One for the Record Books

Students from Minnesauke, Setauket and W.S. Mount elementary schools, as well as P.J. Gelinas and R.C. Murphy junior high schools, helped to break the Guinness World Record for the most horns performing on stage at one time during this year’s SCMEA Day of Horn.

The record was originally 180, held by a group of Pakistani sheep hornists, but this year’s SCMEA group surpassed that with more than 270 players on stage.

7-12 Grade Report Cards Now Viewable in the Portal

Second quarter report cards are now viewable in the Campus portal for all secondary students. Final grades for half year courses have also been posted.

Debate Team Captures Awards

Ward Melville High School’s Debate Team scored a big win during the All-Debate Tournament at Schreiber High School in Port Washington. Student-members Kathleen Esfahany and Michael Lu captured first-place trophies in Novice Public Forum, winning all four rounds with the highest speaker points. 

FBLA Team Earns Top Prizes

Ward Melville High School’s Future Business Leaders of America team earned top honors at this year’s Spring Regional Competition held at LIU Post.

More than 400 students participated in the program, which involved competitive events in a variety of business areas.

The winners of the state elimination events will represent Suffolk County at the FBLA State Leadership Conference in Rochester this April, where they will compete in their events against other winners from New York State.

Ward Melville’s chapter earned the following honors:

State Elimination Events:
Will Jin – 1st Place - Public Speaking I
Tanya Gupta – 1st Place - Public Speaking II
Michael Lu – 1st Place - Basic Decision Making
Dylan Chou – 5th Place - Client Services
Julia Hoffman – 5th Place - Impromptu Speaking

Written Tests:
Brandon Feng – 1st Place - Business Calculations
Sachin Patnaik – 1st Place - Business Communications
Thomas Li – 1st Place - Business Law
Donna Yu – 1st Place - Economics
Andrew Kirillov – 1st Place - Introduction to Business
Crystal Her – 2nd Place - Accounting II
Marina Vostrova – 2nd Place - Banking and Financial Systems
Serena Zhao – 2nd Place - Business Calculations
Zyad Gomaa – 2nd Place - Technology Concepts
San Ha Kim – 3rd Place - Banking and Financial Systems
Katie Wang – 3rd Place - Business Communications
Rajan Patel – 3rd Place - Hospitality Management
Hugh Ferguson – 3rd Place - Marketing
Nima Mohammadi – 4th Place - Word Processing
Austin Day – 5th Place - Sports & Entertainment Marke


Ward Melville High School’s Chess Club has made its mark on the state level.

Club President Ethan Li became the No. 1 ranked chess player in New York State for his age, while Sam Wallach took first place in his section by defeating the top-seeded player at the Greater Scholastic Chess Championship this January. Both Ethan and Sam had the opportunity to speak with and obtain the autograph of former World Champion chess player Gary Kasparov.

As a new club, the Ward Melville High School Chess Club is now on the map and is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Messages of Hope

Minnesauke Elementary School’s Kids Care Club created 75 cards and 50 bookmarks for the Message of Hope Foundation.

According to its website, the organization seeks to deliver messages of hope to children with special needs, chronic and life-threatening illnesses. It also delivers “happy hope bags” to hospitalized children nationwide.

Minnesauke’s creative crafts will aid the foundation in reaching its mission of collecting 100,000 “happy hope cards” in 2016 to package in the bags.

Regent Visits with Club Members

Members of Ward Melville High School’s Students United in Faith, Hebrew Culture and International Culture clubs attended a “Project Understanding” presentation by New York State Regent Roger Tilles.  

Mr. Tilles shared interfaith experiences designed to promote understanding and respect for different faith communities. The experience provided the students with an opportunity to further develop their appreciation and understanding of one another.

Advancing to Regional Contest

P.J. Gelinas Junior High School seventh-grader Emily Bussa has been named the winner of the schoolwide spelling bee and will now compete at the regional contest at Hofstra University.

Emily emerged as the winner during the sixth round of the contest after correctly spelling the word “pharaoh.”

Showcasing Musical Talents

The P.J. Gelinas Junior High School String Quartet was selected to perform and participate in learning activities at the LISFA Chamber Music Festival held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center this January.  

The quartet, comprised of violinists Samuel Catalfo and Benjamin Catalfo, violist Samuel Kim and cellist Janet Song, had the chance to attend a workshop with the Bryant Park Chamber Players and work on their musicianship with professional coaches. At the end of the festival, they performed Mozart’s String Quartet, K. 157 on the Staller Center Recital Hall stage.  

