and was widely attended by individuals throughout the community.
Cleaning Up and Reducing Waste in Honor of Earth Day
Nassakeag Elementary School students celebrated this year’s Earth Day by participating in a variety of earth-friendly activities.
The sixth-grade students in Robyn Weinstein’s class once again coordinated a Waste-Free Lunch Week, which aimed to reduce the amount of waste created during the school’s lunch times. Leading up to the week, the sixth-graders made announcements and visited classrooms to inform their peers about the initiative and the ways in which they could participate. “We encouraged everyone to use reusable items for their lunch such as Tupperware and real silverware – basically anything that doesn’t end up in the trash can,” said sixth-grader Colleen Loughlin. The school’s PTA also generously donated a $5 Barnes and Noble gift card to each class to help motivate the students to participate and some teachers, like Ms. Weinstein, doubled the gift cards as an added reward. At the end of the week, the cards were distributed to one student per class based on his or her efforts.
On average, the school produces 10 garbage cans full of trash per day that weigh approximately 70 pounds each. As a result of the students’ collective efforts, during the weeklong project, the school only discarded 28 cans, resulting in 1,540 less pounds of trash being produced at Nassakeag.
“It is up to us to control what happens in the future,” said sixth-grader Connor Tweedy. “Because of the environmental actions we take today, our future can either be a good or a bad one.”
The student council, which is advised by Adele Gibbons, also helped to clean up the earth as they coordinated the school’s annual Grounds Cleanup Day. Equipped with protective gloves and trash bags, the students walked the perimeter of the school and removed any waste items left behind.
Two Murphy Students Named Winners in National Writing Competition
R.C. Murphy Junior High School eighth-graders Michelle Sun and Michelle Hu have been named winners in the National Council of Teachers of English 2013 Promising Young Writers Program. Nationally, 211 students were nominated to compete in this year’s competition, 51 of which came from New York State. Out of these submissions, only eight New York students were honored as winners.
As part of the competition, the Three Village eighth-graders each submitted two pieces of writing, which were read by national judges. Papers were judged on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, organization, development and style. Drawing on the theme “Unexpected Connections,” Michelle Sun wrote a story on the life of twins, while Michelle Hu wrote a thought-provoking piece about nuclear war and individuals’ social mistakes. The students’ second compositions were lighter in nature: Michelle Sun wrote a series of vignettes called “Transportation Protection,” while Michelle Hu described her experiences on the school’s Science Olympiad team in a piece called “Changing the Stars.”
Murphy English Department Chairperson Catherine Duffy was very pleased to learn that two of the four students nominated from Murphy were among the eight students recognized statewide as winners. "I speak on behalf of the entire English department when I say we are so proud of Michelle Hu and Michelle Sun being selected for this honor,” she said. “We look forward to reading more of their published writings in the future."
The school’s other two nominees were eighth-graders Craig Deng and Mirette Nunez, who were presented with certificates of participation from the NCTE.
HS Juniors Qualify for National Merit Scholarship Competition
Based on their performance on the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, 38 Ward Melville High School 11th-graders have met the strict requirements to enter the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Competition. This honor means that these students scored in the top three percent in the nation on this exam. The names of those students proceeding in the competition for the National Merit Scholarship Program’s various scholarship opportunities will be announced next fall.
The Three Village Central School District extends its congratulations to the following scholars:
Celebrating World Cultures
W.S. Mount Elementary School students and families traveled to countries such as Germany, Mexico and Thailand as they took part in this year’s “Passport Around the World” event. Upon arrival, each student was issued a “passport,” which they had stamped after visiting the variety of informational booths on display throughout the school.
Gathering in the school’s auditorium, attendees had a chance to watch a creative World Showcase, which included musical performances, displays of martial arts, dances and cultural highlights from some of the countries featured. Throughout the event, attendees also had the chance to sample a variety of foods and complete several crafts based on the particular country’s culture.
FBLA Team Advances to Nationals
After an impressive finish at the Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference in Rochester, N.Y. this April, 15 Ward Melville High School team members have qualified to compete in the National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif. in June.
