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Senior to Represent Music Program at State Conference

Senior to Represent Music Program at State Conference photo
Congratulations to senior Ava Schully who was selected to participate in the New York State School Music Association All-State Winter Conference in Rochester, NY from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

Ava will perform on cello with the All-State String Orchestra. She will sit among the finest student-musicians across New York State.

The rigorous process for selecting an All-State musician includes teacher recommendations, audition scores at the NYSSMA solo evaluation festival during the prior spring and participation in other performing organizations.

“Congratulations to Ava for representing the Port Jefferson School District’s music program with pride,” said Michael Caravello, the district’s director of music and fine arts.


A work session of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on October 23, 2018, 7:00 p.m., at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School.  The session will be a presentation on ESSA and will be live-streamed via the school district website.

A special meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on October 30, 2018, 6:00 p.m., at the District Office, for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss a personnel matter.

The regular monthly business meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on November 13, 2018, at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School.  Call to order will be 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss legal and personnel matters.  Regular business meetings of the Board of Education are live-streamed via the school district website.  Business meeting agendas are available on the district’s website the day prior to the meeting.  

Combining Athletics and Altruism to Spike Out Cancer

Combining Athletics and Altruism to Spike Out Cancer photo
High school students combined athletics and altruism when the girls varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams hosted a Dig Pink breast cancer awareness fundraiser on Oct. 5.

The team members sold paper volleyballs to decorate a large poster adorned with pink ribbons and titled Spiking Out Cancer. Their efforts raised more than $1,500, which will benefit the Side-Out Foundation, an organization that unites high school volleyball players and coaches as they work to help further breast cancer awareness, education and patient services.

A royal thanks to coach Douglas VonBargen and the girls volleyball teams: varsity members, seniors Ashley Catoggio, Taylor Catoggio, Lia Desmond, Brett Dooley and Samantha Miceli; juniors Samantha Ayotte, Kelli Booker, Emily Bossert, Kylie Melzer, Ava Napoli and Chloe Simunek and sophomore Evelyn Walker; and junior varsity players, sophomores Emily Brown, Calli Saieva, Selena Ueno and Peggy Yin; and freshmen Olivia Alvarez, Lucy DeWitt, Emily Hearney, Kasumi Layne-Stasik and Payton Melzer.

The team set up an online fundraising platform, for those who may want to contribute:

Port Jefferson School District Armed Forces Tribute Project Fundraiser

This fundraiser is sponsored by the New York Jets football team to support the Port Jefferson School District. For every 300 level seat sold, the district receives $5. For every seat 200 level seat or lower, the district receives $10. The funds this season will be used to support the PJSD Armed Forces Tribute project.


Honored for a Commitment to Learning

Honored for a Commitment to Learning photo
Seventh-grader Michael Melikyan’s motivation, hard work and dedication paved his way to earn a student of the month award and recognition by the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson.

Michael’s conscientious commitment to the learning process is a primary reason why he was nominated by English teacher Deirdre Filippi and unanimously selected by the entire seventh grade faculty for the honor.

County honors for notable musical achievements

County honors for notable musical achievements photo
Four high school students will represent the district’s music program when they participate in the New York State Council of Administrators for Music Education All-County Music Festival.

Sinan Ates, Rachel Park, Ryan Robertson and David Rotunno will take part in the festival at Connetquot and Half Hollow Hills East High Schools on Nov. 7th, 15th and 16th. They were selected along with other student-musicians from across Suffolk County on a competitive basis with New York State School Music Association scores as the main criteria along with teacher recommendations.


Wall of Fame inductees honored for integrity, compassion and community service

Wall of Fame inductees honored for integrity, compassion and community service photo

A ceremony was held to celebrate the newest inductees into the school’s Wall of Fame on Oct. 5. The three honorees – Honor Gracey Kopcienski, David Okst and Heather West-Serignese were recognized for their extraordinary achievements in the local community.

The intimate ceremony, held in the school’s library, was followed by a tour of the building led by the school’s Student Organization. Introduced by Principal Christine Austen, who thanked them for their generosity and spirit and reiterated the importance of giving back to community, each honoree was lauded by a member of the Student Organization. They were presented with plaques to take home, enjoyed lunch and an unveiling of the plaques on the Wall of Fame.

Honor Gracey Kopcienski, Class of 1950, who died in 2016, was honored posthumously. Her son Matthew (Class of 1989), daughter Elizabeth Schwartz (Class of 1972), and son-in-law Joseph Schwartz (Class of 1971) represented her – her husband was in St. Maarten helping with hurricane relief efforts. Elizabeth Schwartz spoke of her mother and father as people who understood the struggles of others and were the kind of people who always did something to help. She hoped her mother’s plaque on the wall would be inspiration to the students who walked past to also become the kind of people who do something to help others.

