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Students Engage with Grammy Award Performers

Students Engage with Grammy Award Performers photo
Port Jefferson music-students and their families had an opportunity to attend a concert by the renowned, two-time Grammy award winning Turtle Island Quartet. Their musical performance “The Art of the Groove” was recently performed at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center.

The tickets were provided courtesy of Staller Center Outreach Endowment as a continuation of a partnership between music teacher Dr. Vanessa Salzman and Paul Newland, outreach coordinator at Stony Brook University.

The quartet performed several works for the students including an original composition by founding member David Balakrishnan, and an arrangement of the Jimi Hendrix version of “All Around the Watchtower,” a song written by Bob Dylan.

Each member of the quartet spoke to the audience and introduced a different technique in their playing and shared their backgrounds in music. Topics discussed included the elements of vibrato, plucking techniques and the difference between the viola and violin. The also shared the use of improvisation in their performances and the “chop” – a percussive technique that provides rhythm and groove – in their playing which makes up for the fact there are no drummers in their ensemble.

The students also enjoyed a tour of the Paul W. Zuccaire Art Gallery with gallery director Karen Levitov.

Math Educators Honored by BOE

The mid-March Board of Education meeting, which took place right before the internationally recognized Pi Day (March 14), was an opportune time for Port Jefferson math educators to be recognized.

Port Jefferson Middle School Principal Dr. Robert Neidig commended the work of teachers Melissa Corey, Matthew Garofola, Megan Ryan and Jamie Veraldi for their tireless and innovative efforts in teaching students about the complex mathematical world around them and help to meet the challenges with success.

“These four educators have devoted their lives to helping students come to the realization that not only can they can do math, but they can do it well,” Dr. Neidig said as he and the Board thanked and congratulated them for their efforts in forwarding the goals of the middle school math program.

The district extends a thank you to all the math teachers for continuing to help students achieve through classroom studies and problem-solving as well as challenging them to compete in regional competitions.

International Club Raises Money for Humanitarian Organization

International Club Raises Money for Humanitarian Organization photo
Students in the International Club set out to raise funds for the humanitarian organization Plan International. With advisers English as a Second Language teacher Jennifer Walling and French teacher Heather Marshak, they came up with a fun way to help a child while also promoting school spirit.

Students in the club encouraged classmates to purchase a strip of tape and to be able to help tape middle school guidance counselor Keith Buehler to a wall.

They raised $125 and will sponsor a child from Haiti. They will be writing to the child in French and are planning to send gifts and cards throughout the school year.

“The event truly created some great school spirit,” Ms. Walling said.

Science Olympiad Team Places at State Competition

Science Olympiad Team Places at State Competition photo
The Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Science Olympiad team competed in the New York State Science Olympiad against the best teams across the state at Le Moyne College in Syracuse this past weekend. They were one of only six teams from Long Island in the competition.

Accompanied by advisers and science teachers Amanda Brideson and Adam Bouchard and chaperones Danny Holland and Nicole Sklar, the team came in 25th place out of a total of 56 teams and came home with three medals.

Sinan Ates, Chloe Andriani and Peggy Yin placed third in the Protein Modeling category; Grant Samara and Aaron Held placed fifth in the Fossils category and Reid Biondo and Aaron Held also placed fifth in the Water Quality category.

“We are extremely proud and impressed with all of the hard work our entire team has put in this year in our STEM science events,” said Ms. Brideson. “Their hard work and dedication to the Science Olympiad team shows through their awards and standings,” added Mr. Bouchard.

The district congratulates all the members of the team who continue to refine their skills for competition and future careers: seniors Chloe Andriani, Gavin Barrett, Reid Biondo, Ju Eun Ha, Eadan McSweeney, David Rotunno and Christine Scott; juniors Sinan Ates, Gavin Chambers, Kyle Onghai, Dylan Scott and Gil Zaltsman; and sophomores Gani Ates, Liam Gameng Aaron Held, Grant Samara and Peggy Yin.

Port Jefferson Hosts County Music Festival


Earl L. Vandermeulen High School was the site of the recent Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association’s Division 1 East All-County Festival.

More than 400 Suffolk County music students in grades 5 and 6 participated in the festival, performing in band, chorus and orchestra. During the event, Port Jefferson music faculty and student volunteers from the Tri-M Music Honor Society assisted with rehearsals, auditions, ticket/food sales and guiding visitors through the building.

“We congratulate our students, music teachers, custodial and security staff for helping to make a memorable music experience for so many of our county musicians and teachers,” said Dr. Michael Caravello, the district’s director of music and fine arts.

