Learning by Experimenting

R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s Earth Smart class, taught by Michael Jantzen, was given the chance to design their own experiment during an inquiry-based weather activity.

With access to a variety of scientific equipment, the students worked to design an experiment that would test a weather-related variable. Some of the ideas students came up with included activities that related to specific heat, evaporation rates and phase changes. The goal was to have the students use the inquiry model and pose a question for which they wanted more information. 

After a trial run, students presented their ideas to the class, which in turn provided feedback. The class then performed the experiment voted to have the most well developed procedure and analyzed the data.

“I like the inquiry model because it allows students to identify their own areas of curiosity and engage in hands-on learning using science process skills to seek information,” said Mr. Jantzen.

Second Place Internationally

Ward Melville High School senior Niyati Desai was named a second-place finalist in the physics category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair from May 10-15 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Niyati used graphene to develop a new type of transistor that can be 100 times smaller than current silicon-based versions. This pioneering work is expected to lead to a new generation of super-small electronic devices that are far more sophisticated and efficient than our current technology.
Niyati, a member of Ward Melville’s InSTAR science research program, presented her work alongside more than 1,700 student scientists from 75 countries, regions and territories. Dr. George J.  Baldo, InSTAR program director, said, “Niyati’s work leads us into the future of electronics, and her recognition is well-deserved. She is a most creative, intelligent and motivated young scientist. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with her during the early stages of what will be an extraordinary scientific career.”

ISEF is a program of Society for Science & the Public and the world's largest international pre-college science competition. High school students showcase their independent research as they compete for approximately $4 million in prizes. The Intel ISEF is the premier global science competition for students in grades 9–12.

A Doll of a Drive

Under the direction of sixth-graders Lily Mattimoe and Bella Mattimoe, Setauket Elementary School students and staff members worked to bring joy to young children living across the globe by donating to the Doll Drive for Kids in Africa project.

The effort, which was started by 9-year-old Sofia Kimuyu, who moved from New York City to Nairobi, Kenya, was widely embraced by the school community. Gently used and new dolls were donated to the cause, which will in turn give the items to children in Kenya.

Appreciating Drivers

R.C. Murphy Junior High School honored the drivers who ensure students arrive to and depart from the building safely each day during a special Bus Driver Appreciation Day in mid-May. The drivers received a warm welcome to school on that day and were treated to tasty breakfast treats after dropping students off.

Artful Collaboration

R.C. Murphy Junior High School Art Honor Society, led by Dr. Laurie Mandel and Brian Baker, partnered with North Shore Montessori School under the direction of Meg Sheehan to bring an under the sea musical celebration to life for the school’s preschool and kindergarten students.

An octopus, whale, sea turtle and fish set the stage for a wonderful day of singing, dancing and community. North Shore Montessori expressed their gratitude to students Brianna Center, Bailey Murray, Stephanie Alvarez and Tori Bogdanski for their hard work and dedication.

District Welcomes New Professionals

The district has appointed Tanya Hurowitz and Merrilleen Heidrich as assistant principals of Arrowhead and W.S. Mount elementary schools, respectively. Both professionals will begin their new appointments on July 1, 2015.

Ms. Hurowitz, a veteran educator for nearly 20 years, is a familiar face in the district, having worked at the elementary level from 2000-2008. She is currently the assistant principal of Woodhull Elementary School in the William Floyd School District. During her time in Three Village, Ms. Hurowitz worked as a summer reading teacher, third-grade teacher and assistant principal at Nassakeag Elementary School.  

Ms. Heidrich has worked in the educational field since 1996 and is currently an AIS math teacher and special education summer school principal at Sunrise Drive Elementary School in the Sayville School District. She is the recipient of the New York School Data Analysis Technical Assistance Group Excellence in Education Teacher Award and is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Three Village Budget Passes:

Yes – 2401
No – 723

Board of Education Election:
Deanna Bavlnka – 2052 *
William F. Connors, Jr. - 2200 *
Jeffrey Mischler - 1095

* Elected

Imagining Advanced Technology


R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s Earth Smart students Catherine Cao, Kelsey Ge, Priya Mukhi, Kayla St. Denis and Varsha Talanki earned top honors during this year’s science invention contest, ExploraVision.

