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Student Leader Receives Museum Internship

Student Leader Receives Museum Internship
An opportunity to develop civic, social and business leadership skills will be forthcoming for Earl L. Vandermeulen High School senior Chloe Andriani this summer.

As a recipient of the Bank of American Leadership Program scholarship, Chloe will embark on an eight-week paid internship with The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. She will also participate in a six-day, all-expense paid Student Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., in partnership with Bank of America and the Close Up Foundation.

“We are so proud of Chloe's accomplishments so far and wish her continued success,” said high school guidance counselor Kathy Galvin. “We have no doubt that she will take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity that she has received.”

They Know Much About History and More!

With a nod to the teachers at Port Jefferson Middle School, eight students took part in the Long Island regional competition of the Academic Bees, with several of them eligible for the national championships, to be held in Chicago in June.

Sixth graders Ruman Khan, Aoife Hogan, Max Joyner, Jack Snyder and Evan Monaghan, seventh graders Carman Stanton and Eric Chen and eighth grader Kenneth Dixon-Lanza represented at the Long Island regional competition.

Aoife, Max, Jack, Carman and Kenneth each earned a place in the national competition. Following the preliminary rounds, Kenneth won the Long Island Regional competition for the eighth-grade division of the Academic Bee and qualified for the national championships.

Playing Hoops with Heart

Playing Hoops with Heart photo
Port Jefferson hosted its first Unified Basketball game recently against Commack High School. Under the guidance of the Special Olympics and supported by Section XI, the concept is to pair people with and without disabilities on the same team, providing an equal opportunity for all to contribute to the success of the team through their unique skills and qualities.

The team consists of nine members in grades 9-12. Along with Adam Sherrard, director of athletics, they participated in a Youth Activation Conference Summit hosted by the Special Olympics in late spring where they learned about inclusive sports and how to provide opportunities for all students to participate in sports alongside one another. The group also learned how to take on leadership roles in promoting unified activities and engaging the school and community in supporting the athletes. As part of the program, the students have also been promoting the campaign “Spread the Word to end the Word” in attempts for high school students to understand how the use of the R-word is offensive and to be more thoughtful with their choice of words.

Coached by Jayson Williams, the recent game was an exciting first for Port Jefferson. Sophomore Hailey Hearney said that after getting to know one another as players on the team, now there are more smiles and a special fellowship in the hallways with the special education population. Her teammate James Marci simply said from the sidelines “this is why I do it,” when another teammate, Michael Brown, sunk yet another basket to cheers from the crowd and a win for Port Jefferson at 48-38. To date, the team is undefeated at 4-0.

HOME GAME TODAY 4 p.m. COME OUT TO SUPPORT OUR TEAM: Michael Brown, Ryan Daly, Shane DeVincenzo, Adam Friedman, Hailey Hearney, James Marci, Aarya Patel, Brendan Rogers and Chris Scotto.

Celebrating 10 Years of the Instrument Petting Zoo

 Celebrating 10 Years of the Instrument Petting Zoo

The 10th annual Instrument Petting Zoo was recently held at the elementary school. The yearly event brings together members of the high school’s instrumental ensembles, their musical instruments and third graders for a hands-on opportunity to become familiar with all the instruments of the band, orchestra and chorus.

Students were able to hear the instruments performed, ask questions about each instrument as well as experience the excitement of holding many of them for the first time. Before the end of the school year, the third graders will select the instrument they would like to begin to learn when they enter fourth grade in September.

A special thanks to music teachers Ms. Christine Creighton, Mr. Mark Abbonizio and Dr. Vanessa Salzman for organizing this educational and exciting event.

Student-Musicians Perform at NYSSMA Festival

Student-Musicians Perform at NYSSMA Festival photo

Districtwide music students performed at the annual New York State School Music Association festival hosted this year at Ward Melville High School in Setauket. During the event, each student performed a solo selection, scales or rudiments and a sight-reading excerpt for an official NYSSMA adjudicator, who provided a score as well as constructive comments for improvement. Congratulations to our student performers and their music teachers for their outstanding performances.


A special meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on May 21, 2019, 9:15 p.m., in the cafeteria at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, for the purpose of accepting the tabulation of votes of the two propositions and election of trustees brought before the voters on said date.

