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Vin Miceli & Joe Evangelista head to state wrestling tournament

Vin Miceli & Joe Evangelista head to state wrestling tournament photo
Senior Vin Miceli won the 126-pound title at the Section XI 2018 Division II Wrestling Championships, recently held at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. He will head to the state tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany tomorrow.

Miceli’s outstanding record consists of being a five-time All-County wrestler, two-time Suffolk County champion, four-time West Islip champion, a three-time Armstrong Cup champion, a three-time Huntington champion and a three-time Harborfields champion.

“Vin Miceli is impressive,” said coach Michael Maletta. “He is committed to his sport year-round and has accumulated over 90 off season matches this year. After every loss he rededicates himself and moves forward. I am so proud of him, Port Jefferson should be proud of him.”

Joining Miceli in Albany will be Joe Evangelista, who received a wild card to gain entrance to the state tournament. The Wild Card is reserved for the top wrestlers in the state who do not win their sectional tournament. Evangelista has over 100 career victories and is a five-time All-County wrestler as well as a County champion. He was a two-time Armstrong champion, two-time LuHi champion, and a Huntington champion, Bellport champion and West Islip champion.

The Port Jefferson wrestling team placed third at the County tournament with a score of 210.

Important Message for Parents and Our School Community

There will be a meeting on Monday, February 26th at 6:30 pm in the high school auditorium to discuss community questions and concerns about student and staff safety.

Surpassing a fundraising goal at the Middle School

Surpassing a fundraising goal at the Middle School photo
In early January, the Middle School Student Council set out to help children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses when they established a goal to raise $2,018 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Pennies for Patients” campaign.

As a result of the students and staff members overwhelming support, the Student Council not only met but surpassed their goal with a total amount raised of $2,766.

To achieve this goal, the students held various fundraisers, including afterschool bake sales and Pajama Friday, when staff and students paid up to five dollars to wear their pjs to school. They also created posters and sold blood drop stickers to cover a “Make Cancer Disappear” wall in the school.
“It’s such a pleasure to not only see our students engage in helping others but our whole school community come together to support their efforts,” said adviser Allison Giannusa.

The social studies classes also held their own competition and Philip Giannusa’s eighth-period class raised the most money with a total of $575.

VIDEO: Valentine's Day


Summer 2018 Music Camp Registration Now Open


Emerging writers at the Elementary School

Emerging writers at the Elementary School
A celebration of literacy was recently held in Carleen Parmegiani’s second-grade class where the students have been learning about non-fiction writing as part of their English Language Arts curriculum.

Family members, administrators, teachers and other students in the school stopped by to hear the stories and see the illustrations that the class members created.

Prior to the event, the students wrote and illustrated their own fact-based books, choosing a topic that was important to them and decorating their desks with props to complement their creative works. These included such diverse interests as dinosaurs, Manhattan, snakes, Brazil, butterflies and one student’s Ukrainian heritage. The books also contained an organized table of contents, researched facts, events, history and even a comments page for guests to sign and thank each student for sharing their stories and encourage them to continue on their writing paths.

Middle School proves it’s a ‘Big, Bright Beautiful World’

Middle School proves it’s a ‘Big, Bright Beautiful World’
The Middle School’s production of “Shrek The Musical JR.” was a resounding success based on the exceptional talents of the cast and stage crew.

The musical, an adaptation of the popular movie and Broadway show, engaged both the 44 members of the middle school Drama Club and numerous student volunteers from the High School.

The dedication and fun that the students experienced was under the leadership of co-advisers Mary LaSita, the middle school/high school librarian and music teacher Lisa Scrom. The months of planning, rehearsing and working together culminated in another successful stage performance and glowing reviews from the audience.

New musical adventures for fifth-graders

New musical adventures for fifth-graders Pic
New musical adventures for fifth-graders Pic 2
A new sound is emerging from the music classrooms at the Elementary School, where fifth-grade students are learning to play the ukulele under the leadership of music teacher Lisa Scrom.