During the three-day state conference, the team, which is advised by business teachers Alyssa Gold and Carol Vonnes, competed in a variety of business events, each of which focused on a different element of the business world. Ward Melville’s presence at the 2013 SLC was one of their most successful to date, as club members were named state winners in 20 events, including 13 first-place finishes, and earned a total of 36 awards. Congratulations to the following students who were recognized during the state conference:
Stephanie Chen – 1st Place, Intro to Business Communications; 5th Place, Intro to Business
Lauren Dennis – 2nd Place, Global Business
Kyra Durko – 1st Place, Banking and Financial Systems; 2nd Place, FBLA Principles and Procedures; 3rd Place, Intro to Business
Dinko Franceschi – 3rd Place, Emerging Business Issues; 5th Place, Business Procedures
Theo Gibbs – 1st Place, Banking and Financial Systems
Eric Li – 1st Place, Technology Concepts; 2nd Place, Game Design and Programming
Harrison Li – 1st Place, Business Calculations; 4th Place, Entrepreneurship
Michelle Liao – 3rd Place, Spreadsheet Applications; 4th Place, Entrepreneurship
Rachael Mayrose – 1st Place, Marketing; 1st Place, Business Procedures
Ian O’Brien – 2nd Place, Global Business; 3rd Place, Hospitality Management
Ramya Rao – 1st Place, Intro to Parliamentary Procedures; 5th Place, Basic Decision Making
Alexa Rohan – 2nd Place, Global Business
Philippe Tarjan – 4th Place, Entrepreneurship
Eric Wang – 1st Place, Principles and Procedures; 3rd Place, Emerging Business Issues
Megan Wang – 3rd Place, Electronic Career Portfolio
Carly Weber-Levine – 1st Place Banking and Financial Systems, 2nd Place Intro to Parliamentary Procedures
Sandy Yin – 1st Place Marketing, 2nd Place Computer Game Simulation,
William Yoo – 3rd Place Emerging Business Issues
Carolina Zheng – 1st Place Networking Concepts, 1st Place Cyber Security, 2nd Place Game Design and Programming
Sander (Yongqi) Zhu – 3rd Place Intro to Tech Concepts, 5th Place Computer Problem Solving
The following students will be attending the FBLA National Leadership Conference competing in the following subjects in Anaheim, California from June 27-June 30:
Lauren Dennis - Global Business
Michelle Liao - Spreadsheet Applications
Ian O’Brien - Global Business
Alexa Rohan - Global Business
Sandy Yin - Compter Game Simulation
Harrison Li - Business Calculations
Carolina Zheng - Computer Game Simulation
Eric Li - Computer Game Simulation
Theo Gibbs - Banking and Financial Systems
Rachael Mayrose - Business Procedures
Eric Wang - FBLA Principle and Procedures
Ramya Rao - Intro to Parliamentary Procedure
Stephanie Chen - Intro to Business Communications
Carly Weber-Levine - Banking and Financial Systems
Kyra Durko - Banking and Financial Systems
2013 Summer Enrichment Brochure
A Cultural Exchange Sparks Outreach Efforts
If seeing creates a better level of understanding, then Ward Melville High School student-musicians from the school’s Camerata, concert choir and women’s choral ensemble certainly have fostered a deeper appreciation for the way of life of the Maasai tribe of Kenya. For the second year, Ward Melville High School students have had the chance to learn about this tribe through a cultural exchange assembly with Chief Joseph Ole Tipanko, a teacher and ambassador to the United Nations, and fellow tribesman John.
During their visit, the representatives spoke about their united effort to raise funds to build schools as well as better the lives and the quality of life in this tribe. The members’ presentation focused on the Maasai’s culture, lifestyles and practice of peace among its people. Additionally, they spoke about the tribe’s history, community values, religious beliefs, leadership and political infrastructure and policy. The students had the chance to view traditional garb from the tribe, purchase jewelry pieces in support of the group’s effort and learn a traditional Maasai song.
“Today’s program was a symbol of how music unites us globally,” said teacher Linda Contino. “The students were able to learn about this culture firsthand from the individuals who are so directly connected to it, and it provided an outlet to increase our community’s awareness of the struggles that these individuals face on a daily basis.”
In an effort to assist the representatives with their mission, the school collected more than $400 and close to 30 pairs of gently used adults’ and children’s shoes. As education for young girls is a rarity in the region, the students’ monetary donation will provide the funds for three Maasai girls to attend boarding school and aid in the protection of their human rights.
Junior Thomas Brown, who has a personal connection to a similar fundraising effort in another Long Island school district, spearheaded the project. This is the second year the school has participated in the initiative and the second year it has been able to sponsor three girls’ boarding school expenses.
Celebrating Earth Day with Artistic Projects
In an effort to reduce their carbon footprints and create a greener tomorrow, students and staff members throughout the Three Village Central School District marked this year’s Earth Day with a variety of environmentally conscious activities.