Sharing Musical Talents at All-County Jazz Festival

Sharing Musical Talents at All-County Jazz Festival photo
Congratulations to high school student jazz musician Cole Fortier, who recently participated in the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association All-County Jazz Festival at Miller Place High School. Cole, a member of the all-county vocal jazz ensemble, performed a program of contemporary jazz standards led by world-renowned guest conductor Melissa Stylianou.

Budget Newsletter Now Available


Students Honored for Athletic Leadership

For displaying outstanding leadership and character in physical education classes, five Port Jefferson School District students were recognized at the Suffolk Zone of the New York Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance annual awards ceremony. The students earned their awards based upon recommendations from physical education teachers Francoise Schachner at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School and Dinarae Camarda at Port Jefferson Middle School. The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to eighth-graders Samantha DiCarlo and Jack Speidell and fifth-graders Talin Bajaj, Michael Castro and Alexa Jacobs.

Making an Impact Locally and Globally

The Port Jefferson Middle School National Junior Honor Society recently hosted a shoe drive for the Soles4Souls initiative.

Along with advisers English teacher Kayleen Everitt and special education teacher Christina Marino, the ambitious project resulted in collecting more than 120 pairs of shoes for the organization that serves people around the world by providing shoes and clothing in addition to helping to disrupt the cycle of poverty.

“Our students used community engagement to provide new opportunities for those in need while have a positive impact on the environment,” Ms. Marino said. “Their participation in the project is helping to nurture their future leadership skills.”

The school district commends all the students in the NJHS for their outstanding efforts: Frank Andriani, Alexa Ayotte, Abbie Blake, Sophie Blumenthal, Peyton Broyles, Matthew Buonomo, Giancarlo Caltagirone, Dante Cangemi, Braeden Cesarski,Grace Chambers, Kasey Cobb, Brady DeWitt, Samantha DiCarlo, Luke Dickhuth, Eric Friedman, Teppei Fukuto, Nicolina Giannola, Lola Idir, Mano Idir, Jenna Jacobs, Maggie Johnston, Jack Keegan, Safiy Khan, Sooah Kwak, Connor Lioio, Christopher Mark, Kacey McGorry, Mia O'Connell, Daniel Owens, Benjamin Perez-Flesler, Riley Perrotta, Jonah Pflaster, Anthony Pipia, Ruby Ray, Anna Rebic, Matthew Riccobono, Olivia Schlegel, Tabitha Schully, Garrett Simko, Rishabh Singh, Jack Speidell, Ellery Tafuro, Ava Timpanaro, Sophia Wennerod, Ryan Whiffen, Amy Whitman and Gretchen Zimmerman.

Academic Accomplishments Lead to National Merit Scholarship

Academic Accomplishments Lead to National Merit Scholarship
High School senior Annalisa Welinder has been named a National Merit Scholarship winner in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Annalisa was chosen from more than 15,000 outstanding students from across the country who were selected for their strong combination of exceptional academic accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college courses. She will receive a $2,500 scholarship for her studies at Stanford University where she will begin in the fall.

Annalisa is also the school’s Class of 2019 valedictorian.

“Annalisa is a true renaissance woman, excelling throughout her high school career in academics, music and athletics,” Principal Christine Austen said. “She is masterful in all she pursues and our school community looks forward to hearing great things about her as she continues in her higher education.”

High School Ranked No. 4 in Suffolk County

High School Ranked No. 4 in Suffolk County photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School has been named a top high school by U.S. News & World Report for 2019. Of all the eligible schools that received the designation, it was ranked fourth in Suffolk County, No. 17 on Long Island, No. 74 within New York State and 804 out of more than 17,000 nationally.

The news organization evaluated the high school based on several factors, including ensuring that it serves all students well, using graduation rates and state proficiency-test results in reading and mathematics as indicators, and assessing how well-prepared students are for college-level work.

“This distinction is a testament to our exceptional educators and the opportunities that our students are expected and encouraged to pursue starting at the elementary level,” Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Jessica Schmettan said. “The recognition is one that ensures our students continue on a path of academic excellence through high school and in future endeavors.”

The high 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.

Russian Stage Production for Orchestra Students

Russian Stage Production for Orchestra Students photo
Port Jefferson music students had an opportunity to take part in a sophisticated multimedia stage production recently at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University.

Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy, created by James Glossman and Philip Setzer, the violinist in the Emerson String Quartet, connects Shostakovich’s music with Anton Chekhov’s story “The Black Monk.”