The students are learning about chord progressions and strumming patterns to play along with a variety of pop and folk songs. Aligned with the New York State learning standards, the lessons also include how to read tablature, music theory, chord and song structure and improvisation.

“All the students really enjoy learning to play the ukulele and many families have purchased their own so the children can continue their learning at home, which is really exciting,” said Scrom. “They are all actively involved during each lesson, collaborating with each other to learn a variety of songs.”

Students share musical flair at Band Festival

Students share musical flair at Band Festival Pic
Six high school students participated in the 60th annual Mid-Island Band Festival, which was recently held at West Islip High School.

The concert brought students Josh Ecker, Cole Fortier, Leland Held, Jillian Lawler, Cole Swensen, and Jack Worrell together on stage with student-musicians from Miller Place, Sayville, Patchogue-Medford, Hauppauge and West Islip school districts.

“Congratulations to all participating students for their exceptional efforts,” said Dr. Michael Caravello, the district director of music and fine arts. “These experiences continue to advance their creative expressions in music.”

Service Academy nomination for senior Connor Kaminska

Service Academy 1
In addition to the academic and athletic accomplishments of senior Connor Kaminska, his resume now boasts not one, but three, 2018 Service Academy nominations.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Lee Zeldin each wrote a letter of recommendation for Connor for entry into the United States Naval Academy, where he hopes to continue his post high school education.

The competitive nomination process was an opportunity to shine a light on Connor’s competence, character and compassion. He was touted for his academic performance through his SAT and ACT scores, athletic abilities as a member of the lacrosse and football teams, and ambitious accomplishments as part of the school’s Mathletes and Science Olympiad team. He praised the many opportunities offered during his educational career in the Port Jefferson School District.

Connor’s academic and leadership skills were also noted when earlier this year, he was honored by the College Board as an AP Scholar with Distinction, and named a Suffolk Zone award winner by the New York State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Teaming up to ensure student well-being

Teaming up to ensure student well-being Pic
As research continues to be conducted on the health risks associated with electronic cigarettes, the District is proactively engaged in preventing its use among students.

A collaboration with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and educator Stephanie Sloan, is one of the approaches that is teaching students the dangers of e-cigarettes. Sloan is conducting informational presentations to all physical education classes in the High School, where students are learning peer-to-peer prevention strategies.

“Education is key,” said Danielle Turner, the district’s director of physical education, health and athletics, who along with district administrators is working to educate students to make healthy decisions. “The more our students understand and accept the associated risk factors, the more they will make positive choices.”

Science Olympiad students compete

Science Olympiad students compete photo
Science Olympiad students compete photo 2
The High School’s Science Olympiad team participated and placed in the Science Olympiad Division C Regional Competition along with 47 other teams from Eastern Long Island.

Port Jefferson came in seventh place overall and won a total of 14 medals, which are awarded to the top 10 teams of students in each event category. The categories and students who won medals are:

1st place - Eli Doyle and Louis Martin for Astronomy
2nd place - Sinan Ates and Eadan McSweeney for Anatomy and Physiology
2nd place - Hana Ali, Eli Doyle and Kyle Onghai for Quiz Bowl
3rd place - Ben Zaltsman and Reid Biondo for Game On
4th place - Joe Samara and Connor Kaminska for Rocks and Minerals
4th place - Joe Samara and Liam McSweeney for Fermi
6th place - Connor Kaminska and Ben Zaltsman for Helicopters
6th place - Rachel Park and David Rotunno for Fermi
7th place- Chris Scott and Cezanne Lojeski for Write it, Do it
7th place - Gavin Barrett and Liam McSweeney for Remote Sensing
8th place- Sinan Ates and Kyle Onghai for Thermodynamics
8th place - Reid Biondo and Eric Tischer for Parasitology
8th place - Cezanne Lojeski and Chloe Andriani for Ecology
10th place - Rachel Park and Chris Scott for Duct Tape Challenge

“We are proud of our student participants and congratulate them on their hard work,” said science teacher Amanda Brideson. She, along with science teacher Michel Krivosta – who also serves on the Science Olympiad regional planning committee – are the team co-advisers.