At Nassakeag Elementary School, the sixth-grade art club worked with teacher Erica Cacciatore on group art pieces. Using acrylic paint and large canvases, the close-to-40 students researched the topic of Earth Day and then created drawings to visually depict what the day means to them. The completed pieces were put on display just prior to Earth Day for all to enjoy and as a reminder to be earth-friendly.
Setauket Elementary School’s first-grade classes transformed trash into treasure as they fashioned useful items out of commonly discarded household products. From juice and milk cartons to water bottle caps and cardboard, the students created both practical and imaginative pieces. Tying into their literacy lessons, the classes wrote a descriptive overview of their project and, with the help of their teachers, read poems and sang songs about Earth Day and recycling.
“As part of our science unit, we talk about the importance of recycling and how certain items such as plastic don’t break down,” explained teacher Eileen Biamonte. The students’ projects were put on display on Earth Day, and each class had a chance to rotate through the classrooms’ “Earth Day museums.”
Patriots Sign on Dotted Line
Nine Ward Melville Seniors Commit to College Athletic Programs
The athletic season for nine Ward Melville High School seniors will continue next fall, as these students have committed to compete on the athletic teams at some of the nation’s top Division I, II and III colleges and universities. As is customary, Division I and II students marked this commitment by signing National Letters of Intent with their chosen institutions of higher education.
“This is no small accomplishment – it is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication to not only your academics, but also your chosen sport,” stated Erin Blaney, the district’s executive director of health, physical education, recreation and athletics. “I am confident that you will go on to represent both Ward Melville and your new school well in the future.”
The Three Village Central School District extends its congratulations to the following student-athletes and wishes them well next year:
Division I & II
Alexa Antipas – Ohio State University, Fencing
Sara Buckley – Manhattan College, Swimming
Matthew Corrie – Pace University, Football
Alex Fitzgerald – Lehigh University, Track
Colleen Lampe – Marist College, Swimming
Alexa Rohan – Stanford University, Fencing
Courtney Cleary – SUNY Geneseo, Volleyball
Harley Kaiserman – Roger Williams University, Tennis
Kevin Doherty – Endicott College, Lacrosse
Two Three Village Science Olympiad Teams Qualify to Compete Nationally
Gelinas & Ward Melville Teams Rank First at State Competition; Murphy Ranks Third
Extending their long and well-earned reputation for scientific excellence, Science Olympiad teams from all three secondary schools once again dominated during this year’s competition season. Earlier this year, Ward Melville High School’s and P.J. Gelinas Junior High School’s varsity teams were ranked first during their regional competitions and R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s team ranked second, earning all three teams the chance to compete at the New York State Science Olympiad Competition in Syracuse this April.
Surrounded by hundreds of the state’s top science-minded students, Three Village students once again demonstrated their scientific prowess and maintained their reputation for achieving excellence. At the state competition, both Ward Melville’s and Gelinas’ teams placed first and R.C. Murphy’s team came in third. As first-place finishers, Ward Melville and Gelinas have qualified to compete at the national tournament in Ohio this May. This year, 51 teams from across New York competed in Ward Melville’s Division C and 35 in Gelinas’ and Murphy’s Division B. During the competition, these top-ranking state teams competed in 25 diverse events, including anatomy, crime busters, mousetrap vehicle, helicopter, and rocks and minerals. Medals were awarded to the top six teams in each event.
In the past three years, Ward Melville’s team has been ranked second in the state contest and 14th (2010), 18th (2011) and 16th (2012) in the National Science Olympiad Competition. Gelinas’ team has been ranked state champions four times and qualified for the national competition in 2003 as well as each year from 2005-2012. Murphy has advanced to the state competition for the last seven years and has ranked among the top three teams at states for the last five years.
The Science Olympiad competition engages students in a variety of events covering higher-level science topics and ranks their performance on a decreasing scale, making lower combined totals more desirable. Topics often span such subjects as physics, chemistry, earth science, biology and technology.
A ‘Sunny’ Day for a Stranded Seal
With the help of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation’s Adoption Program, Setauket Elementary School kindergartners had the chance to enhance their studies on mammals when they adopted a local seal in need. Stranded on the beach of Fire Island’s Cherry Grove, the young seal was rescued by local residents and transported to the Riverhead recovery center for rehabilitation.
“As part of the kindergarten curriculum, the students learn about mammals, animal habitats and various degrees of animal adaptations, and this grade-level project provided them with a tangible way to understand those concepts,” explained kindergarten teacher Kim Shaughnessy, who with her family has been adopting seals from the foundation since 2008.