“It was a pleasure to see and hear our string quartet perform so well at this All-County event,” said teacher Alisa Rabbitt. “They represented our school and district in a stellar way.‬”

History Experts

W.S. Mount Elementary School fifth- and sixth-grade students had the chance to answer questions of historical importance as they participated in the National History Bee.  

More than 60 students took the contest’s written test, from which 25 semifinalists were selected for the competition’s oral round. Sixth-graders Neal Carpino, Matthew Chen and Ari Zucker emerged as the school winners and are now eligible to participate in the online qualifying exam. Their scores on that exam will determine whether they advance to the regional finals and compete in one of the 39 buzzer competitions across the United States.  

Where in the World

Seventh- and eighth-graders from P.J. Gelinas and R.C. Murphy junior high schools demonstrated their historical knowledge during the National Geographic Bee this January.  

All students participated in an initial round of testing, and winners from each social studies class moved on to a schoolwide competition. The school competitions yielded two champions: R.C. Murphy eighth-grader Peter DiPietro and P.J. Gelinas seventh-grader Matthew Kronenberg.

These students will now advance to the next level of the competition for the chance to qualify for the statewide competition.

Celebrating Languages

R.C. Murphy Junior High School students and staff celebrated world languages through a series of interactive events during this year’s Foreign Language Week.

Throughout the week, students tested their knowledge of languages during a trivia contest, showcased their creativity as part of a door decorating contest, listened to daily announcements in the three languages studied at Murphy, and visited a traveling mural exhibit. Additionally, the school continued its tradition of hosting cooking and culture classes for fifth- and sixth-grade students. Each of the three classes featured a different foreign language — Italian, French and Spanish — and instructed attendees on how to prepare a native dish from that region.

The week concluded with a celebratory International Night that featured cuisine, music and dance performances from around the world.

Alumni Share Advice and Guidance

Ward Melville High School alumni returned to their alma mater this winter to visit with current students and reflect upon their college and career experiences.

The annual Alumni Day program, a tradition at the school, featured students from numerous graduating classes, including the Class of 2015.

The panel of graduates spoke with students in the school’s LGI and individual classrooms to offer insight into postgraduate programs and answer questions. The topics ranged from freshman experiences and college coursework to determining one’s path immediately after high school or college.  

“By coming back for Alumni Day, I hoped to squelch some of the stereotypes or misconceptions the students may have heard about college,” said Cadet Chris Aliperti, who spent two months this past summer in cadet basic training and is a declared mechanical engineering major focused on nuclear energy systems. “Most of all, I wanted them to take away that whatever path they choose after high school, they should be sure to make the most of it.”  

 “I hope what the students took away is that each person has their own unique college experience,” said Adam Kuhn, a 2014 graduate of the University of Maryland and second-year law student at Syracuse University. “The most important thing I shared was that it’s OK in your freshman year to not know what you want to major in or what field you’re interested in. Many schools allow you to declare your major by the end of sophomore year. But once you figure out what you want, work hard to make it happen.”

Math Champions

Math teams from P.J. Gelinas and R.C. Murphy junior high schools took home top prizes after competing in the Suffolk County Math Teachers Association’s annual tournament this January.

Two teams from Gelinas and two from Murphy represented Three Village during the 23rd annual event and competed in two rounds as individuals and one round as a team. All four teams, which consisted of eighth- and ninth-grade students, were challenged to answer an array of math questions. The questions increased in difficulty, incorporating material from subjects such as algebra II and minor trigonometry.

As a team, Murphy students Reilly Browne, Kelsey Ge, Daniel Ma, Daniel Schwartz and Albert Tian placed fourth, and Eric Chiu, Keene Lu, Priya Mukhi, Darren Tung and Cliffton Woo placed fifth. Gelinas students Matthew Fiorella, William Sun, Ben Templeton, Alice Yang and Grant Yu placed second. Individually, Three Village swept the top four positions, with Ma placing fourth, Templeton placing third, Lu placing second and Yu taking the top spot. Fellow students Jessica Guo, Morgan Persky, Ryan Qin, Neil Shady and Rebecca Zhang also took part in the contest.

To prepare, the students studied material from previous competitions and participated in dedicated review sessions.

Set to Compete in Millrose Games

Ward Melville High School junior Hannah Hobbes and sophomores Allyson Gaedje, Samantha Rutt and Samantha Sturgess have qualified to compete in the Millrose Games at the Armory in New York City on Feb. 20. The 4x4 relay team earned their bid to compete with a second-place finish and a time of 4:01 in the Long Island qualifying race.