Under the guidance of teachers Michael Jantzen and Pamila Pahuja, the students studied a technology of interest and predicted what that technology might be like 20 years from today using current scientific techniques. The students worked in two groups, and both projects earned honorable mention.

Kelsey and Priya’s project examined advancements with a common drug used to combat Parkinson’s disease. Varsha, Catherine and Kayla proposed to create a watch to detect pollen for allergy sufferers.

Building a Garden of Learning

Learning Soars to New Heights

Ward Melville High School students Stephen Chapman, Vincent DeStefano, Dafni Frohman and Alex Gibbs learned how to fly a plane as they studied aerodynamics during this year’s Build a Plane Aviation Design Challenge.

During the national competition, the students were tasked with modifying a plane in a flight simulator program and then flying a course. The students’ selected a biplane and worked to maximize its specs for a 37 nautical mile trip. The statistics of the flight were calculated and the best wing design was crowned the winner.

“Half of the battle was first learning how to fly correctly,” said Vincent. “The project involved a lot of designing and conceptual thinking. It was a great real-world application of the topic – one that allowed us to better understand the principles of flight.”

Only 100 students were accepted to this nationwide contest, which was designed to promote science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Student Volunteers to Serve

National Acclaim for Writers

Ward Melville High School junior Amanda Liu and R.C. Murphy Junior High School eighth-grader Katie Zhao earned praise from the National Council of Teachers of English this spring for their original writings.

Amanda was named a winner in the NCTE’s 2015 Achievement Awards in Writing. A total of 650 juniors were nominated from schools across the country to participate in the program. National judges evaluated all compositions on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, organization, development and style. Judges also looked for writing that demonstrated effective and imaginative use of language to inform and move an audience. Amanda was one of only 14 students in New York State to be selected for this achievement.

Katie was named a winner in the 2015 NCTE Promising Young Writers Competition.  National judges reviewed all compositions, and 45 students were selected as national winners, only 10 from Long Island.

Inspiring Creativity

Scoring Honors at Summit

Several Ward Melville High School students participated in and took home top honors at the sixth annual Long Island Youth Summit hosted by Dowling College this spring.

The students, who were supported in their efforts by teacher Allison Kane, worked individually or in groups and submitted projects. After presenting their topics and solutions to an audience of experts in the field, these students were selected as finalists and four of the teams won scholarships and prizes. Congratulations to the following students:

Breanna Cea for “Leadership in a Divided Society”

Samantha Mancuso and Eric Wang for “Protection of Long Island’s Water”

Benjamin Winston and Emily Winston for “The Solid Waste Crisis”

Gabriel Gang and William Yoo for “Living on Long Island: Economic Development, Community and Housing”

Abby Abraham and Eric (Rui) Zhang for “Cyberbullying and Social Networking”

German Competition

 Ward Melville High School students had the chance to showcase their understanding of the German language during this year’s Sprachfest at Accompsett Middle School.

The program, which is an annual Long Island German Language Festival for middle and high schoolers and is sponsored by 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 competitive and noncompetitive events. Congratulations to the following Ward Melville students:
Baking Competition:
Jeffrey Michel, third place — Apfelkuchen                
Daron Klett, third place — Bundt Cake                
Music – Instrumental:
Victoria LaRocco, Andrew Mata, Jeffrey Michel and Dana Smith, second place

Poetry Contest:
Jeffrey Michel, first place                        
Sydney Baranowski, second place                        

Scrabble Competition (10th grade Division):
Sydney Baranowski, Victoria La Rocco, Andrew Mata and Jeffrey Michel, third place
Sydney Baranowski, Victoria LaRocco, Andrew Mata, Jeffrey Michel and Dana Smith, first place

Spelling Bee:
Sydney Baranowski, second place                        

Building, Programming, Competing

Securing Funding from ‘Sharks’

Ward Melville High School science teacher Jenny Serigano was named a Bright Light Honoree by the Suffolk ASSET Association and an award winner in the organization’s “Shark Tank” technology competition.