Candidates for Board of Education

Candidates for Board of Education
Residents of Port Jefferson School District interested in running for the Board of Education, please contact the District Clerk at (631)791-4221

University Gallery visit for art club students

University Gallery visit for art club students photo
University Gallery visit for art club students photo 2
As an extension to their studies, students from the fifth-grade art club had the chance to view unique works of art during a recent visit to the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts.

During the field trip, Karen Levitov, director and curator for the gallery, spoke with the students about the current “Double Portrait” exhibit that featured the work of Charley Friedman and Nancy Friedemann-Sanchez. Ms. Levitov spoke about the techniques and inspiration behind the artists’ works, which included quirky sculptures, drawings, video and photographs.

“The students had the opportunity to examine and discuss artwork that appeared visually different but upon further investigation, had similar content,” elementary art teacher Meghan Hallock, who accompanied the students on the trip along with art teacher Richard Anderson. “Through these artists they've come to understand that a self-portrait can be nonrepresentational and look forward to making their own.”

High School named Reward School

High School named Reward School photo
In recognition of its commitment to educational excellence and outstanding student performance, the High School has again been named a Reward School by the New York State Education Department. It has achieved the honor consecutively since the 2012-13 academic year.

The SED presents the award annually to schools that have made the most progress or have the highest performance in the state with no significant gaps in student achievement. Earl L. Vandermeulen High School was one of only 155 schools across New York State to receive the recognition this year.

“This prestigious designation is a testament to the tireless efforts of our administrators and educators,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano. “That, coupled with students who embrace learning, their exceptional accomplishments, and the engagement of parents and our school community, allow us to continue to meet and exceed high standards.”

The designation is the third honor for the school this academic year. On the national level, it was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in September, and Principal Christine Austen was named a Person of the Year by TBR News Media in December for her leadership and steadfast efforts in improving the academic programs offered. The school annually boasts numerous AP Scholars, and National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Students, in addition to the many athletic, musical, civic and volunteer accomplishments of its students.

Showcasing musical talents at Long Island String Festival

Showcasing musical talents at Long Island String Festival photo
Showcasing musical talents at Long Island String Festival photo 2
Eight students from both the elementary school and middle school showcased their exceptional talents at the Long Island String Festival Association concert on Jan. 28 at Northport High School.

Fifth-graders Caitlin Dickhuth, Jinah Kwak and Jack Snyder, sixth-graders Gavin Onghai, Kay Ranjbar, Andrew Schretzmayer and Nicholas Smirnov, and seventh-grader Alexa Ayotte were selected to perform in the Intermediate Long Island String Festival.

These students were selected for this honor 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.

“On behalf of the Port Jefferson School District, we congratulate all these accomplished musicians,” said Director of Music and Fine Arts Dr. Michael Caravello.

February Meeting Dates

meeting dates image

‘Pennies for Patients’ at Middle School

‘Pennies for Patients’ at Middle School photo
The Port Jefferson Middle School Student Council started the new year with a goal to raise $2,018 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Pennies for Patients” campaign. They are well on their way and encourage others to help them reach their goal by Feb. 9th.

The students are conducting afterschool bake sales in the school lobby and Pajama Friday, when staff and students can pay up to five dollars to wear their pjs to school that day. The students have also created posters and a “Make Cancer Disappear” wall in the school. Blood drop stickers are being sold for one dollar each and the goal is to cover the word “cancer” on the wall with the stickers. 

Collections are also taking place during grades 6-8 social studies classes and online at

“Our students are not only learning to work together for a common cause but how this organization works to find a cure for blood cancers in children,” said Giannusa. 

