Setauket Wins Food Drive Contest, Nick Cannon Visits

After spending many hours collecting canned and nonperishable food items on weekends and after school, Setauket Elementary School was named the first-place winner in the Nick Cannon “Takeover” Food Drive, coordinated by LI Cares and Party 105. As a result of the schoolwide effort, organized by fourth-grade teacher Lisa Wall and assisted by Pam Austin and Pam Roberts, the school collected 26,732 pounds of food for the LI Cares Harry Chapin Food Bank. For winning the contest, Nick Cannon, host of “America’s Got Talent,” visited the school before spring break and served as principal for the day.

A large number of donations were collected by Ms. Wall and her class, who distributed posters and letters at school and led the effort three weekends in a row, soliciting donations outside several local food stores. Student council members, sixth-grade volunteers and many parents were also instrumental in the process, as they inspired the entire school to take part in the challenge and aid those in need. The 43 participating schools collected a total of 139,158 pounds of food during the drive, which will assist LI Cares in providing 115,502 meals for families across Long Island.

“We tried to get all the students involved in the food drive” said Ms. Wall. “They were really excited to have won Nick Cannon as their principal for a day, but I think they understand that helping others was really the most important part of this contest.”

As a special thanks to Ms. Wall and her students for their extraordinary efforts, the class was invited to tour the LI Cares facility, help sort donations and attend a presentation on the hunger concern on Long Island.

National Praise for Chamber Orchestra

The Ward Melville High School chamber orchestra, under the direction of Phil Gelfer, took high honors at this year’s World Strides Heritage Festival in Boston. The festival featured performing groups from the Northeast to Canada and Florida. More than 800 students from 14 school systems took part in the festival.

As a result of their flawless performance, the chamber orchestra received first-place gold honors in all three orchestra categories. In addition, as the highest-scoring group at the weekend competition, Ward Melville received the prestigious Adjudicator’s Award for outscoring both the instrumental and choral groups at the festival.

Sprachfest 2014

Ward Melville High School students had the chance to attend this year’s Sprachfest at Hauppauge High School. The program, which is an annual Long Island German Language Festival for middle and high schoolers and is sponsored by the AATG-LI (the Long Island chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German), highlights the study of German in a fun way and creates excitement around, with and through German language and culture. It also serves to unite the German educational communities with the larger German-American community, as several local societies attend the program to help with the competitions and judging.

During the program, the students competed against peers from across Long Island in a series of competitve and noncompetitive events. These included competitive events like culture bowl, music, Scrabble, geography, spelling and vocabulary, as well as non-competitive events such as singing, German speaking corner, soccer clinic and bingo.

The Ward Melville students enjoyed a memorable day utilizing their German language skills and many received ribbons or certificates for their successful placement in the events.

The honorees include:    
Baking Competition:
1st place – Vanilla Crescents: Daron Klett
2nd place – Frankfurter Kranz: Jonathan Fink
Geography Bee
2nd place – Daron Klett
3rd place – Andrew Mata
Music – Instrumental (9/10 group)
1st place – Jonathan Finke, Thomas Kiernan, Victoria LaRocco, Jeffrey Michel, Dana Smith
Poetry Contest (9/10 Individual)
2nd place – Jeffrey Michel
3rd place – Sydney Baranowski

Poetry Contest (11/12 Individual)
3rd place – Jonathan Fink

Program Design Contest
3rd place – Gemma Beals-Reid

Scrabble Competition (10th Grade Division)
3rd place – Thomas Kiernan, Victoria La Rocco, Andrew Mata, Demian Zuric
1st place – Sydney Baranowski, Jonathan Finke, Jeffrey Michel, Dana Smith

Spelling Bee
1st place – Sydney Baranowski

Annual Spring into Art Exhibit - 4/26


Courtroom Lessons

The Three Village Mock Trial Team, comprised of nine students from P.J. Gelinas Junior High School and Ward Melville High School, recently completed their inaugural season. During the year, the students entered six competitions and advanced to the semifinal round of the county competition at the Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip before judges.

To prepare for the competitions, the students practiced between four and eight hours a week under the guidance of Douglas Elliot, a Paul J. Gelinas JHS teacher, to learn legal terms, crafting arguments, critical thinking and elocution. In addition to the organized competitions, the team also participated in a mock trial exhibition for the residents of Jefferson’s Ferry in South Setauket. This event was held as a service to the residents of Jefferson’s Ferry. 