Upcoming Grades 3-8 New York State Assessment Information

Port Jefferson Students Learn To Be Upstanders

Port Jefferson Students Learn To Be Upstanders photo
With a powerful message to be upstanders and not bystanders, Port Jefferson middle school and high school students took part in Sandy Hook Promise’s national Call-to-Action Week.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. and two deputy sheriffs visited the school for “Say Something,” two assemblies that provided students with information on how they can help the school and community by being aware of warning signs and threats, especially in social media, of individuals who may intend harm to themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult to get help.

With actual quotes taken from social media accounts and video reenactments of possible tragedies, the students learned some key skills to prevent them. They then joined together to read aloud a pledge projected on the screen to help create healthier schools, homes and communities.

Deputy Sheriff Brian Butler addressed the high school students and Deputy Sherriff Keith Hoffman addressed the middle school students and both reiterated the fact that each student has more power to prevent life-threatening incidents than either of them do, as many people learn about threats via social media.

“We definitely learned that we have the power to help,” said sixth-grader Braden Snow.

The two assemblies were followed by question-and-answer sessions, an additional way to engage the students with the importance of law enforcement.

“This impressive assembly empowered students and reminded them of the important role they have when it comes to school safety,” Port Jefferson Middle School Principal Dr. Robert Neidig said.

All-County Honors!

The Port Jefferson Royals entered the Section XI county wrestling tournament at Center Moriches High School on a mission. The mission was simple: Be relentless in the pursuit of victory. No matter the circumstance or score, the Royal wrestlers never quit.

Their perseverance paid off.

Seven wrestlers from PJ Nation finished the tournament with All-County honors.

Seniors Harry Cona, Rick D’Elia, Ryan Robertson and Brendan Rogers, juniors Lucas Rohman and Anthony D’Elia, and freshman Anthony Evangelista all finished near the top of their weight classes.

“Having one-third of your team finish as the top wrestlers in the county says a lot about the dedication, discipline and desire our wrestlers and coaches put forth on a daily basis,” Athletic Director Adam Sherrard said.

Rick D’Elia also placed first at the county meet at 113 lbs. and qualified for the New York State wrestling championships, in which he finished fourth overall.

Update on the Superintendent Search 3.14.19

The Board of Education continues to be actively engaged in the process of hiring the next Superintendent of Schools for Port Jefferson. Several rounds of interviews have already been conducted, with the priorities identified by our school district community providing the foundation for these interviews.

A comprehensive selection process is being followed and is nearing completion. The Board is confident that our April target, set for the appointment of our new Superintendent, will be met.

Please know that the members of the Board of Education take this responsibility with extreme seriousness and have spent many hours in pursuit of the person who best meets the considerable criteria set as the new leader of the Port Jefferson School District. We thank the community for your input and support.

Music Students Selected for SCMEA All-County Festival

Music Students Selected for SCMEA All-County Festival photo
Forty Port Jefferson School District music students were selected to participate in this year’s Suffolk County Music Educators Association All-County Festival.

Students from Edna Louise Spear Elementary School and Port Jefferson Middle School who were selected to perform in Division I with other fifth- and sixth-graders are Emma Batter, Kieran Casey, Rowan Casey, Isabelle Chen, Caitlin Dickhuth, Mari Fukuto, Marija Garue, William Harris, Kevin Hong, Ana Kelly, Meara Kelly, Madison Testa, Breyden Horstman, Hailey Johansen, Vivian O’Brian, Marco Puopolo, Samantha Reichers, Sadie Salzman, Maya Shand, Jack Snyder, Isabella Thomsen, Gianna Viviano, Devon Welsch and Cassidy Worrell.

Students Alexa Ayotte, Sophie Blumenthal, Luke Dickhuth, Kenneth Dixon-Lanza, Alexa Eichinger, Viviane Kim, Nathanial Lawler, Chloe Pipia, Ruby Ray, Anna Rebic, Tabitha Schully and Matthew Wengatz were selected to perform in Division II with other seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Students in grades 9 and 10 who performed in Division III are David Lawler, Jack Reilly, Nicole Schully and Sierra Welsch.

All three divisions took part in three days of rehearsals with a final performance at Southampton High School on March 10.

“We congratulate all of these students on this exceptional achievement,” said Dr. Michael Caravello.

A Plus for Senior Math Scholar

A Plus for Senior Math Scholar photo
Congratulations to senior Tianna Couch who was selected as a Dr. Jong-Pil Lee Scholarship recipient from the Long Island Mathematics Conference Board. She will be presented with a $1,500 scholarship at the introductory ceremonies for the Long Island Mathematics Conference on March 15 at the SUNY College at Old Westbury.