For more information on how to assist in the fundraiser, please contact Mrs. Giannusa at

‘Tickling the Ivories’ at the Elementary School

Elementary School photo
A new generation of pianists — some of whom may become as famous as Mozart, Billy Joel or Art Tatum — are learning basic technical skills at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School.

As part of their music curriculum, students in Lisa Scrom’s and Christian Neubert’s first-grade music classes have begun their piano unit. They will learn basic fingerings and hand positions as well as note names and their location on the piano.

Middle School ‘dynamic duo’ honored by Board of Education

Middle School ‘dynamic duo’ honored by Board of Education photo
Teaching assistants Tracy Gray and Bonnie Kelsch were honored by the Board of Education for their continued contributions to the Middle School.

Known as the school’s “dynamic duo,” Principal Dr. Robert Neidig prepared a heartfelt tribute to the long-time staff members who have made a significant impact on the lives of the students, families and staff.

“Their commitment to helping children succeed and the support they provide to ensure their academic, social, and emotional growth is a model for all others to follow,” said Dr. Neidig. “Their positive spirit, along with their huge hearts, have helped countless scores of children thrive during this time of their lives. These two play such an instrumental role in the successes of the middle school.”

Musical accolades for High School students

Musical accolades for High School students photo
Seven High School students attended the Long Island String Festival held recently at West Islip High School.

Senior Ibuki Iwasaki, juniors Ju-Eun Ha and Ava Shully, sophomore Rachel Park and freshmen Jack Reilly, Grant Samara and Nicole Schully were selected to perform along with students from across Suffolk County.

The talented students took part on a competitive basis with New York State School Music Association scores as the main criteria along with teacher recommendations.

“Congratulations to all the selected string students,” said Dr. Michael Caravello, the district’s Director of Music and Fine Arts. “We are all proud of their musical achievements.”

Fifth-grader heads to regional Spelling Bee

Fifth-grader heads to regional Spelling Bee photo
Fifth-grade student Isabelle Chen took the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School title of top speller after correctly spelling “massacres.” She will now compete in the 2018 Hofstra Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee on Feb. 4.

Isabelle, who was the school’s second place winner last year, studied a variety of words and definitions to be competition-ready. She will represent the district at Hofstra on Feb. 4 with a written test and if she is one of the top scorers, will be invited back the following week for the traditional oral spell down. From there, winners move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which takes place in Washington D.C. later in the spring.

“We’re all proud of her accomplishment,” said her teacher Christine Wicks. “We wish her the best of luck at the next step of the competition.”

Cooking Club serves up food for thought

Cooking Club serves up food for thought photo
The district’s Cooking Club held a Gingerbread Holiday contest in the library at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, where dozens of Middle School and High School students created their festive, sugary masterpieces.

With piped royal icing, pretzels and candies, the high-spirited event was an occasion that allowed student participants to work together with their peers.

Coordinated by school social worker Kristin Britt and speech pathologist Stacia Schoen, the focus of the club is social learning, which includes good communication, flexible thinking, teamwork and cooperation.

According to Britt, the club gives students an opportunity to interact with one another, giving them an active voice within their peer groups to become healthier and happier by taking the time to work together and share a meal.

“I enjoy being a part of the club,” said seventh-grader Grace Chambers. “They come up with fun ideas and then let us choose what we want to create. We all get a chance to socialize and meet new friends too.”

The Cooking Club is funded by the Royal Educational Foundation of Port Jefferson, which works to strengthen community participation in school programs and provide funds for projects to help assure educational excellence for all students in the Port Jefferson School District.

Eighth-grader honored for hundreds of hours of community service

Eighth-grader honored for hundreds of hours of community service photo
Port Jefferson Middle School eighth-grader Ryan Parmegiani was honored by the district’s Board of Education for accruing 850 hours of community service. His selfless acts are consistent with the beliefs of the district, which include the idea that “an individual has a responsibility to self, family and community.”