David Okst, Class of 1985, who enjoyed a successful high school and college career as a scholar-athlete, is a coach for the Port Jefferson boys varsity cross country and winter and spring track teams. He was introduced by senior Reid Biondo and recognized for his extensive kindness, compassion, community service and altruism.

Heather West-Serignese, Class of 1999, now a resident of Nashville, TN, was recognized for public service, school/community service. She was nominated by her business partner Emily Ciancarelli for her local contributions as well as her exceptional life accomplishments. In addition to being an accomplished chef and working in many cities around the country, she started the non-profit organ East End Play Dates, which now has multiple chapters, to support mothers and their children.

Gymnasium Floor Replacement

As a result of the significant water damage caused by the September storm, the gymnasium floor at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School has begun to buckle. To ensure the safety of our students and staff, the district has begun to remove the damaged flooring and will be installing a new floor in the coming weeks. As such, the gymnasium will be closed and physical education classes will be relocated.  The project, which is expected to take 4-6 weeks, will be covered by the district’s insurance policy. It is our hope that the work will be complete in time for the start of the winter sports season.

It’s all about that bass!

It’s all about that bass! photo
Sophomore Jack Reilly had an exceptional musical experience when he attended the School of Orchestral Studies of the New York State Summer School of the Arts.

Jack, who plays bass, was part of a group of approximately 80 students with outstanding talent in instrumental music who were selected through a rigorous statewide audition process to participate in the prestigious program held at Skidmore College and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

During the four week program, he spent approximately 40 hours per week in rehearsals and performance and worked with instructors on developing his skills. He was coached in musicology and ensemble performance and attended seminars, lectures and concerts.

Jack began his musical studies at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School and credits music teacher Dr. Vanessa Salzman and Director of Music and Fine Arts Dr. Michael Caravello with his continued interest in perfecting his musical skills throughout his high school career.

National Merit Honors for 5 Seniors

National Merit Honors for 5 Seniors photo
Noted for demonstrating exceptional academic promise, five students have been named Commended Students in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Seniors Joshua Gelfond, Ju Eun Ha, Ryan Robertson, David Rotunno and Ava Schully, have been recognized for their outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The students are among approximately 34,000 high school students nationwide who were awarded the distinction by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Congratulations on this achievement!

A Homecoming Win for the Royals

A Homecoming Win for the Royals photo

Capping off a week of school-spirited events and a parade complete with floats from each grade level, the Royals football team took the homecoming win against Bayport-Blue Point 34-16 on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Many spectators were in town to celebrate their 40-year high school reunion and joined in the festivities by riding in the parade and cheering on the Royals. Others lined the streets of Port Jefferson Village as the students and Disney-themed floats, student-musicians led by music teacher Mark Abbonizio, families, Board of Education members, teachers and administrators shared their royal pride.

LIPA Update - Oct. 9

The Port Jefferson School District’s Board of Education has voted to move forward with an appeal of New York State Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Emerson’s decision to dismiss the district’s third-party litigation against LIPA. This suit was brought to enforce a promise given by LIPA not to reduce our tax revenue while also giving us a voice in a matter that has a significant impact on the school district. The decision against the district removed our right to have a voice in the negotiations.

Please be assured that the district’s decision to begin the appeal process was made after considerable deliberation. Weighing all options and past efforts, the Board unanimously decided that it was incumbent upon the district to continue to fight to have a voice in this matter to ensure that the voices of Port Jefferson residents were properly heard.

The district will work to finalize its appeal over the next six months, after which LIPA will be afforded a chance to prepare counterarguments. According to our legal team, this process could take more than a year to complete. The Board does have the option of withdrawing from the appeal process if they so choose.

Ace in Academics and on the Green

Ace in Academics and on the Green photo
Congratulations to senior Shane DeVincenzo, who has received a scholarship to attend Fairfield University as a member of its golf team for the 2019-20 school year. He intends to major in Business.

Shane’s numerous accolades as a student in Port Jefferson extend beyond his GPA of 95.33, his senior class load – which includes Advanced Placement macroeconomics and AP calculus, Honors English, College statistics, physics, physical education and ceramics – his National Honor Society membership, his above average SAT scores and as a member of the varsity wrestling team.