Citing math and statistics as favorite subjects to study, Tianna’s successful high school career is varied and interesting. She has taken numerous Advanced Placement courses, is a member of both the cross-country and track teams, is involved in student government, the Environmental Club and numerous STEM initiatives, and is a member of the National Honor Society. In addition, Tianna took a Python programming course through the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University and attended the University of Connecticut precollege summer program. She is involved in Girl Scouts, held a position as an intern in a Port Jefferson Village law office, babysits, works in a local shop as a cashier and takes part in community service activities through the high school’s Student Organization.

Tianna describes lessons she has learned from high school math teachers Christine Morgan and Dennis Christofor that have set her on a path to study statistics or data science in college.

“I learned from Mr. Christofor that you need to work hard to do well in math. This helped me gain confidence in my abilities,” she said. In Ms. Morgan’s class, she realized that there is more than one way to look at even the easiest problem. “I also learned that if you love something and work hard, success will follow.”

Seventh-grader Shares Musical Talents on University Stage

kim photo
Port Jefferson Middle School music student Viviane Kim was featured as a piano soloist with the Stony Brook University orchestra at the family orchestra concert on March 5. Viviane was selected as the winner of the university’s Young Artist Program Concerto competition this year.

A seventh-grader, Viviane had the opportunity to enhance her public musical performance skills on the Staller Center’s main stage alongside dozens of the university’s orchestra members. The theme of the concert was Dance in Orchestra, and among those in the audience were Viviane’s proud parents as well as students and faculty members from the Port Jefferson School District.

Students Investigate Long Island’s Watershed

Students Investigate Long Island’s Watershed photo
Students in Janelle Bellotti's sixth-grade science class had a hands-on opportunity to learn about Long Island’s watershed and non-point source pollution when Tracy Marcus, a marine youth education specialist from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, visited them. Funded by Port Jefferson Village as part of the storm water management program, the goal was to teach the class about the local watershed, what a storm drain is and its importance, and how water pollution affects local marine life. The students discovered ways to help prevent pollution from entering the local watershed by building a small model of a storm drain to demonstrate where water goes during a rainstorm, creating pollution using water and food coloring. They then executed how the water enters the drain and discussed the impact of it along with ways to prevent it. The students then took this information and did some stormwater detective work, investigating and solving the mystery of why a fish kill happened. They learned that fish kills occur in natural populations because of disease, poor water quality or toxins and when they tested a water sample they discovered it was a high level of nitrates, which were found to be at 50 ppm (parts per million). In addition to gaining the ability to look at a problem posed to them, investigate it and collect evidence to formulate their conclusion, “the students really enjoyed this program and had a lot of fun,” Ms. Bellotti said.

Spotlight on Long Island Schools

Spotlight on Long Island Schools photo
Fifteen students were interviewed by Long Island News Radio host Bob Vecchio for the Spotlight on Long Island Schools radio program. This is the second radio program that the district has taken part in this academic year.

High School students Reid Biondo, Jonathan Cadicamo, Mattea Rabeno and Giuseppina Than spoke about the successes of the school’s STEM program and Reid joined Chloe Andriani, Ameen Khan and Emmett Maier in a conversation about the school’s numerous opportunities for students to develop leadership skills. Eighth-graders Alexa Ayotte Kacey McGorry Tabitha Schully and Amy Whitman were accompanied by Principal Dr. Robert Neidig and shared their commitment to the school and community through their work in student government.

The question-and-answer format, 30-minute show also included middle school students Teppei Fukuto, Jonah Pflaster, Riley Perrotta and Matthew Riccobono who spoke about how they think like scientists and engineers with their LEGO League challenges
along with technology teacher and adviser Kyle Dunlop.

To hear more about the accomplishments and activities of these students, tune in to Long Island News Radio 103.9 FM on Saturday, March 9 and Saturday, March 16, both at 10:30 a.m.

Middle School Musicians Perform at Art Auction

Middle School Musicians Perform at Art Auction photo
Ten members of the middle school string chamber ensemble performed at an art auction hosted by The Royal Educational Foundation at the Old Field Club in Setauket on March 1.

Attendees enjoyed light classical works by the student-musicians during the preview session of the auction. The musical performance of Alexa Ayotte, Teppei Fukuto, Gavin Onghai, Kay Ranjbar, Ruby Ray, Anna Rebic, Alana Samara, Olivia Schlegel, Tabitha Schully and Nicholas Smirnov added to the festive fundraising event.

The Royal Educational Foundation’s mission includes facilitating student development in the Port Jefferson School District by encouraging excellence through creative learning as well as providing funds for learning activities which supplement, complement and augment the basic educational program.

“We congratulate the students for taking part in this special fundraiser in support of innovative and creative programming in the Port Jefferson School District,” said Dr. Michael Caravello, the district’s director of music and fine arts.