Some of the initiatives Ryan has been involved in have been helping with the high school prom, back-to-school nights, middle school and high school drama productions and concerts, working at the elementary school after school, Camp Paquatuck cleanups and Scraggy Olympics, among others.

“Throughout his tenure as a middle school student, Ryan has devoted a great deal of energy to making a difference in the lives of so many,” said Port Jefferson Middle School Principal Dr. Robert Neidig. “His exemplary efforts have contributed to countless people and events, and I am proud of his devotion to the students and staff of the district and inspired by his spirit of volunteerism.”

Music students attend concert at Lincoln Center

Music students attend concert at Lincoln Center photo
As an extension of their classroom lessons, more than 50 students from the school district attended an evening performance of the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center.

Accompanied by family members, Michael Caravello, Port Jefferson School District Director of Music and Fine Arts, and and music teacher Christian Neubert, the elementary, middle and high school string students enjoyed the orchestra's performance featuring world-renowned violinist Baiba Skride.

Stranger Safety Concepts at the Elementary School

Stranger Safety Concepts at the Elementary School photo
Officers from the Suffolk County Police Department’s Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit visited Edna Louise Spear Elementary School for a program on the dangers of strangers.

The officers were invited as volunteer educational partners by the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, an organization that works to educate and empower children with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction.

The program’s theme was “If I Don’t Know, I Don’t Go!” which helped to reinforce stranger safety concepts. Using puppets and simple self-defense techniques, the students role-played and acted out scenarios about the danger of strangers.

“The students loved the assembly,” said Assistant Principal Claudia Smith. “It was extremely informative.”

Entrepreneurship skills take the lead at the High School

Entrepreneurship skills take the lead at the High School photo
Students at the High School are gaining valuable skills in leadership, communication and problem-solving as part of the LaunchX program.

The students are learning everything they need to know about creating and growing their own business in the entrepreneurship club and competition that motivates them to solve a real need in a different way. They are supported by mentors and the detailed programs and resources of LaunchX.

“LaunchX is not a business plan competition,” said High School English teacher and club adviser Michael Augello. “The students are expected to actually create, test and sell their ideas.”

The theme for this year is “Environmental Sustainability.” Open to students in grades 9-12, the high school has four teams in the program working on a way to filter out CO2 emissions from cars; creating a chip bag that is better for the environment; producing a self-sustaining gym and generating a platform that connects people with local opportunities to volunteer.

Each group is encouraged to start in a small market and works with a mentor who has experience in the field and can help the first-time entrepreneurs work through some of the challenges they will encounter.

It is truly impressive to see not only how creative and bright these students are, but how confident and professional they are becoming,” Augello said. “They are gaining skills that go well beyond entrepreneurship and will help them well beyond high school.”

Leo Club members assemble Blizzard Bags

Leo Club members assemble Blizzard Bags photo
Members of the High School’s Leo Club completed their annual Blizzard Bags event for the Three Village Meals on Wheels program.

Club members purchased the food items and assembled the bags before the December holidays. The items were sent to the Three Village Meals on Wheels program, which then delivers them to senior citizens who receive their services.

Each package contains four meals for seniors to have in their home to use when their daily Meals on Wheels delivery is canceled due to poor weather conditions. The meals consist of boxed or canned nonperishable items that can be stored for a later date. The Leo Club raises funds through bake sales at the school and uses the proceeds to purchase the needed food items.

“The Leo Club members recognize the real need for this program,” said technology teacher and Leo Club adviser Brian Chalmers. “Delivering food to the Three Village Meals on Wheels clients is a true community outreach event.”

Unique ‘Partners in Science’ opportunity for two High School students

Unique ‘Partners in Science’ opportunity for two High School students photo
Unique ‘Partners in Science’ opportunity for two High School students photo 2
Two students from the high school visited Brookhaven National Laboratory in December for the Partners in Science program. Junior Reid Biondo and sophomore Hana Ali applied to be a part of the program that grants select high school students who are working on approved science projects access to the vast BNL scientific database of reference and research materials.