He has been a five-year varsity starter, four time All League, three time All County, three time state qualifier, two time All Long Island and two time All State winner. Shane also qualified for the Federation Cup in 2017 and was the individual Suffolk County champion in the 2017-18 season, winning the title by six shots over the second place finisher. He made a hole-in-one in match when he was a sophomore and shot 33 on nine holes. Shane holds an individual record of 28-3-1 over the last three years prior to the start of this season which he is now 4-0.

“Shane is the hardest working kid I’ve ever been around in my career coaching and working in golf,” Charles Ruoff, Port Jefferson boys varsity golf coach said.

Senior Named Rensselaer Medal Winner

Senior Named Rensselaer Medal Winner photo
Congratulations to high school senior Annalisa Welinder who has been named a Rensselaer Medal winner for her excellence in math and science. She was nominated for the award by science teacher Michel Krivosta who retired in June after 40 years of teaching in Port Jefferson. The merit scholarship has a value of $100,000, guaranteed for four years of study at the institution, determined by her application and ultimate acceptance. Its goal is to motivate the next generation of leaders, scientists, innovators, scholars and humanitarians, among others.

Students Come Together in Unity

Students Come Together in Unity photo
Students in the Port Jefferson School District took time during a recent Saturday to work on a mural in the district’s English as a New Language classroom. Not only adding color but a sense of unity was the goal when students and ENL teacher Jennifer Walling brainstormed ideas for the project.

The undertaking was all designed, painted and completed by the students, with student-artist Gabriela Sanchez managing the design of the globe and selecting the word “hello” in various languages that she wrote by hand.

“We were inspired by a photo that we saw online and loved the multi-cultural hands as not only does it represent the world and bring us all together but it signifies who we are as an ENL community,” said Ms. Walling.

The languages represent the diverse cultural backgrounds of the students and the room’s festive artwork is an invitation to a mini haven for the students before or after school and during study halls and lunch periods.

A Look Inside our Schools


A Royal Homecoming

A Royal Homecoming photo
Share our Port Jeff pride on Saturday, Oct. 6 with our homecoming parade that features the creative floats of our four high school classes Cheer on our student-musicians as they perform throughout the village streets and march alongside teachers, families, administrators and other spectators starting at 11 a.m. as you make your way to the game starting at 2 p.m. against Bayport-Blue Point. Come out and show your royal pride!



Peace in Port Jefferson

Peace in Port Jefferson photo

The Port Jefferson School District celebrated the International Day of Peace through activities sponsored by the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Student Organization.

As part of the observance, Student Organization members decorated school hallways, lockers and classrooms with messages of peace and shared music with positive, peaceful themes that was broadcast over the loudspeaker between classes.

Visual arts students districtwide worked collaboratively to create artwork centered around the idea of togetherness and world peace. They worked in a variety of mediums including acrylics, watercolors, colored pencils, pastels and ink to depict Tibetan mandala designs, pin wheels for peace, sunflowers from observation, and symbols representative of peace.

With an opportunity to be selected for display at the Suffolk County Executive Offices, some of the students’ works were submitted to the annual Shanti Fund Peace Art competition.

Sharing a Carnegie Hall Experience

Sharing a Carnegie Hall Experience photo
Students in Maria Diaz’ seventh- and eighth-grade chorus class at Port Jefferson Middle School enjoyed a musical lesson when classmate Chloe Pipia shared with them her experience at the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York concert at Carnegie Hall. She spoke to them about her favorite song, Rollo Dilworth’s “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Listening to a recording of the song and highlighting the piece’s energetic rhythms and great melody, she and the students discussed what they appreciated about the piece of music.

District Buildings Suffer Flood Damage

The torrential rain last Tuesday evening, September 25th, created flooding conditions throughout Port Jefferson Village. Our school district was not spared. The elementary school and middle school/high school experienced some flooding in various areas of the buildings. We are in the process of assessing the damage and pursuing applicable insurance coverage. We will provide updated information when it is available.  

ELA Extravaganza

ELA Extravaganza photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students had an interesting culmination to their summer reading project. After reading Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” they came together to discuss the famed piece of literary work.

“We wanted to give students frequent, informal and meaningful opportunities to test the waters of literary analysis and hone their skills,” said English teacher Eva Grasso. The process gave students a new understanding of the piece of literature being examined, as well as the process of literary analysis.”

The in-class discussions for the students were opportunities to ask questions, clarify confusions and share observations before taking part in a grade 9-12 inter-class discussion to hear different viewpoints on the story’s character development, structure, style, symbolism and other content issues.

According to Ms. Grasso, these discussions left more students engaged and more questions addressed.

Accolades for 22 AP Scholars

Accolades for 22 AP Scholars photo
As a result of their scholastic dedication and performance, 22 of our high school students have been recognized by the College Board as AP Scholars.