Elementary Students Celebrate Read Across America Day

Elementary Students Celebrate Read Across America Day photo
Elementary Students Celebrate Read Across America Day photo 2
Elementary Students Celebrate Read Across America Day photo 3
Edna Louise Spear Elementary School students joined thousands of schools nationwide to celebrate the birthday of renowned author Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day.

To plan for the annual celebration, school librarian Selinda Stout encouraged students at all grade levels to share their favorite book with their peers.

Twenty-eight students were assigned as these special guest readers and to honor the author, many dressed in stripes, crazy hats and striped socks.

I was happily overwhelmed with the number of students who wanted to participate,” said Ms. Stout. “They did a fabulous job reading to their peers, which is not an easy thing to do. I was proud of all of them!”

The Dr. Seuss theme was carried out in the decorated library and adults dressed as The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch made several appearances throughout the day. Numerous local businesses contributed to the celebration including red and white balloons donated by Party Hardy and a large decorated Dr. Seuss-inspired sheet cake for the entire school staff donated by local bakery La Bonne Boulangerie. Ms. Stout also held a raffle with prizes including ice cream from Kilwin’s and the Frigate and gift certificates to Port Jeff Bowl, Applebee’s and Panera Bread.

Great Job!


The Middle School Science Olympiad team placed third at the Suffolk County Regional Division B Science Olympiad Competition. This success qualifies the team to compete at the New York State level, which will take place in early April at East Syracuse Minoa High School in Syracuse, NY.

Students from grades 6-9 competed against 35 teams in events which tested their skills in earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and scientific problem-solving. Coached by Middle School science teacher Adam Bouchard, the team received medals in 20 of 22 events.
“The hours of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm that these students demonstrate exemplifies their knowledge of inquiry-based learning,” Port Jefferson Middle School Principal Dr. Robert Neidig said. “As a coach and a teacher, Mr. Bouchard continues to motivate his students to develop the skills to think like scientists and gain a natural curiosity into scientific perspectives.”

Congratulations to all the Medal Winners!

First Place, Elastic Launched Glider - Andrew Patterson and Stefano Rabeno
First Place, Fossils - Alana Samara and Andrew Patterson
Second Place, Circuit Lab - Michael Melikyan and Max Paulus
Second Place, Meteorology - Ben Perez-Flesler and Jonah Pflaster
Second Place, Science Quiz Bowl - Hugo Onghai, Andrew Patterson and William Wu
Fourth Place, Elastic Launched Glider - Pratham Sethia and Ryan Gameng
Fourth Place, Game On - Hugo Onghai and William Wu
Fourth Place, Potions and Poisons - Hugo Onghai and Kasumi Layne-Stasik
Fifth Place, Dynamic Planet - William Wu and Riley Perrotta
Fifth Place, Herpetology - Andrew Patterson and Kasumi Layne-Stasik
Fifth Place, Roller Coaster - Teppei Fukuto and Riley Perrotta
Fifth Place, Write It Do It - Pratham Sethia and Nicholas Smirnov
Sixth Place, Anatomy - William Wu and Ben Perez-Flesler
Sixth Place, Crime Busters - Alana Samara and Michelle Wu
Seventh Place, Disease Detectives - Hugo Onghai and Andrew Patterson
Eighth Place, Battery Buggy - Michael Melikyan and Max Paulus
Eighth Place, Circuit Lab - Ryan Gameng and Eric Chen
Eighth Place, Density Lab - Teppei Fukuto and Stefan Rabeno
Eighth Place, Heredity - Ben Perez-Flesler and Kasumi Layne-Stasik
Sixth Place, Water Quality - Alana Samara and Michelle Wu

Salt, Sun, Spartina & Seaweed at Spear

Salt, Sun, Spartina & Seaweed at Spear photo
A science lesson in Amy Castaldo’s third-grade class took a creative turn when students put together dioramas that included many native plants in salt marshes that they were learning about. As they learned about the importance of salt marsh ecosystems and the benefits they provide to both humans and the environment, they discovered the distinct zones of vegetation determined by elevation and how they shield land from coastal storms. They were also taught many new vocabulary words including phragmites, photosynthesis and intertidal as well as many of the plants such as purple plume, glasswort and sea lavender that they used to dot the shoreline of their dioramas while seaweed seemed to float in the water on many of their projects.

Annalisa Welinder Advances to National Merit Finalist Round

Annalisa Welinder Advances to National Merit Finalist Round photo
Congratulations to senior Annalisa Welinder who has advanced to the Finalist standing in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Annalisa took the qualifying test as a junior and is now among approximately 15,000 high school students nationwide who were awarded the distinction. In the next several months approximately half of those students will be selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award, which is based on their abilities, skills and achievements.