“It was a stunning performance,” Dr. Vanessa Salzman, 4-6 grade orchestra teacher said. “I was looking around at all my students and they were all intently watching, it was so exquisite, the music just drew them in. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share the experience with so many of our students and their families.”

More than sixty students from throughout the district and their family members attended the performance, which was a collaboration between Dr. Salzman and Paul Newland, the outreach director at the Staller Center, who provides complimentary tickets for students to experience unique musical performances so close to home. 

Seeing the Needs of Others

Seeing the Needs of Others photo
The generosity of the Port Jefferson School District community was once again realized when students, staff and families collected dozens of eyeglasses for the high school’s Leo Club that will be donated to the Lions Club International’s Recycle for Sight program.

“Not only do our students understand their role in civic engagement, this project helps them recognize the needs of others around the world,” said Leo Club co-adviser Brian Chalmers, of the donations that are placed in inventory for distribution to optical missions internationally.

Thank you to Mr. Chalmers and co-adviser Mrs. Mary LaSita for spearheading this project.

Senior performs at prestigious All-Eastern concert

Senior performs at prestigious All-Eastern concert photo
Senior Ava Schully recently performed in the National Association for Music Education All-Eastern music conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ava is a cellist who was accepted first as an All-State musician, and then selected to perform following a rigorous application process; representing the finest student musicians throughout the Eastern Division. “On behalf of the school district, we congratulate Ava on her outstanding musical achievement,” said Dr. Michael Caravello, the district’s director of music and fine arts.

Students Visit Ellis Island

Students Visit Ellis Island photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students recently visited the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Chaperoned by French teacher Heather Marshak and English as a Second Language teacher Jennifer Walling, who are co-advisers to the International Club, the students researched their ancestors who walked through the Great Hall when they entered the United States so many years ago.

“It was amazing,” Ms. Walling said. “So many of the students found their ancestors’ names, sometimes four or five great aunts, grandparents; seeing their names brought them excitement and pride. They asked engaging questions and left the visit with great memories.”

Seven Inducted into Tri-M Music Honor Society

Seven Inducted into Tri-M Music Honor Society photo
The Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Chapter 2172 of the Tri-M Music Honor Society recently hosted its 12th annual honors recital and induction. This year’s inductees are Monica Alexander, Marina Kelley-Renda, Jillian Lawler, Rachel Park, Hannah Skula, Jack Worrell and Peggy Yin.

In addition to outstanding musical achievement, students are selected into the honor society on the basis of five points of distinction: scholarship, character, cooperation, leadership and service. The special evening included an honors recital featuring performances by the new inductees, followed by a ceremony and reception. Congratulations to all of the new Tri-M members.

A harmonious introduction to musical instruments

A harmonious introduction to musical instruments 1
Third-grade students experienced an informative and musical lesson on string, brass and woodwind instruments at the school’s recent instrumental recruitment meeting.

From the soft vibrations of a violin to the baritone-voiced euphonium, the students were introduced to the instruments by the current fourth-graders, who were eager to demonstrate the instrument they each play.

The annual event is a collaborative effort of Dr. Vanessa Salzman, the 4-6 grade orchestra teacher, who organizes the event and band teacher Mark Abbonizio, who runs the meeting with the students.

The district commends the students who took part in showcasing their talents. They are Ben Amadio (alto saxophone), Vincent Chen (clarinet), Gianni Cipriano (tuba), Matteo Cipriano (trumpet), Avery Eisaman (oboe), Bomin Kim (viola), Lucas Lotten (baritone), Samuel Matvya (trombone), Iris Park (cello), Ava Sexton (violin), Blake Weaver (bass) and Dasha Zakharova (flute). 

Examples of Excellence

Examples of Excellence photo
Eleven students from Earl L. Vandermeulen High School and Port Jefferson Middle School recently participated and placed as high scorers in the annual Suffolk County Math Teachers’ Association competition.

According to math teacher and math team adviser Dennis Christofor, the students excelled in their sections of competition, which is based on the state mathematics curriculum of each grade or course level.

High school students Nicholas DeDonato, David Lawler, William Wu, Reid Biondo and Kyle Onghai were the school’s winners in geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus and advanced calculus, respectively. William Wu also placed fourth in Suffolk County in pre-calculus.