The designation was given in recognition of each student’s demonstration of exceptional college-level achievement through their performance on national AP exams. Of the 22 students, five were named AP Scholars, eight earned the recognition of AP Scholar with Honor, nine were named as an AP Scholar with Distinction and two were named National AP Scholars.

The students recognized are:

AP Scholar
Monica Alexander, Arda Ates, Phoenix Jampol, Jillian Lawler and Olivia Weldon.

AP Scholar with Honor
Katherine Ambrozy, Joseph Cangemi, Gavin Chambers, Tianna Couch, Ju Eun Ha, Ryan Kim, Kyle Onghai and Giuseppina Than.

AP Scholar with Distinction
Gavin Barrett, Reid Biondo, Cameron Cohen, Joshua Gelfond, Eadan McSweeney, David Rotunno, Ava Schully, Annalisa Welinder and Robert Zeidler.

National AP Scholar
David Rotunno and Annalisa Welinder.

On behalf of the entire school community, congratulations!

Annalisa Welinder Named National Merit Semifinalist

Annalisa Welinder Named National Merit Semifinalist photo
The Port Jefferson School District community congratulates senior Annalisa Welinder who has qualified as a semifinalist in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Annalisa’s love of learning and outstanding academic talent extend beyond the advanced courses she takes in school. She is a member of the Academic Team, the Latin Club and Mathletes. She also competes on behalf of the school on both the tennis and track teams.

In addition to her impressive academic accomplishments, Annalisa has attended Julliard’s pre-college division music program since fifth grade to perfect her exceptional violin skills. She also takes an applied linear algebra class through Suffolk County Community College. Reading, graphic design and writing poetry round out her varied interests.

The Voice of Her Peers

The Voice of Her Peers photo
Senior Chloe Andriani will serve as the voice of her peers as a student representative to the Board of Education in the 2018-19 school year.

Chloe’s role will be to report on student activities and upcoming events at the Board’s monthly meetings. She was elected to the position by her classmates at the end of the last school year.

In addition to serving as a nonvoting Board of Education representative and being a successful, well-rounded student, Chloe is a member of the Environmental Club, Interact Club, Latin Club, Leo Club, National Honor Society, Science Olympiad and varsity cheer team. She is also senior class president of the Student Organization, on the softball team, performs in the school’s orchestra and has been involved in dance for the past 14 years.

Lessons in Empathy

Lessons in Empathy photo
Edna Louise Spear Elementary School students started the academic year on a positive note of learning to understand decision-making skills and a popular book had a starring role in their discussion. Assistant Principal Claudia Smith read Ryan T. Higgins’ popular “We Don't Eat Our Classmates” to all the kindergarten and first grade classes. After reading the story about forming friendships and good choices in regards to behavior, they had the opportunity to share instances of making mistakes and learning from them.

Community Connections

Community Connections photo
We invite you to join us for our School-Community Connection Series, providing information and conversation about the Port Jefferson School District community. These open discussions are an opportunity to engage with some of the important components that are integral to the educational success of our students and the future of our district.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 LIPA and the Impact on Port Jeff Schools
Thursday, November 8, 2018 School Safety and Security
Thursday, January 24, 2019 Traditions and Progress: Can They Coexist?
Thursday, March 21, 2019 Instructional Programs: Setting Priorities
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 To Be Determined

Meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School library. We welcome your participation.


LIFEGUARDS NEEDED for Community Swim at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School. Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6:30-8:30 pm.
CPR certification, first aid certification and lifeguard certification required. Experience preferred. Please download and complete the school district application and mail it to Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, Athletic Department, 350 Old Post Road, Port Jefferson, NY 11777, or email it to:<>.

The application is located at:</>

Perspective on the LIPA Challenge Facing Port Jefferson

Legal actions taken by the Town, Village and School District to generate an equitable solution to the LIPA tax assessment challenges are intended to protect its residents and children against exorbitant property tax increases; especially in a very short interval of time. The Mayor and the Village of Port Jefferson Trustees, the Supervisor and the Brookhaven Town Council, and the Superintendent and the Port Jefferson Board of Education are all pursuing what they believe is best for their constituents.

The Port Jefferson School District is not a tax assessing entity like the Town of Brookhaven or the Village of Port Jefferson, although it does receive school tax revenue collected by the Town. Despite this fact, the District was criticized by some residents for not being more active in the LIPA legal battle back in 2010. After a few years of contributing to the Village’s research studies and legal fees to challenge LIPA’s claims, the District began its own course of action. The District’s legal battle is based on the premise that it has a vested interest in the tax assessment challenge because, although it does not assess or receive taxes directly, it can be significantly impacted financially should the court rule in favor of LIPA.