An accomplished and well-rounded student, Annalisa excels in academics, music and athletics. Her Finalist designation exemplifies our school district’s high level of student achievement and academically rigorous program for all students.

National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in the spring.

Six Honored for Contributions to Athletic Program

Six members of the Port Jefferson School District community were honored at the Feb. 28 Board of Education meeting for their dedication and contributions to the district’s athletic department.

Athletic Director Adam Sherrard addressed the Board of Education and commended administrative assistant Cathy Hoffman, athletic trainer Eric Fells and groundskeeper Rich Lautato for their self-motivated and tireless efforts in being sure all activities, games and events through the department are properly put in place. Also honored were students Reid Biondo and Mattea Rabeno and teacher Dawn DeLeonardis for their commitment and initiatives in sharing the mindfulness program to the school community.

After the recognition, Mr. Sherrard shared with the Board updates on the district’s Wellness Policy including positive effects of exercise on the body, data on the vending machines’ healthier offerings and approvals for more creative fundraising ideas that sell nutritious foods and drinks and encourage more physical activities.

Under the Sea at Spear!

Under the Sea at Spear photo
When students in Kari Costanzo’s fifth-grade class started their Living Systems science curriculum, the opportunity to investigate starlet sea anemones came to life when they worked with two scientific educators who also happen to be parents to a student in the class.

Dr. Gerald Thomsen, a professor in Stony Brook University’s Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and Julia Tudorov-Thomsen, a biologist and marine scientist, (and parents of Isabela) conducted a lab experiment with the students, in which they observed the anemones eat marine life and then cut a piece of them to investigate the regeneration process.

The students recorded their observations in a sketch pad, and Dr. Thomsen returned a week later to check out their investigative findings. As Mrs. Costanzo guided the students in what they could record, how they anemones changed shapes during the experiment and asked each of them to present and explain their findings, she recognized that their curiosity was peeked and their enthusiasm for the unit was compounded by the professional visits.

“They all had great questions about how anemones can regenerate while other organisms cannot,” Mrs. Costanzo said and as Dr. Thomsen pointed out – for scientific investigation, there are no right or wrong answers. “As we document our work and share our research, it’s just a cool thing to show off,” he said.

March Board Meeting Notice


Notification Service Now Available for All School District Residents

Dear Resident of the Port Jefferson School District:

The Port Jefferson School District uses a communication service called SchoolMessenger, to communicate regularly via email and recorded phone messages, to residents who have children attending our school district.

We are pleased to announce that all residents of the school district will now have the same opportunity to receive school messages. The school district has contracted with West Corporation, the provider of SchoolMessenger Solutions, to implement a program called Communicate providing this same service to all district residents.

In order to accurately deliver this service to residents without children attending our school district, we need your assistance. If you would like to receive school district messages, we kindly request that you create your own contact preference profile using our school district’s subscriber website for Communicate. This will enable you to control the ways in which you prefer to be contacted. It also works like a mailbox, giving you a place to review messages that you may have missed.

In order to utilize this feature, simply follow the steps below to create an account through this secure website.

For additional information, please call Kathy Hanley at 631-791-4221.

Steps for setting up your account:

1. Enter the following URL into your web browser:

2. Click the Sign Up Now link near the bottom of the page.

3. You will be taken to the Sign Up page where you will need to confirm the encrypted image, your name, a valid email address and a password. You’ll use your email address and the password you entered to access your account. Review and accept the Terms of Service. Click Create Account when you are done. (Note: West Corporation has a strict privacy policy and does not sell or distribute your contact information to any third-party organizations.)

4. Check your email. You should receive an account activation email from with the subject “Account Activation.” Follow the directions to activate your account - activation codes are valid for 24 hours. Next, click on the link which takes you to a confirmation page. You must enter your password in order to activate your account. (Note: Do not reply to this email directly – you only need to follow the directions).

5. Once your account is activated, you’re ready to select your notification preferences.

6. Simply select the type(s) of notifications you wish to receive and the groups to which you belong.

7. When you have finished making selections, click Save.

8. Follow the instructions to add additional contact information to your account, ie. additional emails, phone numbers, etc.

Please know that you will need to reactivate your account each school year.

We hope you enjoy Communicate and take advantage of this opportunity to stay connected to our school community.

Summer Music Camp




The March 26, 2019 work session meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education has been changed to a special meeting to be held at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School at 7:30 PM. Call to order will be at 6:00 PM at the District Office for the purpose of entering into executive session to discuss personnel and legal matters.

A Little Night Music!