Eighth grader Michael Melikyan was the middle school winner in the Level 1 category and Carman Stanton was the school winner in the seventh grade section. Sixth grade students Isabelle Chen was the middle school winner and tied for second place in all of Suffolk County, Alice Snyder tied for third place in the county and Emily Snyder and Mark Marinescu tied each other for fourth place.

Congratulations to all the students!

Sharing His Aspirations with SEPTA

Sharing His Aspirations with SEPTA photo
The Port Jefferson Special Education PTA hosted two special guests at their recent meeting, John Cronin and his father Mark Cronin, co-founders of John’s Crazy Socks. John, a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome built the multi-million-dollar business as a result of his love of crazy socks.

John’s work includes advocating for the rights of people with differing disabilities and he has spoken at the U.S. Capitol, the State Department and has been featured by CNBC, Money magazine and CBS Evening News.

“The evening was truly inspirational,” Dr. Jodi Cahill, the district’s director of special education said. “John and his father spoke about the origin of their company and their mission to spread happiness while giving people with different abilities the opportunity for meaningful employment.”

The event was well received with parents, students and staff in attendance. John and his father also received a special acknowledgment from the Village of Port Jefferson that declared March 21st (World Down Syndrome Day) “Rock Your Crazy Socks Day.”

The Port Jefferson School community thanks John Cronin for visiting the district to share his empowering message and demonstrate the possibilities that each of our students possess.

High School Duo Score on National Math Exam

High School Duo Score on National Math Exam
The Mathematical Association of America has recognized senior Annalisa Welinder and sophomore Grant Samara for their achievement in the American Math Competition 12 and AMC 10, respectively. The exam, which was administered nationwide, consisted of 25 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 60 minutes. The main purpose of the AMC 12 is to spur interest in mathematics and develop talent through the excitement of solving challenging problems.

The AMC 10 covers the high school curriculum up to 10th grade. The AMC 12, open to high school seniors, covers the entire high school curriculum including trigonometry, advanced algebra, and advanced geometry, but excluding calculus.

“We are so proud of the accomplishments of Grant and Annalisa,” math teacher Dennis Christofor said. “These exams help further their analytical skills and are a great opportunity to continue to master their mathematical talents.”

Art Students Experience Van Gogh on Stage

Art Students Experience Van Gogh on Stage photo
High school art students recently attended a performance of the one-actor play “Vincent” at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. Accompanied by art teachers Lynne Edsall and Nancy Randazzo, the students had the opportunity to learn about one of the world’s most renowned artists through a unique perspective.

Written by Emmy nominated actor, Leonard Nimoy, the one-man production examined the life of acclaimed artist Vincent Van Gogh as told through letter correspondences with his brother Theo. The educational program shed a light on some the struggles and thoughts behind several of his most famous works. The students viewed Van Gogh’s works on the stage through projection as the narrator shared their fascinating back stories.

Important May Dates


Best Communities for Music Education Part II


Best Communities for Music Education


Artful Dozen Showcase Work at Village Center

Artful Dozen Showcase Work at Village Center photo
The district’s Fine Arts Department was commended at the April 9 Board of Education meeting and 12 students were honored for having their work displayed at the 2019 Spring Art Show at the Port Jefferson Village Center. The annual month-long joint collaboration between the village and the school district is an opportunity for the greater community to view the creations of district students.

The vast display featured the artworks as instructed by teachers Richard Anderson and Meghan McCarthy at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School; Stacey Schuman at Port Jefferson Middle School and Lynne Edsall and Nancy Randazzo at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

Dr. Michael Caravello, the district’s director of music and fine arts, presented each student with a certificate and thanked the teachers for their commitment to the students.

“They are true art leaders,” Dr. Caravello said. “Their incredible creativity and inspiration is a testament to their dedication to our students and their exploration and discovery of the arts.”

Students recognized were kindergartner Catherine Ioannou; third graders Joseph Curley and Natalie Paulus; fifth graders Alexa Jacobs, Violet Kim, Hannah Pflaster and Sadie Salzman; sixth grader Ana Kelly; eighth graders Connor Lioio, Jonah Pflaster and Anna Rebic and senior Jillian Lawler.

Jillian was also lauded for her commitment and talent in sketching the artwork for the district’s Armed Forces Tribute, which will be unveiled at a dedication ceremony on May 30. Jillian will continue her artistic career at Ringling College of Art in Design in Sarasota, Florida, where she will major in computer animation.