Showcasing Skills

Ward Melville High School students enrolled in the Eastern LI Academy for Applied Technology (former BOCES) program, recently competed and earned top honors at this year’s SkillsUSA regional contest at Suffolk County Community College. This national organization is found at many vocational schools and offers students the chance to demonstrate their knowledge of the hands-on subjects they are studying.

During this year’s contest, Ward Melville students earned the following awards:
Amanda Giattino – 1st place, Promo Bulletin Board; 1st place Pin Design
Jessica Ouderkirk – 2nd place, Pin Design
Kathleen O’Brien – 2nd place, Advertising Design
Alyssa Concolino – 2nd place, Opening/Closing Ceremony
Samantha Villella – 2nd place, Health Knowledge Bowl

As a result of their outstanding placement at the regional level, Concolino, Giattino, O’Brien and Villella are going to the NY State SkillsUSA competition.

WMHS Staff Trained in CPR


Review of Elementary Math Program


Students Work to Advance Science Technology

Ward Melville High School science research students Nimra Ghani, Swati Gupta, Sapna Nath and Adina Nawaz were named regional winners in the grade 10-12 division of the 2014 Toshiba/NSTA Exploravision contest. The competition challenged the students to take a current technology and project it 20 years in the future using current scientific techniques.

The four juniors worked on a project to prevent breast cancer by working with an engineered gene and zinc fingers, a protein that binds to specific DNA. The students worked within the area of BRCA genes, which are closely related to breast cancer. The students were advised by Ward Melville InSTAR teacher Dr. George Baldo and Dr. Diana Murray throughout their research project.

As regional winners, each student received a tablet from the company along with a framed certificate. The district was also awarded a laptop with advanced software, a commemorative banner and a plaque.

Gelinas Heads to Nationals

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School’s Science Olympiad team once again dominated the competition at this year’s New York State Science Olympiad tournament and took home first-place honors, which qualifies them to advance to the national competition. The team, comprised of 15 students in grades seven through nine, with 15 alternates, was led by captains Ian Baram, Adam Dzurney, and Kirti Nath, and advised by coach Gary Vorwald with the assistance of Michael Bouklas, Ed Daguerre, Christine DiFede, Monica Gerber, Christopher Marotta and Hope Schroeder, as well as members of the Ward Melville High School team.

During the contest, Gelinas competed against 36 of the state’s best teams in 25 events. Medals were awarded to the top six places in each event. Gelinas was awarded medals in 19 out of 25 events, including 11 golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“I am so proud of all the students in our Gelinas Science Olympiad program,” said Mr. Vorwald. “Their hard work and dedication has again been rewarded with great accomplishments. This is the 10th consecutive year that Gelinas has been first or second in New York State, and I believe this is due to the culture of learning and teamwork that we have fostered. We had more than 85 students participate in the program, and every one of them is a winner in my book. They have learned to love what Science Olympiad is about: the pursuit of learning science and technology in a fun, nurturing and competitive environment. I am also proud of the teamwork exhibited by the team and how the kids genuinely care for each other and help each other. This has contributed to our success as much as the hard work of all of our team members.”

In addition to Gelinas’ first-place win, R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s Science Olympiad Team placed fifth at the state competition and received medals in 10 of the 25 events.

Promoting Cultural Awareness of Japan

Ward Melville High School student Fongrui Tong received third place in Stony Brook University’s Japan Center Essay Contest. The aim of the Japan Center Essay Competition is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and help young Americans broaden their international horizons. Contestants had to write about one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences and/or future goals.

Learning to Stay Healthy

Setauket Elementary School third- through sixth-grade students had the chance to take an up-close look at the field of medicine when members of the Stony Brook University Class of 2015 physicians assistants program visited the building. During the event, the students attended a variety of hands-on and informational health literacy workshops.

The stations focused on the heart, germs and the brain. Students learned how the heart pumps blood and is a muscle that never stops working through a fist pumping station; tested their heart rate both before and after a short exercise; learned how neurons allow the brain to function; and the effectiveness of hand washing using “germ goo” and black lights.