Tri-M Honor
Students from the high school Tri-M music honor society hosted their annual Cabaret Night on Feb. 13. Led by Tri-M adviser Christine Creighton, attendees were seated at tables and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and desserts while being entertained by the student-musicians who performed a wide variety of musical selections. The event served as a fundraiser for the Tri-M music honor society’s annual scholarship.

Thanks to our talented performers Katie Ambrozy, Cole Fortier, Lane Lofaso, Chris Parsick, Mattea Rabeno, Ava Schully, Pina Than, Jack Worrell and Peggy Yin. Thanks also to the Tri-M Executive Board members for their efforts in bringing joyful sounds to our school community: co-presidents Cole Fortier & Ava Schully; vice president Grace Crugnale; secretary Olivia Weldon; treasurer Katie Ambrozy and community liaison Ju-Eun Ha.

Missing Mitten Prompts Generous Gesture

Fifth-grader Catherine Poten was on safety patrol duty – a leadership program in which older students escort kindergartners from their bus to their classroom – when she noticed her charge was visibly upset.

“I asked her what was wrong and she said she lost her mitten,” Catherine said.

Catherine tried to keep her calm by asking her favorite color – pink – and then brought her to her classroom. When Catherine went home that day, she told her parents what had happened and her dad took her to the store to get the child a new pair of mittens. “Kindness comes from our hearts,” Catherine said, before adding that the little girl wears the new mittens almost every day.

Students Explore Iconic Works of Art

art photo
Students from Edna Louise Spear Elementary School’s fifth-grade art club visited the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at SUNY Stony Brook's Staller Center to view the “Iconicity” exhibit. The trip was an opportunity for them to expand on their classroom and art club creativity and lessons. They were accompanied by art teachers Richard Anderson and Meghan McCarthy.

During the visit, Karen Levitov, director and curator for the gallery, spoke with the students about the techniques and inspiration behind the artists’ works before they engaged in several hands-on activities.

Third-grade Wordplay

Nice, Intelligent, Noticeable and Awesome for Nina. Loyal, Understanding, Kind and Entertaining for Luke. Joyful, Outgoing, Silly, Entertaining, Peaceful and Helpful for Joseph.

Those were just some of the words students in Rachel Erickson’s third-grade class used as they took a creative step in identifying themselves. The class produced acrostic poems with adjectives that spelled out their name along with magazine pictures or printed emojis to decorate a bulletin board outside their classroom.

Dash’s Lego Challenge

back to school image

To coincide with the robotics and computer programming unit and new STEAM program in the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School library, fourth- and fifth-graders were presented with a challenge: to create and build a structure with Legos that represented a book.

The students realized that it wasn’t going to be so easy.

Their engineering skills came into play when they built the structure, mounted it on the Dash robot’s head, then coded it with movement, sound and lights, while being sure the structure stayed attached the entire time. The coding had to relate to the structure and the book (for example a car book had to have sounds and movement related to automobiles). After the students completed their assignment, they presented their structure and coding to the class.

“I was thrilled with their work ethic and enthusiasm for the challenge,” school librarian Selinda Stout said. “They used their imagination and their coding skills to present such cool, animated robots! I am so proud of my students.”

Celebrating Pre-K

Students in Susan Giglio’s pre-K class at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School celebrated the 100th day of school by dressing up as 100-year old ladies and gentlemen. In their classroom, they walked and counted 100 steps and stepped through a large paper number 100. After creating paper crowns and capes, their lessons consisted of counting and collaborating in STEM activities including making blocks and domino structures.

American Imperialism on Trial

American Imperialism on Trial photo
Port Jefferson Middle School eighth-graders took their classroom lessons to another level when they teamed up to create a mock trial about American Imperialism. After learning about the political, economic and cultural influences of the country, the students in Kayleen Everitt’s and Dr. Tara Sladek-Maharg’s English and social studies classes, respectively, represented the prosecution against Imperialism and spoke as witnesses to the trial as representatives of Latin America. The English class served as the jury and gallery. While the jury deliberated at the end and decided the trial, the gallery’s role was to evaluate each representing side’s use of the ethical strategies of ethos, pathos and logos.

Motivated by Music at Long Island String Festival

Motivated by Music at Long Island String Festival photo

Eleven Port Jefferson elementary and middle school string students in grades 5-8were selected to perform in the Intermediate Long Island String Festival on Jan. 27 at Hauppauge High School. Students were selected along with others from across Suffolk County on a competitive basis with New York State School Music Association scores as the main criteria along with teacher recommendations.

The district congratulates fifth-graders Mari Fukuto and Sadie Salzman; sixth-graders Caitlin Dickhuth, Ana Kelly, Meara Kelly and Vivian O' Brian; seventh-grader Anna Rebic; and eighth-graders Alexa Ayotte, Teppei Fukuto, Olivia Schlegel and Tabitha Schully for their hard work and musical participation!