Port Jeff Celebrates National Library Week

Port Jeff Celebrates National Library Week photo
In celebration of National Library Week, middle school and high school students were encouraged to explore and create in the new Discovery Den in the HS/MS library.

Librarian Mary LaSita set up exciting activities that included “Let’s Stick Together,” a mosaic picture, which was a fun puzzle that when completed was a replica of Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa and a “Snap into Spring @ the Library” photo caption contest, which incorporated Google classroom and other technologies for more than 130 students, teachers and staff. Snap circuits, 3D pen projects, Sphero Ball coding robots and Jenga were other engaging activities to round out an exciting way to recognize the library and the staff for the role they serve in the enrichment, engagement and development of Port Jefferson students.

Gaining Intrinsic Rewards through Volunteer Efforts

Gaining Intrinsic Rewards through Volunteer Efforts photo
Dozens of students from the high school and middle school joined forces with members of the Port Jefferson Rotary Club to help ready Camp Paquatuck for the summer season. 

Members of the high school Interact Club and the middle school National Junior Honor Society spent a recent weekend day to help ready cabins, dorm rooms and buildings and rake and add mulch to the flowering plants at the Center Moriches camp, which provides special needs children and young adults with camping experiences. 

According to adviser Interact Club adviser Deirdre Filippi, the annual volunteer event is always a success for the students and helps them to understand not only the needs of others, but how simple efforts go a long way in serving the greater community. 

Congratulations to our All-County Wrestling Recipients!

Seven Royals were honored at the Section XI wrestling awards dinner recently. Congratulations:

Harry Cona 182 lbs.
Luca Rohman 152 lbs.
Brendan Rogers 120 lbs.
Rick D'Elia 113 lbs.
Anthony D'Elia 113 lbs.
Anthony Evnagelista 126 lbs.
Ryan Robertson 132 lbs.

Congratulations to Coach Mike Maletta who received League 8 Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time!

Studying Ancient Musical Instruments

Studying Ancient Musical Instruments p
Fourth grade students have embarked on an art lesson involving clay and music. Along with teacher Meghan McCarthy, they learned about the long history of the ancient instrument known as the ocarina. They studied ocarinas from all over the world, starting in Central and South America, to China, Europe and North America.

After constructing the form, they then worked together on making the whistle. They were able to create multiple sounds by piercing the ocarina to create a high or low pitch.

“Students were influenced by particular ocarina forms and surface designs from the different cultures we studied,” Mrs. McCarthy said. “They had fun experimenting with the ocarinas and even making some into animals, characters or just beautiful abstract forms.”

Fostering an Interest in Mathematics

Fostering an Interest in Mathematics photo
Congratulations to Port Jefferson Middle School sixth grade students who placed in the Suffolk County Math Teachers’ Association Contest. Student Isabelle Chen tied for second place in all of Suffolk County, Alice Snyder tied for third place in the county and Emily Snyder and Mark Marinescu tied each other for fourth place.

“It is a very competitive test and these students were up for the challenge,” sixth grade math teacher Melissa Corey said. “Contests like this help them continue to foster an interest in mathematics while they gain a better understanding of the subject matter,” added Megan Ryan, also a sixth grade math teacher.

Middle School Science Olympiad: Best Small School in New York State

Middle School Science Olympiad: Best Small School in New York State photo
The Port Jefferson Middle School Science Olympiad team placed 11th out of 39 teams in the New York State Science Olympiad State competition at East Syracuse Minoa High School in Syracuse, NY on April 5th and 6th. With this ranking, they earned the honor of being named the best small school in New York State. This award is given to the highest-ranking school with an enrollment of under 500 students. The scores are determined by adding up the results of all the science and engineering events the team competed in. Coached by Mr. Adam Bouchard, the team was accompanied by Mrs. Debra Hagmeyer and Ms. Nicole Sklar.

“During the event, the students were focused and showed the drive to perform well in the competition,” Mr. Bouchard said. “They put in many hours of studying and preparation for the tournament and it showed. We continue as a team to excel and I am very proud of their achievements.”