Similar to the hit TV show, Ms. Serigano made a pitch to a panel of “sharks” to secure funding for a technology project in her physics class – a subscription to an online simulation website called Explore Learning. The simulators, which include a variety of math and science items, align with the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. She received funding for the project from Logic Wing and TEQ, who were benefactors attending the event.

“The subscription is great because the students each receive login names and passwords and can access the website at any time,” she said. “I have used the simulators as lab activities, demonstrations in class and for homework.”

Pieces of Energy

Members of R.C. Murphy Junior High School’s National Junior Honor Society, SHARP club, National Art Honor Society and student government found their inner artist as they organized a creative community service project to raise awareness for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

The initiative, which was inspired by W.S. Mount Elementary School sixth-grader and 2015 Shining Star for the CCFA Rebecca Rogak, called for 55 students, along with their club advisors, to create inspirational pieces, pendants, key rings and bracelets known as “pieces of energy.”

Academic All-Stars

Ward Melville High School’s JV Academic Team had an impressive performance at the 2015 Regional Quiz Bowl Tournament this spring. With one player short of a full team, Ian Baram, Nima Mohammadi and Dylan Masters won a series of decisive victories against their competition and took home the first-place trophy.

Melodic Spring Performances


Ward Melville High School student-musicians performed a number of selections during their spring concert series. The Concert I showcase included performances by the concert band, honors jazz ensemble, symphonic band and wind ensemble. Below are a few pictures from the program.

Photos courtesy of Greg Catalano.


Jumping into Nature

Summer Enrichment Newsletter - Registration Extended to Tuesday, May 26!


Purifying Water Supplies

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School eighth-grade student Joshua George was awarded honorable mention for his submission to the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition.

Considered by many to be the nation’s premier scientific essay competition, the DuPont Challenge Essay has more than 10,000 student applicants annually from 50 states. All of the students enrolled in the Earth SMART classes at Gelinas submitted essays to this science competition in fulfillment of a course requirement. Josh was one of only 20 students selected out of the thousands of applicants from the Junior Division for the Honorable Mention status and will receive a $200 U.S. savings bond.

For his essay, “Humidity Save Lives,” Josh described how water vapor in the air could potentially be a source of drinking water for areas of the world that are facing shortages. In his paper, he described a machine that would run off solar power and collect the water from the atmosphere where it wasn’t present on the ground (essentially a solar-powered dehumidifier and filter). His writing displayed a high level of understanding of the problem parts of our planet face with regards to water supply (today and in the future), as well as a unique solution that may be feasible in certain areas.

Sports Spectacular


Nassakeag Elementary School’s community came together for a charity event in support of Contractors For Kids in advance of the districtwide event this April.

During the Nassakeag Sports Spectacular event, faculty and staff members competed in various fun and exciting relay races. Attendees donated more than $4,200 for Contractors For Kids through ticket and concession sales. In addition to enjoying the display of athleticism present during the event, the school quadrupled the number of CFK Walk/Run participants to almost 110 athletes.

Nassakeag’s faculty and staff thanks all of the supporters.

Qualifying for Scholarships

Forty-six Ward Melville High School students qualified to enter the 2016 National Merit Scholarship program for the chance at the annual contest’s wide-ranging scholarships. The following students were granted this opportunity based on their results on the 2014 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Eleni Aneziris
Sage Beasley
Natalie Butkevich
Kevin Caoo
Sean Cassidy
Sophia Chen
Shannon Dalton
Drew A. Ehrlich
Cory H. Emery
Arman Esmaili
Hannah R. Goldberg
Sarah R. Gutman
Yiran S. He
Joseph L. Hines
Ashley Hong
Thomas P. Kernan
Woonyoung Kim
Maho Koga
Ariel K. Leong
Thomas T. Li
Rhea J. Lieberman
Alice S. Liu
Amanda Liu
Rachel C. Marotto
Andrew A. Mata
Jeffrey R. Michel
Nima Mohammadi
Rajiv S. Moturu
Mark F. Nie
Megan G. Patton
Katerina Sadov
Heidi E. Scarth
Rebecca E. Schneider
Mohit M. Singh
Sarah Sun
Joshua D. Tanenbaum
Selina Tang
Fangrui Tong
Jason M. Wallach
Katherine E. Wang
Orion S. Weiss
Emily L. Winston
Jennifer Y. Yang
Grace Y. Zhang
Elizabeth Zhao
Grace Zhao