Chelsea Gallery Showing for Port Jeff Educator’s Art

Port Jefferson Middle School/High School art teacher Stacey Schuman, a conservatory trained visual artist and instructor for 18 years in Port Jefferson schools, will showcase her work at the Atlantic Gallery in the Landmark Arts Building in Manhattan’s Chelsea gallery district. The show is Escape/ism and her painting is titled Bulbs. Her piece is part of a juried group exhibit that will run from Feb. 19 through March 9 with an opening reception on Feb. 21. Schuman has exhibited her work both locally and in New York City.

100th Victory for Rick D’Elia

To be a wrestler takes a different level of dedication. Early morning runs, balancing a social life in order to train, staying in shape and competing are just a few things that Port Jefferson senior Rick D’Elia has done every winter since he began wrestling for Port Jefferson as a seventh-grader. The dedication, discipline and desire he demonstrates each day are helping him reach his goal of being the best he can be.

All of this hard work has paid off for Rick as he is a three-time Suffolk County finalist, two-time Suffolk County champion and one of only 13 wrestlers in the history of Port Jefferson to win more than 100 matches.

“Winning 100 matches is an awesome achievement,” coach Mike Maletta said. “It takes consistency. In wresting, as in life, you must show up and compete every day. Rick has done that at such a high level for the past four years.”

Read more about Rick and his brother and teammate Anthony here:

A Night on Broadway

A Night on Broadway photo
For an opportunity to experience a world-renowned theatrical performance, members of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Drama Club attended Come from Away, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Based on the true story of thousands of travelers stranded in Canada after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the students along with their drama club director Tony Butera, observed the stage acts of kindness of humanity during this dark time.

Airing their Accomplishments

Airing their Accomplishments photo
Eight Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students shared stories of their academic, athletic and community service accomplishments and activities when they were guests on the Spotlight on Long Island Schools show on LI News Radio.

Hosted by Robert Vecchio, the question-and-answer format, 30-minute show highlighted the varied accomplishments of students Cole Fortier, Peyton Ginas, Shane Hartig, Emily Hearney, Kate Sommerstad, Kyra Sommerstad, Annalisa Welinder and Lucas Welinder. They were joined by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano, High School Principal Christine Austen and English teacher Michael Augello.

Tune in to LI News Radio 103.9 FM to hear their impressive stories of balancing academics and other achievements on Saturday, February 9, at 10:30 a.m.

Superintendent Search Update 2/5/19

The Port Jefferson Board of Education has been very active in its search for the next Superintendent of Schools. The Board has contracted with Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to assist with the search and selection process.

As of this date, a number of steps have been completed: a recruitment brochure and advertisements were developed and distributed; interested parties were sent packets which included an application; and employees and community members were asked for input on the desired qualities of the next Superintendent.

Applicants were prescreened by Eastern Suffolk BOCES and completed applications were forwarded to the Board to review. This week, the Board of Education will begin interviewing candidates they have selected from the initial screening.

The Board of Education is grateful to the school community for participating in the survey and community forum and for providing such valuable input for the Board to consider in the selection process.

View the results of the community survey below.

Thank you for your continued interest and support.


Draft 2019-20 School District Budget Based on Town/LIPA Settlement

The Port Jefferson School District presented the first draft of the 2019-20 school budget, which is the first school budget in the post Town of Brookhaven and Long Island Power Authority property tax reassessment settlement. Presentations were made at the January 22 Board of Education Work Session and the January 24 School-Community Connection session (see attachments). Additional presentations and discussions will be held throughout the budget development process.

Through meetings, emails, letters, and phone calls with Brookhaven Town officials, school leaders learned how the details of the Town’s settlement would impact the school district. The Town of Brookhaven and LIPA property tax reassessment settlement represents a 50 percent reduction in the Port Jefferson’s main power plant’s assessment over a nine-year glide path beginning in 2018-19. As a result, 2019-20 represents the first and second years for the district and a six percent reduction in LIPA’s assessment.

The first draft of the school budget stays within the estimated tax levy cap. It represents one of the lowest increases in the property tax levy since the tax levy cap was enacted in the 2013-14 school year. The estimated cap for the 2019-20 school year is 1.18 percent. The draft budget represents a budget reduction of approximately -$230,000.

Information about the targeted reductions will be shared as we progress through budget development. The district is prepared for the challenge of scrutinizing discretionary spending as we continue to provide an outstanding educational program for students.