Sponsored by the Eastern Suffolk BOCES School Library System and the internationally renowned research facility, they were accompanied by Middle School/High School library media specialist Mary LaSita. Both students have independent research projects under the leadership of science teacher Michel Krivosta. LaSita and Krivosta have collaborated and attended the program with students for the past three years.

While at BNL, the students toured the electron storage ring, the National Synchrotron Light Source II and attended a lunch with an environmental scientist and LaSita. The highlight of their visit was the opportunity to speak with a BNL research librarian about the research process, culling through extensive academic materials and the facility’s scientific databases. The students now have the opportunity to access the lab on school breaks and after school to continue their research.

Elementary School recognizes ‘Star Students’

read photo
Five students from the elementary Sschool were named “Star Students” by librarian Selinda Stout to promote the importance of literacy. The school’s version of the American Library Association Celebrity READ Campaign takes place several times per year.

The students were chosen for their excellent attitude, behavior and work ethic in the library. To recognize their achievement, their photos are displayed on the bulletin board outside of the library along with a summary of their favorite book. A printed version of each child’s poster is also sent home for their families to enjoy.

“When students experience the pleasures of independent reading, it encourages them to become lifelong learners,” said Stout.

Star students are Dean Zaltsman – grade 1, Nina Gnatenko – grade 2, Jack Krause – grade 3, Lillianna Swift – grade 4 and Christopher Lotten – grade 5.

Port Jefferson Music Students Deliver Holiday Cheer

Port Jefferson Music Students Deliver Holiday Cheer photo

The stages, classrooms and hallways of the Port Jefferson School District were filled with the melodies and rhythms of music at the most festive time of year.

The elementary, middle school and high school winter concerts were joyful celebrations for the community, staff, families and friends throughout December.

Members of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s Tri-M Music Honor Society delivered holiday carol-grams to the delight of recipients and onlookers. Organized by music teacher and adviser Christine Creighton, students surprised and charmed school staff, including Principal Christine Austen, and friends with a holiday carol, tinsel and garland.

High school students, under the leadership of Michael Caravello, director of music and fine arts, and music teachers Edward Pisano and Katherine Butera, entertained the Board of Education and community members with select seasonal songs at the December meeting. The Board honored them with certificates for spreading holiday cheer in the community.

Port Jefferson School Community Wraps Up Kindness

Port Jefferson School Community Wraps Up Kindness photo

Students of the Port Jefferson School District take part in many charitable endeavors throughout the year and the winter holiday season is no exception.

After engaging in Thanksgiving charitable giving drives, students were back in action in early December with lists of specific gifts for local children, organizing bake sales and other fundraisers. The students volunteered during their lunch periods and after school to assemble care packages, using their artistic skills to wrap presents and ready them for delivery to bring joy to local children.

At Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, under the leadership of guidance counselor Jessica Peterson, staff, students and parents collected toys and other items and worked along with members of the Port Jefferson Library and The United Methodist Church of Port Jefferson to ensure a happy holiday for 18 Port Jefferson children. They credit the high school student organization for donating gifts for three of the children.

The Middle School National Junior Honor Society, along with advisor and teacher Philip Giannusa held a festive wrapping event. They and the members of the student council and advisor Allison Giannusa purchased gifts with money they raised from bake sales and also donated gift cards to local families in need. Their efforts benefited local children and their packages were delivered to the families just before the holidays.

For more than a decade Earl L. Vandermeulen High School has partnered with the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson, whose members fundraise throughout the year to purchase toys and clothing for a local charity. They then bring the hundreds of items to the high school where they are sorted, labeled and organized by members of the school’s Interact Club under the direction of adviser Deirdre Filippi.

“It’s a nice feeling to be a part of a community that cares so much about each other,” said student Billy Scannel, as he wrapped gifts one day after school with fellow students, Rotary members and school administrators.

Friday, February 23, 2018