Winning Photo Displays at Smithsonian

Ward Melville High School student-artist Alan Wei has earned high praise in a national contest organized by the Wilderness50 Coalition, along with the staff at Nature’s Best Photography. Three of Alan’s photos were chosen for consideration in the Nature’s Best Photography Wilderness Forever Photo Contest, and one of those three photos was chosen as an honorable mention. As an honorable mention winner, Alan’s piece will be on exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., opening on Sept. 3.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization Summer Programs


Lessons Spotlighted Internationally

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School art teacher Michael Sacco recently had his fifth article published in the internationally read SchoolArts magazine. “The Selfie Project” is a ninth-grade media arts project, which explores the self-portrait and digital media. The article speaks to the role of the self-portrait throughout art history, and the challenges that arise with the self-image of the junior high school student. Accompanying the written piece was artwork completed by Gelinas’ ninth-graders Bella Ayer and Amy Huang.

Mr. Sacco was asked to spotlight this project by the magazine’s editor for its special National Art Education Association National Conference issue, which will feature new media lessons.

Space Adventures

W.S. Mount Elementary School fifth-graders journeyed more than 70 years into the future to experience a space mission firsthand. During the live e-mission “Moon, Mars and Beyond,” the students made connections to their classroom math, language arts and science lessons as they helped NASA locate and rescue a lost spaceship that was orbiting one of the outer planets.

During the videoconference, which was run with a flight director at mission control from the Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University, the students worked in planet teams to analyze and compute answers to a variety of mathematical questions. By examining different variables and making predictions, including how much food, oxygen and water would be needed for the mission, the fifth-graders were able to successfully accomplish the rescue. In addition to tying into the school’s math and science curricula, the activity also allowed students to practice their reading skills, think critically and logically, and learn how to communicate effectively with teammates.

“This was a fun and exciting way to learn about some of the topics we were talking about in math and science,” said fifth-grader Emma Fitzsimons. “I learned a lot about the different planets and enjoyed the fun math problems.”  

Prior to the videoconference, the students researched each of the planets, learning about their distance from the sun, surface materials and other facts, before working in small groups to create posters depicting their findings. Additionally, classroom teachers focused on graphing skills and conducted simulated math problems.

Curling Up with a Good Book

Nassakeag Elementary School kindergarten through second-grade students celebrated literacy during an evening read aloud program called Milk and Cookies Night. During the event, students enjoyed hearing songs performed by Johnny Cuomo, listening to several classic stories read aloud by members of the Ward Melville High School National Honor Society and sampling a selection of milk and cookies with friends.

JHS Hit Musicals

P.J. Gelinas and R.C. Murphy junior high school’s student-actors dazzled audiences this March with their musical productions of “Tarzan” and “Legally Blonde,” respectively. Nearly 500 seventh- through ninth-grade students were involved in the productions after months of rehearsals under the direction of Robert DePersio (Gelinas) and Anthony Pollera (Murphy).

In addition to the audiences that packed the school’s auditoriums during the regular shows, each school showcased this year’s musical during free daytime performances for the district’s sixth-graders and senior citizen community. As this year’s musical marked the 30th anniversary of the theater arts program at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, a special ceremony was held during the show’s Friday performance.

During the event, Gelinas Principal Marion Gaigal was honored for her instrumental role in starting the program in 1984 and a special slideshow, prepared by art teacher Corinne Keane, covering the 30-year program, was displayed. Ms. Gaigal was also presented with an honorary “Oscar” from Mr. DePersio and members of the cast.

Click here to view the P.J. Gelinas JHS slideshow.

Click here to view the R.C. Murphy JHS slideshow.

Creating a Client’s Brand

Ward Melville High School 10th- through 12th-graders enrolled in the school’s Advanced Graphic class had the chance to take part in a real-world exercise when they recently created and presented branding designs to a company. The students began the project by interviewing the client – the Puppet Shakespeare Players from Manhattan – before working to create a logo and a “look” for the company.

“Over the years, the graphic design program at Ward Melville High School has offered students a look into the lives of designers,” said Jennifer Trettner, teacher and chairperson for art and technology. “Students have thought outside the box and solved real-world problems while gaining invaluable experience and creating a strong and competitive portfolio for college. In addition to learning about art, art careers and gaining invaluable real-world experiences, the students also crossed curricula by incorporating the academic subjects. They learned how to speak publicly and to articulate their thoughts; write about their work; incorporate Common Core vocabulary that can be used across disciplines; research art and world history; build upon their 21st century skills; problem solve; and become confident in their ability to produce high-quality work.”