Since the adoption of their seal, which the students voted to call “Sunny,” the classes have been completing multidisciplinary projects about the species. For example, using a stuffed seal, one class went on weekend adventures with their stuffed Sunny and journaled about their travels in a class workbook. To further understand why blubber is important to mammals, several teachers created a simulation station that students could visit during science class to experience how a glove covered in “blubber” protects their hands from feeling the coldness of ice water. Tapping into the school’s technology, the students were able to observe Sunny in her new habitat through video cameras set up in her recovery area.
To express the foundation’s appreciation for the kindergartners’ efforts, educational volunteer Steven Abbondondelo recently visited each class to present the students with Sunny’s adoption certificate and bookmarks created by the foundation’s workers. During the visit, the classes read aloud a fictional story about a seal in a situation similar to Sunny’s, had the chance to ask questions about their “class pet” and presented Mr. Abbondondelo with several boxes of supplies they had collected for the foundation’s hospital.
The students were happy to learn that Sunny is expected to be released back into the Long Island Sound in neighboring Port Jefferson at the end of April – a release that they will have the chance to attend with their families. The students will be able to continue to learn about their adopted seal, as she will be released with a tracking device attached to her skin.
Primary funding for this project came from a Three Village Educational Foundation mini-grant.
Lessons in Chemistry
As part of a partnership between the Three Village School District and Stony Brook University, sixth-graders and IG program fifth-graders at W.S. Mount Elementary School had the chance to get an up-close look at complex chemistry concepts when they received a visit from Stony Brook chemistry majors.
Working in small groups, the elementary schoolers rotated through a series of demonstration stations that focused on topics such as polymers, reactions with catalysts, and luminescence and density. They received a brief overview of the topic at each station and were able to witness an experiment that visually depicted the sophisticated subject matter. For example, the students helped create a long chain of polymers using a blue substance and watched as the polymer connection found in a Styrofoam cup was broken. They learned about different levels of density when liquids with different properties were poured gently into a common container and remained separated to create a density column. With only warm water being used, they observed the solid-to-liquid transformation of gallium, a metal that melts at a relatively low temperature point. They saw a catalyst reaction occur when Mentos candy was combined with soda, and got a firsthand look at how hydrogen peroxide decomposes when exposed to yeast. By studying water lock technology – in particular sodium polyacrylate – the students even learned the answer to a question many parents have: why a baby’s diaper will not work properly when submerged in the ocean.
“Having the Stony Brook University chemistry students conduct experiments with Mount elementary students was an invaluable opportunity,” stated principal Dr. Nathalie Lilavois. “Our students were highly engaged and really asked critical questions. The Stony Brook students were great at having our students think about the experiments and try to answer their own questions. We hope to continue building this strong partnership with the university.”
The college students visited Mount as part of their American Chemical Society Chapter’s community outreach program, sponsored by an innovative activities grant. Prior to their visit, they had designed the demonstrations with the goal of appealing to their younger peers’ interests.
Speaking to the benefits of understanding chemistry concepts, a main drive of their initiative, senior and lead representative Christopher Rooney noted, “Once you understand the basics, chemistry is really a matter of puzzle-solving. We are always looking to find out what will happen and why something occurred. That type of skill is one that students can apply to a variety of areas.”
An Award-Winning Yearbook
Out of 5,503 entries from around the nation, the 2012 Ward Melville High School Invictus Yearbook was honored with seven Gold Circle Awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. This is the most Invictus has earned in one year in the annual competition for individual achievement by student writers, editors, designers and photographers. With seven, Invictus earned the most Gold Circles out of any yearbook in all of New York State. The district extends its deep congratulations to yearbook adviser Cortney Weisman and the entire yearbook staff on this outstanding achievement. The winning pieces included:
1st Place: Single Advertisement Design: Ryan Dorfman, “Tropical Smoothie”
2nd Place: Academic Yearbook Spread: Alexandra Fedurina, “On the Chopping Block”
3rd Place: Organizations Spread: Anna Brogan and Leigha Jarett, “Marching with Pride” (photography by Trevor Munch)
Honorable Mention: Academic Yearbook Spread: Francessca Benedetto and Leigha Jarett, “Under the Hood” (photography by Trevor Munch)
Honorable Mention: Sports Reporting: Stephanie Shay, “Home Improvement”
Honorable Mention: Single Info Graphic: Danielle Brando and Gabi Cossens, “Fantasy Football”
Honorable Mention: Sports Yearbook Spread: Taylor Mussenden, “A Year in Review”
Top Awards for Student Pianists
Several Three Village Central School District student-musicians have been named winners in the Eighth Annual Suffolk Piano Teachers Foundation Competition. In the elementary division, Minnesauke Elementary School second-grader Austin Choi was named the first-place winner for his performance of Melody Bober’s “March Macabre,” while Nassakeag Elementary School fifth-grader Alicia Heintzelman earned second place for another Bober piece, “Galloping Stallion.” W.S. Mount Elementary School fourth-grader Sofia Stacchiola won second place in the early intermediate division for her performance of “Doll’s Dream” by Theodore Oesten, and sixth-grader Katie Zhao was named second-place winner in the early advanced division for her performance of Notturno Op. 54, No. 4 by Edvard Grieg.