Parent Contact Information - Please make sure your contact information is up to date.

Parents, please make sure that your contact information is accurate in the Campus portal.  Log into the portal and check Household for your home phone number.  Also check"Family Members" for parent/guardian cell phone and e-mail address.  (The automated School Messenger system will contact the household, cell phone and e-mail address in case of a school-wide emergency.  The parent work phone is only used to contact a parent in case of an individual student emergency.)

Parents can request an update to the Family Member information inside Campus.  If you need a change to the household phone number, please contact the district registrar at 730-4555.

Pennies for Patients

Setauket Elementary School students and staff are working to make a difference in the lives of many as they embark on a Pennies for Patients fundraising drive this January.

The endeavor, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, hits home for the school community as one of their own – Kelly Anne Crovello – has been awarded the title of Honored Hero by the organization this year.

To jump-start their fundraising efforts, the school’s student council organized a kickoff assembly program with members of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Throughout the meeting, the individuals discussed blood-borne cancers in an age-appropriate manner and how important the fundraising campaign is to the organization.

During the event, members of the student council proudly announced that the school’s fundraising efforts were already off to a winning start, as the $547 received during the Concerned Dental Halloween candy buyback program was applied to this effort.

All donations received will be made in Kelly Anne’s honor.

Continuing Education Spring Brochure Now Available

The Spring 2016 Continuing Education brochure is available via this link.

Publishing Artistic Talents

An original drawing created by W.S. Mount Elementary School fifth-grader Melody Wang was selected as a winner of Kidsday’s 37th Annual Art Contest.

Melody’s piece, a drawing of a puppy, was judged by artists and reporters at Newsday and selected as a top entry in the animal category. Her artwork graced the pages of the Dec. 27 edition of Newsday/Kidsday.

Spotlighting Technology


Inside Award-Winning Research Projects

During the first week of January, five Ward Melville High School seniors were named semifinalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search competition.  Below is an overview of their award-winning submissions:

Eleni Aneziris was named for her work in the field of psychology titled “Effects of Predictability on the Startle Reflex in Anticipation of Emotionally-evocative Pictures.”
Summary of her work:
Preparing for future events is vital for survival, yet extreme sensitivity to threat can interfere with daily functioning and may indicate an anxiety disorder. I studied the impact of predictability on the startle reflex, a tool that measures emotional processing while anticipating emotional pictures. Ninety-five participants completed a fear conditioning paradigm in which neutral, pleasant and unpleasant pictures were presented with predictable or unpredictable timing. The increase in anxiety was greater during the unpredictable compared to the predictable timing trials with unpleasant pictures, and my results showed that abnormally high sensitivity to unpredictability may thus be the primary cause of anxiety disorders.

Sophia Chen was rewarded for her mathematics project “On Steady Super-Kähler Ricci Solitons.”
Summary of her work:
A manifold is a generalization of the idea of a curved surface in a higher dimension. I studied super
manifolds with some dimensions that aren’t described by ordinary numbers. One way of studying manifolds is to study how their shape changes with time. In particular, interesting manifolds are ones which evolve in such a way that their shape remains the same. I found examples of such manifolds when they have two super dimensions as well as two ordinary dimensions. I also proved the nonexistence of certain others in higher dimensions. These kinds of objects are interesting to mathematicians and physicists.

Ariel Leong worked in the field of bioinformatics and was noted for her project “Systematic Discovery of Genes and Networks in Colon Cancer Stem Cells Implicated in Chemoresistance.”
Summary of her work:
Colon cancer patients have a 91% survival rate when the cancer is detected early, but only 11% if it has metastasized. This is partly due to chemoresistance caused by cancer stem cells. The p53 gene is an extremely important tumor suppressor; it’s the most frequently mutated gene in human cancers. Tumors in which p53 is mutated or deleted are more virulent than those that have p53 intact. Thus the link between p53 and chemoresistance warranted investigation. I explored potential interactions between genes, and analyzed gene activity in two colon cancer non-stem cells and two colon cancer stem cells. I analyzed how p53 loss affected chemoresistant and non-chemoresistant colon cancer cells differently, and found potential p53 targets.