Congratulations to all medal winners:

1st Place Sci Tech Quiz Bowl - Andrew Patterson, Hugo Onghai, Kasumi Layne-Stasik
2nd Place Fossils - Andrew Patterson, Alana Samara
4th Place Circuit Lab - Michael Melikyan, Max Paulus
5th Place Herpetology - Andrew Patterson, Kasumi Layne-Stasik
6th Place Anatomy - Gavin Onghai, Ben Perez-Flesler
6th Place Elastic Launched Glider - Andrew Patterson, Stefano Rabeno
8th Place Crime Busters - Alana Samara, Michelle Wu
9th Place Parasitology - Nicholas Smirnov, Ryan Gameng
9th Place Thermodynamics - Hugo Onghai, Michael Melikyan
10th Place Density Lab - Teppei Fukuto, Stefano Rabeno
10th Place Game On - Hugo Onghai, William Wu

Other team members included Riley Perrotta, Jonah Pflaster, Pratham Sethia and Ricky Melucci.

With a Song in Their Heart

With a Song in Their Heart photo
Chamber choir students from the high school recently visited the Water’s Edge Rehab and Nursing Center at Port Jefferson to perform for patients and nursing staff. Led by music teacher Maria Diaz, the ensemble sang an upbeat program of popular music and standards to bring joyful sounds and encouragement to those residing at the facility.

Baskets of Kindness

The freshman class at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School collected Easter candy, books and toys to create baskets for children whose families are enduring financial hardships. They also filled over 100 plastic eggs with goodies for an egg hunt at a local shelter.

“The kids were so excited to help those in need,” said Christina Carlson, freshman class co-adviser along with Melissa Zinger, who both encouraged the entire class to share in the project by bringing the holiday items to Jesse Rosen’s social studies classroom.

No School


A Stronghold for Student Leaders

A Stronghold for Student Leaders photo
A dozen students in the high school Gay-Straight Alliance attended the 23rd annual LGBT Conference at the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University recently.

Accompanied by co-advisers Kristin Britt and Dinarae Camarda, members of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance spent the day attending workshops on topics including upstander training, enhancing their school’s GSA Club, LGBT history, community and youth organizing, health and social justice.

“This annual event helps to empower students to advocate for positive social and health-related choices as well as being able to learn and share in a supportive environment,” Ms. Britt said.

More than 500 students and 600 participants were in attendance at the conference, touted as the largest to date.

Spear’s Science Sleuths

The Scientific Method was at work at the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School Science Fair with a vast display of well-thought-out and creative experiments conducted by students that included demonstrations, charts and diagrams on topics such as magnets, melting ice, colors, flavors, sounds and numerous other original cause-and-effect relationships. Great job to all the participants and congratulations to the grade level winners:

Kindergarten: Carter Maleson
Project Title: Ice Cream Soup

First Grade: Lina Awadallah
Project Title: Wind Turbine

Second Grade: Joshua Levine
Project Title: Meteorites

Third Grade: Nina Gnatenko
Project Title: Shiny Penny

Fourth Grade: Nick Rodriguez
Project Title: Who is braver men or women?

Fifth Grade: Sadie Salzman
Project Title: Mighty Mollusks

Impressive Placement at Latin Certamen!

Impressive Placement at Latin Certamen
Port Jeff students competed in a Latin Certamen with students from schools across Nassau and Suffolk County at Stony Brook University on March 26.

The fast-paced Latin contest tests students’ knowledge of Latin grammar, vocabulary, word derivations, Roman life, history, mythology and literature. The middle school and high school students competed on the level of Latin in which they are enrolled.

The district had one eighth-grade team compete at Level I, two ninth-grade teams compete at Level II, two tenth-grade teams compete at Level III, and two teams compete at the Advanced Level. The students had impressive placements throughout the competition.

Coached by Latin teacher Anne Algieri, the Port Jefferson teams who placed at this year’s Certamen are: first place, Level One Team - Luke Dickhuth, Teppei Fukuto, Benjamin Perez-Flesler and Olivia Schlegel; first place, Level Two Team A - Annie Maier, Andrew Patterson, Stephano Rabeno and Kate Sommerstad; third place, Level Two Team B - Kasumi Layne-Stasik, Hugo Onghai, Caelan Schretzmayer and Hunter Volpi; first place, Level Three Team A - Aaron Held, Mattea Rabeno, Grant Samara and Peggy Yin; second place, Level Three Team B - Liam Gameng, Ameen Khan, Michela Rabeno and Lucas Welinder; first place, Advanced Level Team A - Katie Ambrozy, David Rotunno, Ava Schully and Annalisa Welinder.