These awards reflect not only the effort and talent of the students, but also the support of music education that the parents, school and community provide. As a first-place winner, Austin will also receive a scholarship and perform the winning piece at one of two honors recitals held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center this June.
76 Trombones Lead the Way
The antics of conman Harold Hill’s visit to River City, Iowa was the storyline behind this year’s school musical at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School in the Three Village School District. During a three-day run of “The Music Man,” students transported audiences of all ages back in time to the summer of 1912 to watch the hilarity that ensued when Mr. Hill tried to scam the townsfolk of their money by promising to teach their musically disinclined children to play musical instruments. Laughing and humming along to some of the familiar tunes, such as “Seventy-six Trombones,” audiences were not only entertained by the Broadway hit but also captivated by the talented performers and predominantly student-comprised pit orchestra.
The students, with direction from teacher Melissa Anderson, worked diligently since the winter to ensure that the performances were executed successfully. The level of dedication to their performances was evident and left the audiences looking forward to next year’s show.
An Immortal Legacy Sparks Insightful Conversations
Through a collaborative partnership between the Three Village Central School District and Stony Brook University, 60 Ward Melville High School students joined more than 200 peers from several diverse Long Island high schools for a daylong conference founded in literacy and rich in educational benefits. The Living Book Project was an interdisciplinary experience that brought high school students together to learn, share ideas and collectively reflect on Rebecca Skloot’s New York Times bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
Ms. Lacks’ story began more than 60 years ago when her cancer cells were harvested without her knowledge; these cells, now known as HeLa cells, have become one of the most important tools in modern medicine, vital for genome research, progress in the field of in vitro fertilization, cloning and vaccine development. The book challenged readers to broaden their thinking on subjects such as bioethics, literacy, history, sociology, race and social class in America, cultural diversity, ethics and patients’ rights. Each attendee was provided with a copy of the book prior to the event and asked to complete it by the date of the program.
Elizabeth Kelso, event organizer and English teacher at Ward Melville High School, conceived the idea of the Living Book Project after learning of a similar program at a school in which all students were involved in a daylong experience centered on a shared story. “I wanted to broaden students’ reading experiences beyond the classroom,” she stated. “This meant not only hearing others’ stories but also following the trajectories that those stories offer us as readers. Today students can look at the cells they read about. They can talk to a physician about access to health care and hear firsthand how economics, race and literacy shape those experiences.” Speaking to the multidisciplinary aspects of the day, she noted, “Today we have Jennifer Trettner’s Ward Melville High School art students who read the book and painted illustrations of Lacks’ story. We have Mark Portugal’s music students who performed the songs of her day. We have students talking about health literacy, medical privacy and journalistic research, among many other vibrant topics this story evokes. Today this book has become multisensory and lives in three dimensions.”
The event commenced with a reader’s theater performance on the book, written by Lauren Kaushansky, another event organizer. Ms. Kaushansky’s rendering of the story offered students a way to revisit the issues and people they first encountered in the book. Throughout the day, students were encouraged to meet and interact with students from different districts. An icebreaker was followed by a series of workshops in which students considered issues centered on science and medicine, patient and family rights and writers and stories. By the end of the day, students came together to reflect on their experiences. Their reflections culminated with a student-led performance, followed by an audiovisual presentation created throughout the day by Kaleidoscope students and guided by teacher and club adviser Jessica DiIorio.
"It was interesting to hear everyone's different take on the same book,” commented Ward Melville senior Frankie Gattuso. “Since some students read it as part of a class, it was evident how that particular class affected the way they read it and their point of view.” The program met new Common Core goals in an innovative way. Ward Melville students found themselves considering science in the art course, narrative in the biology course and ethics in the English classroom.