Harriet O’Brien was recognized for her work in the field of multiple sclerosis titled “The Characterization of Immunomodulatory and Remyelinating Agents on Microglial Polarization.”
Summary of her work:
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease in which the immune system degrades the protective covering of nerves. Upon neurological injury, microglia, the resident immune cells of the CNS, activate and polarize to one of two phenotypes: pro- or anti-inflammatory. Microglial polarization can be manipulated by drugs and is a promising target for the treatment of MS. I examined the effects of drug-mediated polarization with individual and combinatorial treatments and found the tested drugs to induce an anti-inflammatory shift. Further results may display the pathway through which one drug exerts this shift. The discovery of both as immunosuppressant agents is a step towards their reposition as treatments for neurological diseases such as MS.

Fangrui Tong completed a project in the field of nanomaterial science titled “A New Approach to Chemical Sensing Using Tunable Optical Properties of Unique Nanostructures of TiO2 Coated Morpho peleides Butterfly Scales.”
Summary of her work: Chemical sensors may be improved by the M. peleides butterfly, which gets its characteristic blue hue from the refraction of light by small nanostructures on its wing surfaces rather than from pigment. This mechanism allows the output color to be changed by an alteration of the structure, such as when chemical vapors are adsorbed onto the surface, adding a thin film that changes the way light refracts. We observed the ethanol responses of the nanostructures (when coated and uncoated with TiO2) by taking the spectra of the wing in varied concentrations of ethanol vapor in the UV-vis range. We concluded that the TiO2 coating did not negate the structure’s effects.

Administrator of the Year


Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Pedisich has been named Administrator of the Year by the New York State School Counselor Association. Ms. Pedisich, who was nominated for this honor by the district’s coordinating guidance chairperson, Linda Bergson, is the first superintendent to receive this award. She was presented with the honor during the district’s Jan. 13 Board of Education meeting.

The award was established to recognize a department, building or district leader who has provided outstanding support to the school counseling profession through development of the district’s comprehensive school counseling program or other program innovations. It acknowledges the demonstration of outstanding leadership, advocacy and collaboration in promoting equity and access for all students to rigorous educational opportunities.

“As someone who began her career as a school counselor, your support and understanding of the profession as superintendent of schools deserves recognition,” noted Dr. Barbara Donnellan, NYSSCA president, in her congratulatory letter. “Your advocacy for students, facilitation of difficult situations, and careful attention to the recent revision of your district school counseling program all contributed to your selection for this recognition.”

In her nomination letter, Ms. Bergson highlighted Ms. Pedisich’s caring and detailed approach to education: “Ms. Pedisich’s style of leadership has always been one of collaboration and respect for others. She is always a professional, a wonderful listener, and if she asks you to do something, she will always offer to help you accomplish it.” Ms. Bergson went on to explain Ms. Pedisich’s role in the lengthy process to update the district’s guidance plan and overhaul the grading policy from an alphabetical to a numerical system.

“We realized how fortunate we are to have a truly outstanding educational leader, and it is really wonderful when an outside group affirms our view of the superintendent and the outstanding leadership that she is providing,” commented Board of Education President William F. Connors Jr.  

“Tonight is very special for a number of reasons – not only for this wonderful and most appreciated honor, but because it is coming from an organization that represents my origins as an educator,” said Ms. Pedisich. “When I reflect back on my career, I have to say, without a doubt, that those first years were the most intrinsically rewarding for me; they meant a great deal to me. Those years set in motion a career in education in a place I have come to value, respect and now view as a family. I would not be in this position or the educator I am, if not for this place and the people with whom I have worked.”

Ms. Pedisich began her career in the district in September 1984 as a school guidance counselor. Throughout her tenure in Three Village, she has served as a chairperson of the Ward Melville High School Guidance Department, as well as the assistant director and the executive director of pupil personnel services, before becoming an assistant superintendent and, ultimately, the superintendent of the district.

Spellers Showcase Skills

Students at R.C. Murphy Junior High School and Setauket and W.S. Mount elementary schools showcased their linguistic skills this winter by participating in school spelling bees. 

After winning their classroom bees, the students competed in the schoolwide contests. Each contestant took turns spelling difficult words as they battled for several rounds for the chance to earn the title of top speller. 

Jonathan Huang was named the winner at Murphy with the word “molasses,” Ryan Himmelsbach was named the winner at Setauket with “secession” and Daphna Fineberg was named the winner at Mount with “migraine.” 

The school spelling champs will now compete in the Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee at Hofstra University in March.
P.J. Gelinas Junior High School will host a school bee at the end of January.