District Hosts Mid-Island Band Festival

District Hosts Mid-Island Band Festival photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School band students, along with students from Hauppauge, Miller Place, Patchogue-Medford, Sayville, and West Islip high schools participated in the 61st Annual Mid-Island Band Festival on Jan. 25 and 26. Hosted by the Port Jefferson School District, the festival included a performance conducted by Michael Gianetta, a veteran Long Island music teacher from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District. Congratulations to all participating students!

Heading to State Competitions!


Congratulations to the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Science Olympiad team for placing fourth out of 52 teams who competed at the Eastern Long Island Regional Science Olympiad, recently held at Ward Melville High School. Their ranking allows them to compete against the best teams across New York State on March 15 and 16 at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.

The students competed in categories including genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology in active, hands-on group participation – a required skill in their future scientific careers.

Coached by advisers and science teachers Amanda Brideson and Adam Bouchard, the students cross-trained for a variety of events in their skill set and have practiced and prepared for months for the competition.
Congratulations to our medal winners:

1st place – David Rotunno and Peggy Yin for Sound of Music
2nd place – Aaron Held and Grant Samara for Fossils
3rd place – Chloe Andriani and Peggy Yin for Designer Genes
4th place – Sinan Ates and Peggy Yin for Anatomy and Physiology
4th place – Aaron Held and Kyle Onghai for Circuit Lab
5th place – Sinan Ates and Liam Gameng for Chemistry Lab
5th place – Gavin Barrett and Eadan McSweeney for Forensics
5th place – Chloe Andriani, Sinan Ates and Kyle Onghai for Protein Modeling
5th place – Sinan Ates and Eadan McSweeney for Thermodynamics
5th place –Reid Biondo and Aaron Held for Watery Quality
7th place – Liam Gameng and David Rotunno for Geological Mapping
8th place – Gani Ates and Liam Gameng for Astronomy
8th place – Grant Samara for Mission Possible
9th place – Grant Samara and Gil Zaltsman for Disease Detectives




NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that a special meeting of qualified voters of Union Free School District No. 6, Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York, will be held in the Port Jefferson Free Library located at 100 Thompson Street, Port Jefferson, New York, on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., prevailing time for the purpose of voting by paper ballot upon the following items:

To adopt the annual Port Jefferson Free Library budget for the fiscal year 2019-2020 and that the Board of Education of School District No. 6 be authorized and directed to raise by taxation the necessary moneys on the taxable property of the district.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that for the purpose of voting at such meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 the polls will be opened between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. prevailing time, and the voting will be held in the Port Jefferson Free Library Building.

AND FURTHER NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that a copy of the statement of the amount of money which will be required for the ensuing year for the Port Jefferson Free Library’s purposes, exclusive of public moneys, may be seen by any taxpayer in the School District during the seven days immediately preceding said meeting, except holidays, at the Library: 100 Thompson Street, Port Jefferson, New York during regular library hours of service, between 9:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday; 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, prevailing time.

A Budget Information Meeting will be held on Monday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Meeting Room.

By order of the
Board of Education
Union Free School District No. 6
Janice Baisley, District Clerk

2/14/19, 2/28/19, 3/14/19, 3/28/19

Science Joins to Create Artistic Pieces

Science Joins to Create Artistic Pieces photo
Third-graders were introduced to the art of marbleizing through science. The students discussed the properties of oil and water and why they don’t mix together. As they discovered that oil is less dense than the water, it causes it to float on the surface and they were able to use this to their advantage when creating marbleized paper. They poured oil paints into a water bath and used a tool to give it the marbleized or swirled design. They then placed paper across the top of the water bath and watched as it quickly absorbed the oil pigments before promptly lifting it off of the water and letting it dry on a flat surface.

“We use this paper as a background in a lesson about silhouettes and discovering positive and negative space,” art teacher Meghan McCarthy said. “This marbleized paper adds a little something special to our backgrounds and students love to create them!”

Alumnus Acapella

Alumnus Acapella photo
Many college students visit home during the winter holidays and Port Jefferson students were fortunate to have one of their one own alumni return to the school for an acapella performance.

Abby Bossert, a 2018 graduate, and a freshman at Binghamton University is part of the university’s No Strings Attached, a co-ed acapella group that brings the best of Broadway and Disney tunes to school audiences during their winter break.

The passionate and musical performance was punctuated with members speaking about their experiences with musical theater, New York’s Broadway scene and recently animated classics.

Lifting Spirits at LISFA

Lifting Spirits at LISFA photo
High school string students recently performed in the Secondary Long Island String Festival on Jan. 11 at St. John the Baptist High School. The students, Monica Alexander, Ju-Eun Ha, Rachel Park, Jack Reilly and Ava Schully were selected based on a competitive basis with New York State School Music Association scores as the main criteria along with teacher recommendations. The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the musicians.
Friday, March 22, 2019