The students presented their completed designs to the client and are awaiting a decision on which piece was selected.

State Reflections Honoree

Minnesauke Elementary School sixth-grader Sophia Castellano received an Award of Merit and third-place honors at the New York State Reflections competition. The program, sponsored annually by the PTA, was themed “Believe, Dream, Inspire.” For her project, Sophia created a ballet dance to the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole medley of “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.”

The Reflections competition encourages students to unleash their artistic talents, reflect on the theme and create original works of art. Contest submissions are encouraged in five categories: dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts.

Father Shares Poignant Anti-Bullying Message

The devastating effects bullying had on his son and their family echoed throughout Ward Melville High School and P.J. Gelinas Junior High School when John Halligan presented the anti-bullying program, Ryan’s Story. The workshop, which is based on his son Ryan’s life, told the tale of a 13-year-old middle school student from Vermont who committed suicide in 2003 because of bullying.

Throughout the workshops, Mr. Halligan recounted the story of his son’s life, the ridicule he endured both in school and online, the devastating impact his son’s suicide has had on his life, and the power of forgiveness. After telling his son’s tragic story, Mr. Halligan urged students to have the courage to be upstanders rather than bystanders.

A special program was presented to parents at Ward Melville High School following the in school programs for students.

Experimenting with Science

As an extension of their classroom studies, W.S. Mount Elementary School first-, second- and third-grade students had the chance to experience a number of complex science topics through hands-on activities. With the help of presenters from Mad Science, the students each took part in workshops centered on the topics of dry ice, sonic sounds and chemistry, respectively.

During the third-grade chemistry workshop, the students learned about different types of chemical reactions, the differences between solids and bases and the properties of a chemical. To visually demonstrate how a chemical reaction creates a new substance comprised of its original components, the presenter demonstrated an iron-oxide reaction for the class. At each of their stations, the students then had the opportunity to replicate a carbon dioxide reaction using a balloon, sodium bicarbonate and vinegar, as well as use an indicator solution to test if a material was a base or acid. Lastly, the students learned about the differences between exothermic and endothermic reactions with the help of a heating pack.

At the end of each workshop, the students received a beaker and instruction manual to continue their experiments at home. They also earned a certificate of completion.

T-Shirts Designs Promote Kindness

Arrowhead Elementary School students and staff members have been displaying the positive character traits and attributes described in their schoolwide character education program throughout the school year. In celebration of the initiative and to help promote the program, the school’s fifth- and sixth-graders recently had the chance to create original designs depicting the phrase “Arrowhead Cares.” The submissions were judged internally, and two winners – Brianna Jimenez and Claire Cituk – were selected. The drawings of both students will be featured on commemorative 2014 Arrowhead Cares T-shirts.

Along with the district’s other schools, Arrowhead has been incorporating the character education program PBIS – Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports – into school activities and everyday experiences. Through the program, students are rewarded and praised for exhibiting positive behaviors in the hopes of encouraging similar behaviors in the future. At Arrowhead, the staff has incorporated the districtwide PBIS initiative into its existing Rachel's Challenge program. Students who are “caught” demonstrating acts of kindness are given a paper chain of kindness link, which bears their name and the behavior displayed. Teachers connect these links in a display throughout the building, and at the end of the year the links are all connected for a schoolwide celebration. 

“PBIS is very important, as it clearly outlines expectations and rules for the students within the classroom and throughout the entire school,” said Arrowhead PBIS committee chair Judy Forgione. “These behaviors are consistently encouraged and reinforced. Research proves that as a result, students will continue to engage in those positive behaviors. As educators, we need to nurture the child's academic as well as social and emotional needs.”

Students and teachers had the chance to purchase Arrowhead Cares T-shirts. The school also plans to organize a special Arrowhead Cares day to celebrate character-building activities, at which time students and staff can wear their commemorative shirts. 

The T-shirt design contest was organized by art teacher Rachel Condron with the help of student teacher Sabrina Cacciatore.

Artwork Featured in Congressional Competition

The artwork of four Ward Melville High School seniors – Ruby Barresi, Robert Kent, Trevor Munch and Alexandria Valdes – has been selected for submission to this year’s Congressional Art Competition, sponsored by Tim Bishop’s office. The students’ pieces will be on display at the Lyceum Gallery in the Montaukett Learning Center at Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus. A special awards presentation will take place on Saturday, March 29 from 2-4 p.m.