Cheery Performances

W.S. Mount Elementary School’s wind ensemble and chamber orchestra traveled to the Long Island State Veterans Home to spread holiday cheer.
The half-hour musical program was followed by a meet and greet with residents, where students gave cards and pictures from the Mount Art Club to the residents. The students found it to be an unforgettable experience and a heartwarming way to beginning the winter break.

NYS Comptroller’s Report

Click Here

Student Pieces in Print

Original written pieces created by Minnesauke Elementary School sixth-graders in Paul Wilgenkamp’s class began appearing in Newsday  the week of Jan. 10 . Below are links to some of the items.

Alumnus Returns

Ward Melville High School alumnus Captain Christopher Day (Class of 2007) returned to his alma mater to speak with current students about his life after high school.

His discussion included life at West Point Military Academy, milestones of his Army career so far, and his experiences in working with the people of Afghanistan. Touching on culture and kindness, he gave a PowerPoint presentation and discussed cultural differences. Students asked various questions, including when he knew he wanted to join the military and how difficult it was to get into West Point.

Debaters Take on Tough Competition

Ward Melville High School’s Debate Team put the Patriots on the local circuit map with a strong showing in the Long Island Forensic League’s All Debate Tournament at Syosset High School. 

In only their second tournament, sophomore pair George Boukas and Ivan Viro captured seventh-place trophies out of 35 entries in Novice Public Forum, winning three out of four rounds with high marks for arguing the resolution “On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States.” Sophomores Kathleen Esfahany and Michael Lu placed 14th with three wins out of four rounds. Pairs Serena Liu and Brendan Berscak and Matthew Okrent and Tim Sadov won two rounds each.  

Team co-presidents Emily Xu and William Jin participated in the Junior Varsity Lincoln Douglas category, arguing the resolution “In the United States criminal justice system, jury nullification ought to be used in the face of perceived injustice.” Emily Xu moved up significantly on the roster from November’s tournament, and junior Umaimah Nawaz participated as a first-time debater in Lincoln Douglas.    

New Technology Specialist Welcomed

The district has appointed Laura Pimentel as the new assistant director of instructional technology and data/test coordinator.

Since September 2008, Ms. Pimentel has been an integral member of the district’s staff, serving as the lead teacher for data and assessment. In that role, she served two years as a summer reading program teacher, co-taught in integrated instruction to varied level Spanish classes to differentiate instruction, and implemented multiple technological resources into Spanish classrooms to not only aid instruction, but also enhance student comprehension. She also utilized a variety of Web-based management systems to organize and present data to administrators, teachers and the community, as well as to provide training to professionals on the use of programs such as My Learning Plan, Microsoft Excel and different scanning products.

Prior to her work in the district, Ms. Pimentel was a shared data expert at Eastern Suffolk BOCES and a special education teacher in Honolulu, Hawaii.
She is the previous recipient of the New York State Council of School Superintendents’ Dr. Mary Barter Scholarship, the ASSET Teacher Recognition Award and a MESTRACT grant award. Ms. Pimentel has served on many committees and boards throughout her professional career, including several district-based organizations.

Rolling Up Culinary Delicacies

 R.C. Murphy Junior High School ninth-graders in Emma Domino’s International Foods class had the chance to learn about the intricate process of making sushi when Satoko Mathews, a chef from Suffolk Community Culinary College, visited.
During the demonstration, the presenter explained the importance of preparing the sushi rice so it will have the correct stickiness to adhere to the seaweed paper. She also instructed the class on how to prepare the vegetables by cutting them into matchstick-sized pieces to fit into the rolls.

The class was pleasantly surprised to learn how easy the sushi was to prepare and how delicious and healthy California rolls are to eat.

Gracing Cover to Spotlight Technology

A three-dimensionally printed replica of her own image earned W.S. Mount Elementary School fourth-grader Madison Esposito a feature and cover photo on the Dec. 7 edition of the nationally read Scholastic News magazine.

The feature describes Madison’s interest in 3-D printing, how these devices are used in personal, professional and medical settings, and how her replica was produced at the DOOB 3D store in New York City.

“I was so excited to have made my ‘mini-me’ and be included in Scholastic News,” said Madison. “It is something I will always remember.”

Madison’s experience not only sparked interest from her peers, but also served as the foundation for a class discussion on the growing technology. The class read Madison’s feature, titled “Me in 3D,” and discussed how a 3-D printer differs from a regular printer and the innovative ways in which this technology is being used.

Sunday, February 07, 2016   |  District Home