Board Appoints New Superintendent of Schools

Board Appoints New Superintendent of Schools photo
Board Appoints New Superintendent of Schools photo 2
After a comprehensive search and selection process led by the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education, months of extensive research, interviews with a strong field of candidates and community input, the Board announced the appointment of Jessica Schmettan as superintendent of schools at the April 9 Board of Education meeting. She will take the leadership reins on Nov. 1.

Mrs. Schmettan currently serves as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Each board member took the time to praise Mrs. Schmettan, a community resident, for the arduous and competitive process she endured, her effective communication skills, her commitment to high academic standards and her willingness to take on the financial challenges that lie ahead.

“These seven board members took this responsibility with extreme seriousness,” Board of Education President Kathleen Brennan said of the Board of Education. “There were other strong candidates and the Board was committed to selecting the best candidate that we could for Port Jefferson, and I am confident that we have done that. I am very happy that Mrs. Schmettan is our leader going forward.”

Mrs. Schmettan thanked the Board for having confidence in her abilities and applauded both current Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano for his mentorship and Deputy Superintendent Sean Leister for his support during the process. Dr. Casciano, who will stay on for the transition period and will retire from the district on Oct. 31, was also praised by the Board for his leadership, guidance and bringing stability to the district.

“Like many of our residents, our schools are the reason my husband and I moved here nine years ago,” Mrs. Schmettan said. “I am so grateful to be able to serve in the place that I call home. As a parent, a taxpayer and an educator, I am deeply invested in our school community. I value our history and, even with the challenges ahead, I look forward to an incredible future.”

Oh, Say, Can She Sing!

High School vocalist Katherine Kirsch was invited by the Port Jefferson Lions Club to perform the national anthem at their March 21st meeting. Katherine, a sophomore, was accompanied to the meeting by music teacher Maria Diaz. Thank you, Katherine, for representing the music program in the Port Jefferson schools!

An Act of Kindness Spreads to Village

An Act of Kindness Spreads to Village photo
As part of a class project, students in Dana St. Pierre’s fourth-grade class thought about some random acts of kindness that they could do and came up with various ideas including washing dishes for a mother who works late, checking on an elderly neighbor, saying something encouraging to a schoolmate or just giving a smile to help someone feel better. Student Hudson Philbrick decided to write a letter to the members of the Port Jefferson Fire Department and hand deliver it. He thanked the firefighters for their commitment to the local community and their dedication and service to the residents of Port Jefferson. He, in turn, was met with an act of kindness when he received a certificate from the fire department for his kind words.

“People should always be ready to commit a random act of kindness,” Hudson said. “It’s something you will always feel good about.”

Cultivating multi-dimensional wellness

Cultivating multi-dimensional wellness photo
Port Jefferson Middle School and Edna Louise Spear Elementary School teachers continue to gain valuable instructional and behavioral tools to incorporate into their classrooms with the district’s partnership with Diane McDonald from It Takes a Village Wellness in Port Jefferson village.

Breathing, movement, mindfulness techniques and social emotional activities are taught and classroom challenges are discussed during the professional development sessions that help meet the needs of students and staff alike.

Lighting it Up Blue

Lighting it Up Blue photo
Port Jefferson Middle School students and staff took part in World Autism Awareness Day when they shared their support and acceptance of Autism by wearing blue.

The students were inspired by one another to celebrate the diversity of the global community and to help strengthen the message that speaks out against discrimination.

“We had a great turnout,” special education teacher Christina Carlson said.

Messages of Tolerance and Acceptance

As an enhancement to the eighth-grade social studies curriculum, students at Port Jefferson Middle School learned important lessons on tolerance and injustice from Werner Reich who described his personal experiences as a young boy growing up and surviving the Holocaust.

Organized by teacher Kayleen Everitt and welcomed and introduced by students Kenneth Dixon-Lanza and Nicolina Gionnala, Mr. Reich shared a personal story of hardship and fortitude peppered with wisdom and inspirational messages that he hoped would resonate with today’s generation.
Before he took to the podium, student Peyton Broyles gave an overview of a poetry assignment that the class worked on and students Sophie Blumenthal, Regan Byrne and Ruby Ray read their own words of inspiration.