Over 50 Stony Brook University students also played an important role throughout the day. The Women in Science and Engineering Program, directed by event organizer Carrie-Ann Miller, committed a semester internship to supporting the program. WISE students ran workshops and facilitated student groups, and a few even took to the stage. Pre-service English teachers enrolled in Stony Brook University’s Professional Education Program and their professors Ken Linblom and Patty Dunn also supported the program by volunteering throughout the day.
In addition to Ward Melville students and faculty, student outreach programs including HOPE: Health Occupation Partnerships for Excellence; HCOP: Health Careers Opportunity Program; WISE: Women in Science Education; RISE: Reinforcing & Improving Student Experiences Mentorship Program; and SNMA: Student National Medical Association, as well as students from Amityville, Brentwood, Central Islip, Longwood, Riverhead, William Floyd and Wyandanch, took part in the event.
Emphasizing the global benefits of such a program, event organizer Dr. Aldustus Jordan stated, “Research points to the fact that when alternatively thinking individuals are brought together for a common purpose, their disparities – social, economic, racial – fall to the side and they are then are able to communicate on an equal level. Today’s event focused on doing just that – dedicating these students’ collective energy toward discussing themes that are often difficult in most settings.” Building upon Dr. Jordan’s statements, fellow event organizer and Three Village Board of Education trustee Susanne Mendelson added, “It was our goal to give students in Suffolk County the chance to look through the college lens and embrace their diversities, and to step out from their comfort zones, all with the goal of having an educationally enriching experience.”
Primary funding for the Living Book Project was provided by the Presidential Diversity mini-grant SEED: Students Empowered by Embracing Diversity, obtained by Dr. Jordan and Ms. Mendelson. The SEED grant aims to create opportunities for students to engage with peers from public schools throughout Suffolk County and with Stony Brook University teachers and faculty. The primary aim of SEED is to provide students from underrepresented minority school districts and high-performing school districts with opportunities to explore their diversity while working toward a common and purposeful goal.
There were no direct costs to the participating school districts or the individual students. Transportation to and from the event, books, supplies, a continental breakfast and lunch, along with any other amenities, were provided and paid for through the SEED grant and the generous contributions of the community and university partners.
Teacher Becomes Published Author
Article Focuses on Social Media Use in the Classroom
An innovative teaching practice implemented in the ninth-grade studio art class at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School is the focal point for an article created by teacher Mike Sacco and printed in the April edition of School Arts Magazine, an educational publication read worldwide. The piece, “Social Media and the Visual Journal,” focuses on Mr. Sacco’s use of social media in the one-semester art course as a vehicle to promote students’ artistic experimentation and creativity.
The article provides readers with a clear understanding of Mr. Sacco’s unique and inventive use of technology as a teaching tool in the classroom. Speaking to the Visual Journal Project that he does with his class, Mr. Sacco discusses how he implements a Studio Art Blog on which students are able to view and identify design goals addressed by different artists. Within the article, Mr. Sacco also focuses on the implementation of Voice Thread, an online assessment and critique tool where students use recordings, video and the written word to discuss the work of their peers. Graphically supporting Mr. Sacco’s article are class projects completed by former Gelinas students Emily Haliotis and Olivia Nelson, who are now in 10th grade at Ward Melville High School.
Addressing the value of implementing such technologies, Mr. Sacco stated, “I think it’s important for us as teachers to get into our students’ heads and see the world as they see it.” Instead of lamenting the time students spending on their various devices, we can use technology as teaching tools to enhance traditional pedagogical processes.”
To see a copy of Mr. Sacco’s article, please visit the link: http://www.schoolartsdigital.com/schoolarts/201304/?pg=28&pm=2&u1=friend
An Outlet for Science Exploration
From topics focused on social sciences to those surrounding concepts such as gravity, the formation of crystals and even the groundwater quality on Long Island, R.C. Murphy Junior High School seventh- through ninth-grade science research class students showcased their vast knowledge during this year’s first ever Science Awareness Day. Working in teams or on individual projects since early February, close to 100 entrants completed nearly 70 projects based on topics of interest to them. Before panels of judges from the science education programs at Stony Brook University and St. Joseph’s College, and school teachers, the students presented data based on their research or experiment-based projects and received immediate feedback.
“These students are already very inclined to learn about science so it seemed only fitting that we provide them with an outlet to conduct original research,” said Dawn Nachtigall, a science teacher and program coordinator at R.C. Murphy. “It is our hope that today’s event will germinate a seed of knowledge and interest that will bloom in the future, especially as they enter high school and can continue in the district’s research program.”