This event is sponsored each spring by the U.S. Congress to recognize and encourage students’ artistic talents in the nation and each congressional district. Students submit artwork and local artists in each district select the winning entries, which are then displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in D.C. Since 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Previous contest honorees include Ward Melville’s Danica Parry, who received top honors in 2007 with a scholarship to SCAD. Her painting was hung in the Capitol for a year.

This year’s submissions were made by Jennifer Trettner, Ward Melville chairperson for art and technology.

Two Patriots Win Big

Ward Melville High School student-athletes Cydney Crasa and Nicholas Piccininni continue to set new records for their sports, and each performed flawlessly at the recent New York State championships.

Cydney, a sophomore on the varsity gymnastics team, has not lost a dual gymnastics meet since the seventh grade and holds several impressive titles. During this year’s state championship, she earned a near-perfect score of 9.55 on balance beam, earning her first place and her fourth New York State title. She has set a Suffolk County record of 9.725 on balance beam; has earned four Suffolk County team championships, four Suffolk County titles as an individual in each event, and four state event titles in floor, vault and balance beam (twice); is a two-time Long Island MSG Varsity Athlete of the Year; and is a New York State Scholar-Athlete. Cydney will be competing in the Junior Olympic Nationals in Mississippi this May.

Nicholas, a high school junior, has set a new standard for wrestling not only within the program at Ward Melville, but also in Suffolk County and New York State. With a season record of 45-0, Nicholas went on to earn another Suffolk County and New York State title earlier this year. His overall career record is 183-3, with 133 consecutive wins. He is a four-time League I Champion, a four-time Suffolk County Champion, a four-time All-State wrestler, a three-time New York State champion, and a 2013 All-American. He is currently ranked fourth in the nation in the 120-pound weight class.

“We are so extremely proud of you and your accomplishments,” said Erin Blaney, executive director for health, physical education, recreation and athletics,  during a recent Board of Education meeting. “On behalf of the Board of Education, district administration and athletic department, I congratulate you, your coaches and your parents on these outstanding achievements.”

Scoring Perfect on ACT

Ward Melville High School students Charlotte Broadbent, Harrison Li, Alexander Shea and Raymond Yin have achieved something earned by less than 0.1 percent of test takers – a perfect score on the ACT. Charlotte, Harrison and Alexander sat for the exam in June of 2013. Raymond took the exam in April 2013.

“To be a top achiever at Ward Melville High School is a great achievement,” said Principal Dr. Alan Baum. “But to realize this level of mastery on a national level is an incredible accomplishment.”

According to its website, “The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam that measures skills and knowledge taught in school and deemed important for success in college.” The exam comprises subject areas in English, mathematics, reading and science, as well as an optional writing test.

Updated Immunization Requirements for Students Entering Kindergarten and 6th Grade

New York State has updated the immunization requirements for students for the 2014-2015 school year.  Any student that will be enrolled in kindergarten or grade 6, as well as, new entrants to the school district in the 2014-2015 school year must have these immunizations.

Contractors for Kids 2014 - April 26 - Ward Melville High School

The annual Contractors for Kids 7th Annual 5K Run/Walk and Health & Wellness Fair will be held on April 26, 2014 at Ward Melville High School. Please click here for event and registration form.

Three Village Lacrosse Players Receive National Attention

Members of the Ward Melville High School boys and girls lacrosse programs have been selected for showcase in the Dick’s Sporting Goods 2014 lacrosse marketing efforts. The students were chosen for this honor based on their athletic accomplishments as well as the character and leadership skills demonstrated both on and off the field.

The 2013 team members, along with members of the Three Village Boys Youth Lacrosse League, participated in a two-day photo shoot with professionals from the national sporting goods store. The students were pictured participating in practice drills and scrimmages wearing and using some of the lacrosse products sold at Dick’s nationwide, including sticks, gloves, goggles, cleats, uniforms, socks, elbow and shoulder pads as well as helmets. The students will be featured in the store’s print, in-store and digital lacrosse material in 2014.

During the 2013 season, the varsity boys lacrosse team was ranked first nationally and named New York State, Long Island and County champions. The girls team advanced to the Suffolk County finals for the second year in a row.