The dynamic presentation continued when students viewed a comprehensive slideshow that featured photos, political cartoons and newspaper articles written during World War ll.

“It is of utmost importance that we educate and inform each other so that history doesn’t repeat itself and so that nothing similar can ever happen in the future,” said Kenneth in his welcoming remarks.

Revised 2018-19 School Calendar

No School Closures for Weather Emergencies this School Year
NO SCHOOL on April 17, May 24, May 28
As a result of not losing any school days due to weather emergencies or any other reason this school year, the following changes are being made to the Port Jefferson School District’s calendar for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year.
All schools will be closed for classes on: Wednesday, April 17th, Friday, May 24th and Tuesday, May 28th.

Classical Masterclass for Music Students

Music students from the middle school were recently visited by members of the Three Village Chamber Players, a classical ensemble. During the visit, the group held a masterclass with Dr. Vanessa Salzman’s sixth-grade orchestra students followed by a performance for several of the middle school music ensembles. Featuring the music of Mozart and Brahms, the group also addressed the unique musical skills required for performing in a small ensemble.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have performers of this caliber help to continue to build upon the successful music program in our schools,” Dr. Michael Caravello, the district’s director of music and fine arts said. “Their goals of working to be an essential source of artistry in Suffolk County align with our mission of encouraging students to explore and discover meaningful and creative participation in musical and fine arts experiences.”

Girls Basketball All-League Honors

Girls Basketball All-League Honors
Congratulations to the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School girls basketball team for their accomplishments this season and players Hailey Hearney, Lola Idir, Abigail Rolfe and Evelyn Walker for their All-League honors.

Hailey was a two-time award winner, scoring 7.3 points per game, with a 4.5 average per game, 36 steals and 18 three-point field goals. Lola was honored with both All-League and All-Conference honors for her record of 15.6 points per game, a 2.2 average per game, 36 steals and 37 three-point field goals. Abigail received 7.9 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game and Evelyn scored 6.7 points per game and 25 three-point field goals. Congratulations!

Board of Education Will Not Pursue Appeal of Court Decision

The Port Jefferson Board of Education approved a motion at their meeting on Tuesday night, March 26, 2019, to rescind the appeal of the State Supreme Court Short Form Order. The decision by Justice Emerson on August 15, 2018 had dismissed all of Port Jefferson School District’s pending causes of action against the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). Since that time, the Town of Brookhaven entered into an agreement with LIPA on December 14, 2018 regarding property tax assessment of the plant which indirectly impacts the District.

Although the District believes the State Supreme Court decision was in error, the Town’s settlement and the ongoing cost of contesting the decision were main considerations in the Board’s decision. The Port Jefferson School District is ready to move forward and meet the fiscal challenges in the post Town-LIPA settlement era.

Port Jeff Problem Solvers!

An educationally enriching experience took place for Port Jefferson Middle School students when they participated in the 2018-19 annual sixth-grade New York Mathematics League contest.

Sixth-graders Thales Cheng, Sofia Freitas, Evan Monaghan, Emily Snyder and Colin Veit worked together on the academically oriented competition, which consisted of a variety of math topics, including algebra, geometry and problem-solving. According to sixth-grade math teacher Megan Ryan, they enjoyed the challenge and are on a positive path in exploring further mathematical ideas.

“This is an exceptional achievement and the students definitely benefit from the challenge by learning how to think about and solve complex problems,” Ms. Ryan said.

Promoting the Pillars of Character

Promoting the Pillars of Character photo
Students in Michael Maletta’s seventh-grade health class have been learning about the six pillars of character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship – and were assigned to create posters to promote the positive and negative aspects of each pillar.

“They are learning that these core ethical values are essential in helping them to think before they act,” Mr. Maletta said, “and to reinforce that they are responsible and accountable for their choices.”

Freshman Hugo Onghai Performs at Carnegie Hall

As part of the New York International Competition for Young Artists, Earl L. Vandermeulen High School music student Hugo Onghai was recently featured as a cello soloist at Weill Hall at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall. A ninth-grader, Hugo performed French composer Gabriel Faure’s “Sicilienne, Op. 78.” His performance was from memory and his unique opportunity to perform was a result of his second-prize win in the NYIC’s Young Professional Strings Category for students between the ages of 13 and 18.

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.
Monday, May 20, 2019