In addition to the in-school presentations that the students made before the panel, they had the chance to share their research with friends and family members during an evening Science Awareness event.
Athletes Extend Helping Hands
Ward Melville High School’s student-athletes bring pride to their community not only through their athletic achievements on the court but also their philanthropic undertakings in the community.
Most recently, the Peer Athletic Council Team, a course that meets throughout the year on alternating days with physical education under the direction of Shannon Watson, collected more than 50 shopping bags of personal care items for the St. James Food Pantry. In addition to the drive, PACT members created more than 20 blankets for soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Physical education students from throughout Ward Melville came together to take part in the annual handball tournament. Under the direction of teaching assistants, more than 10 teams participated in this year’s event, which raised more than $200 for student health and physical education senior scholarships.
Packed Audience at Poetry Jam
P.J. Gelinas Junior High School’s fifth annual poetry jam was an overwhelming success, with more than 200 students, parents and staff members in attendance, as well as 35 seventh- through ninth-grade student performers and several staff participants. During the event, which was hosted by the English department with assistance from the home and careers and music departments, seventh-graders and emcees Veronica Buhler, Liv Halvorsen and Naila Masom kept the crowd engaged as the talented poets recited original and familiar pieces. In addition to enjoying warm refreshments prepared by the Home and Careers Club, the attendees also were treated to intermittent musical performances by the school’s jazz musicians.
Some program highlights included ninth-graders Sage Beasley, Megan Patton and Emily Winston performing Shakespeare’s sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” while dressed in authentic clothing from the time period, as well as performing Elizabethan music on the flute; ninth-grader Jeffrey Michel’s 3-D virtual tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which he created and projected onto a large screen for the audience; and enthusiastic readings by English teachers Joanna Cadolino, Doug Elliot, Jackie Shaw and Christina Wesnofske.
While admittance to the event was free, attendees had the chance to help collect funds for Save-A-Pet in Port Jefferson by purchasing homemade dog biscuits. More than $168 was raised as part of the effort.
Connecting to Field of Architecture
As a part of a multidisciplinary study, third-grade students at Minnesauke Elementary School learned a great deal about college and career readiness when architect Mr. Jesperson visited their classes in the library. Prior to his visit, librarian Nicole Connelly and classroom teacher Ken Hall collaborated to design a lesson that linked informational text about various types of homes throughout the world to the natural resources students learned about in class. Students made observations about images of homes including chalets, Venetian homes, white houses and cave dwellings. They then read about the homes, using excerpts from one of the new e-books in Destiny, the school’s online library system, and made connections between the natural environment and materials used to build the homes.
During his visit, Mr. Jesperson spoke with the third-graders in Mr. Hall’s and Todd Arnesen’s class about the skills and education required to become an architect as well as the various educational paths architects take. Mr. Jesperson discussed how architects require skills in both the arts and sciences, points he reinforced when he shared several architectural drawings with students. One of the plans students had the opportunity to explore was for a 14,000–square-foot home in Wainscott, N.Y. Another artifact Mr. Jesperson shared was the architectural plan for a large garage, for which he had painted a background for the homeowner to “see” the finished product. Students were fascinated to learn that painting was such an integral part of a profession that requires such advanced math and engineering skills.
Getting a Voice During Annual Town Hall
Working to fulfill their motto “Murphy, A Place Where ALL Kids Belong,” R.C. Murphy Junior High School students, staff and faculty came together to celebrate their collective unique qualities during this year’s Town Hall event. The annual program provides an opportunity for the entire school community to come together to strengthen the fabric of their school culture in order to foster a deeper level of acceptance and understanding.
Keeping with their character education program “Get a Voice,” and in tandem with the district’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports initiative and the state-mandated Dignity for All Students Act, this year’s event focused on ways to identify the differences between being a bully and being mean, as well as the many different outlets for these actions to take place. Special guest and former “American Idol” contestant Leah Laurenti performed the program’s “Get a Voice” theme song before several staff and students took to the microphone to share poems and skits surrounding the program’s theme.
“We hope that each of the students here today leaves with a clear understanding of what it means to have pride and to be an upstander – two very important parts of our school’s anti-bullying program,” stated Debbi Rakowsky, school social worker and PBIS committee member. “Through the skits and personal stories shared, we also hope that they walk away inspired to continue to create unity in the building and promote tolerance and acceptance for all.”