State Champs – AGAIN!

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School’s Science Olympiad team captured first place and R.C. Murphy Junior High School finished sixth during the New York State Tournament on April 18 in Syracuse, New York. 

In one of their best performances, Gelinas’ team won medals in 22 out of 25 events as they competed against 35 of the best teams in the state. Murphy’s team also competed victoriously as they earned 13 medals.

As a first-place finisher, Gelinas’ team will now compete in the National Tournament at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, in May.

Award-Winning Writers

Ward Melville High School sophomores Megan Bush, Julia Coletti, Kirti Nath, Sachin Patnaik, Charlotte Schmidt and Isabelle Scott were selected to represent their school in the Kenneth F. Gambone Writing Contest.

The students were invited to participate in the contest by submitting a sample of their best writing and complete an impromptu piece. Submissions were judged anonymously and were scored by two different members of the English department using criteria established by the National Council of Teachers of English.

As the school representatives, their work will now be judged by the Long Island Language Arts Council.

Victory in Court

The district’s mock trial team – comprised of students from P.J. Gelinas Junior High School and Ward Melville High School – is setting records in its second year of competition, having recently won the Suffolk County Regional Championship.

During the contest, the district’s students defeated a tough team from Bay Shore within the Federal Courthouse. They will now compete for the state title against eight other regional champions in Albany this May.

“This is the most dedicated and unified group of young people I have worked with, and they are very deserving of the accomplishment,” said coach and Gelinas teacher Douglas Elliot. “To achieve what they have accomplished in two years is truly remarkable.”

Wrestlers Pin State Honors

Ward Melville High School varsity wrestlers Nick Piccininni and Christian Areano earned New York State Championship titles this year.

Nick earned his fourth state championship title since he began his wrestling career at Ward Melville. His latest title was earned in the 126-pound weight class. He also tied the New York State record for the most amount of championship titles held by one person. He is a five-time Suffolk County Champion and five-time All-State wrestler. Upon graduation this year, he will attend Oklahoma State University, which runs one of the premier wrestling programs in the country.

Christian won his first New York State championship title in the 195-pound weight class. On the road to the state contest, Christian also won league and Suffolk County champion titles.

Making an Impact

In celebration of Earth Day, students and staff members throughout the district participated in a variety of hands-on activities centered on the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling materials.

Minnesauke Elementary School kindergarten students in Cassie Sheridan’s and Allison Babb’s classes used upcycled milk cartons to create planters for small seeds. The students painted cartons discarded in the cafeteria and used the colorful creations to plant seeds of their choosing.

Each student received a plant journal to track their plant’s growth and will share their documented findings with their classmates each week.

Keeping with the school’s tradition, Nassakeag Elementary School’s student council members participated in the building’s annual Earth Day Clean Up, and sixth-graders in Robyn Weinstein’s class coordinated a Waste Free Lunch Week. During the clean up, the students worked to remove any debris located on the school’s grounds and planted two trees in the building’s courtyard donated by the PTA and head custodian John Moran.

As part of their class’s effort, Ms. Weinstein’s students 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. The students were encouraged to use recyclable lunch containers, use washable trays during lunch and monitor how many disposable utensils they select. The students charted the success of the initiative on a large graph in the cafeteria. Each class received a $5 Barnes and Noble gift card courtesy of the PTA to help support the initiative. The school eliminated more than 1,000 pounds of garbage during the week.


Elementary Math Report and Recommendation Presentation - April 22, 2015