Students Make Donation to Local Heritage Center
As a result of two fundraising initiatives, the student government at R.C. Murphy Junior High School in the Three Village Central School District collected $1,500 to be donated to a charity of their choice. After collectively deciding to apply the donation to a local organization, the students quickly opted for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, as they were aware of the organization’s need to refurbish the Marine Conservation Center as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Just before the school’s spring break, Gloria Rocchio, president of Ward Melville Heritage, visited with the students and graciously accepted their donation along with a matching donation by Peter Pitsiokos, chief operating officer of Gyrodyne.
In addition to learning about the students’ philanthropic efforts, the guests took the opportunity to discuss the history of the conservation center, its purpose and its namesake, as well as the role that Robert C. Murphy played in convincing Ward Melville to acquire the property that the center sits on.
A Rational Celebration of an Irrational Number
In celebration of the widely recognized Pi Day, Three Village Central School District students marked the school day with math-themed activities.
Advanced Placement Statistics and BC Calculus students at Ward Melville High School participated in an experiment designed to estimate the value of Pi by conducting a simulation known as Buffon’s Needle Problem. The original question, posed by Comte de Buffon in the 18th century, tried to determine the probability of a needle, when dropped, crossing two parallel strips of wood making up a floor. The problem was modified so that the AP Statistics students could conduct the simulation and use their data to produce a confidence interval to estimate the probability of a toothpick (needle) crossing a line. The BC Calculus students worked to discover a formula that related Pi to the probability of a toothpick crossing a line. Together, students were able to come up with intervals that estimated the value of Pi.
W.S. Mount Elementary School’s fifth-grade enrichment class (coincidentally called Pi) celebrated the irrational number sequence through a series of activities. The students took measurements of the circumference and diameter of various cylindrical containers to discover that the ratio of circumference to diameter was equivalent to Pi. The students also figured out that a person’s hat size is the circumference of their head in inches divided by Pi, and, using an online search engine, discovered the number sequence that makes up their birthdate within the infinite numbers after the decimal in Pi.
Both the high school and fifth-grade students concluded their celebrations with Pi-themed snacks. Mount students had gluten-free cupcakes donated by a parent decorated with the digits of Pi, and the high school dished out pieces of different pies.
Juniors Granted Fellowships to Simons Summer Research Program
As a result of a comprehensive application process, Ward Melville High School juniors Luran He, Harrison Li and Alan Wei have been selected as recipients of fellowships through the Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University. These students, each of whom is part of Ward Melville’s student research program InSTAR, will be working on novel research at Stony Brook labs throughout the summer, culminating in a symposium presentation, and will each receive a $1,000 stipend. Only about 14 percent of all applicants are accepted into the Simons Program, a program that only allows for three applications to be made per school.
According to Stony Brook University’s website, the Simons Program gives academically talented, motivated high school students between their junior and senior years the opportunity to engage in hands-on research in science, math or engineering at Stony Brook University. Simons Fellows work with distinguished faculty mentors, learn laboratory techniques and tools, become part of active research teams and experience life at a research university. Established in 1984, the Simons Summer Research Fellowship Program is supported by the Simons Foundation and individual faculty grants.
Ward Melville Juniors Named Winners at LI Youth Summit
Ward Melville High School juniors Eric Hu and Eric Zhang were among the nearly 300 top Long Island high school students to participate in the 4th Annual Long Island Youth Summit at Dowling College. As participants of the Summit, the two were chosen to present their collective essay that discussed a possible solution to a topical problem Long Islanders face.
The students’ original research project focused on the impact of Hurricane Sandy, in particular addressing the need for short- and long-term planning in the event of such a future weather occurrence, the need for increased communication, alternative energy sources and the effects of global warming. At the end of the program, the students were named one of the Best Project winners in the category of the “Impact of Hurricane Sandy” and were presented with Dowling scholarships.
Along with sharing their project, the students also had the chance to work with top experts to explore solutions for Long Island, taking part in some of the program’s nine topical workshops that covered environmental, socio-medical and community issues. They also heard from keynote speaker Donald Monti, president and CEO of Renaissance Downtowns. Mr. Monti spoke to students about the importance of becoming leaders and being active in building the social and economic future of Long Island through investment in Smart Growth-type planning, as well as building communities that will allow for economic growth and environmental preservation.
The Summit is a public-private partnership between Dowling College, the North Shore-LIJ Health System, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Vision Long Island and participating high school districts on Long Island, with students from 21 school districts in both Suffolk and Nassau counties submitting original research projects to the Summit Winner Selection Committee. On the day of the conference, winners received awards in every Summit topical category. In addition, students received awards for best science research paper, best original video, best original art, best original photo art, and the overall top prize of Best Project.