Please know, that the District fully understands that the decision about engaging legal counsel is one to be made with great care, as it always carries a financial implication while never guaranteeing a verdict in one’s favor. Therefore, as a District, we needed to consider if not being involved in a legal battle to protect those with whom we are entrusted is actually more costly than risking a court ruling that may not be in our favor. It was the District’s decision, after carefully weighing all options, that it was our obligation to our taxpayers to fight for our right to take part in the negotiation process – to at least attempt to allow our voices to be heard during the litigation process. With the support and encouragement of our residents, we worked to advocate for this chance instead of idling sitting by and waiting for a decision – one in which we had no input – to be made.  

We are disappointed that Justice Emerson did not rule in our favor in August with regard to our pursuit of having a third party interest in the legal issue with LIPA.  On a positive note, our legal action may have contributed to a delay in the process of reaching a tax assessment settlement.  This delay could very well have saved our district millions of dollars from the point we initiated legal action. This setback does not define how this lawsuit may influence the ultimate outcome of the Town’s negotiations with LIPA and may help to contribute to a more equitable resolution in the long-term. 

The Port Jefferson Board of Education is discussing whether or not to appeal the recent Judge’s decision. 

We have heard rumors that there may be a resolution to the LIPA issue this school year and that revenue from property taxes may not continue in its present form in the future. However, the details of which are not clear nor are they finalized. But the reality is, no matter what the resolution is, the status quo we are accustomed to in Port Jefferson is bound to be altered.  

As a School District, the real challenge for us moving forward will be to balance the impact of any reduction in LIPA’s assessment between our responsibility to maintain an outstanding educational program for the children of our community and our concern for the financial impact on our community residents’ property taxes. We believe the impact should be shared.

We have a deep sense of belief in our district and in our community.  We are strong and resilient. We can handle adversity and emerge stronger and wiser as a result.  We are committed to working together to persevere and continue to provide an outstanding education to the children of the Port Jefferson school community. 

A Musical Message of Remembrance

A Musical Message of Remembrance photo
Members of the middle school’s seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra paid tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, by giving a moving performance during the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s annual 9/11 memorial service. Led by music teacher and Port Jefferson volunteer fireman Christian Neubert, students Alexa Ayotte, Tabitha Schully, Olivia Schlegel, Anna Rebic and Teppei Fukuto performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.”

Important Safety Message from Suffolk Police


Middle School Students Recognize 9/11

Middle School Students Recognize 9/11 photo
As Port Jefferson Middle School students settled into the first week of school, they also took time to pause in honor of those affected by the events of September 11.

Students were encouraged to share their patriotism by wearing the colors of the American flag to recognize the courage of the first responders, the ordinary people who became heroes and the families of those who lost their lives on the day that is now part of our history.

“We want our students to understand the spirit of unity that occurred after that tragic day,” said teacher Monica Consalvo. “As they were not even born in 2001, it is important to know that the American vitality still prevails.”

Sunflowers Shine in Student Artwork

Sunflowers Shine in Student Artwork photo
Students in Meghan McCarthy’s second-grade art class brought the exuberant brilliance of sunflowers into their first assignments of the school year. They are learning the elements of design in art simply by observing the late summer flower in the organic line drawing unit of study.

“They are recognizing the visual components of color, form, line and shape before even putting pencil to paper,” said Mrs. McCarthy.

New BOE Member Sworn In

New BOE Member Sworn In photo
The Port Jefferson School District Board of Education has appointed Ryan Biedenkapp to the Board seat vacated by Adam DeWitt, who served the district for two full terms and resigned on Aug 1. to commit to other professional and personal obligations.

The Board discussed several options including leaving the seat open, holding a special election or appointing someone to fill the seat until the May 2019 vote. Biedenkapp was the fourth highest vote getter at the May election. He swore the oath of office administered by District Clerk Janice Baisley on Sept. 4.

Port Jefferson District Plans and Prepares for 2018-19 School Year

Port Jefferson District Plans and Prepares for 2018-19 School Year photo
Proactive measures and protocols were on the agenda for the faculty, staff and administrators during Superintendent’s Conference Days.

After a welcome by Superintendent Dr. Paul Casciano and Board of Education President Kathleen Brennan, staff members took part in numerous workshops that reflected on the theme of “Keeping Our Students and Staff Safe.”

Guest speakers from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, the Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence were in attendance to lead the Port Jefferson educational community in procedures and actions to enhance the security and protection of all who enter the district buildings.

The two-day conference also featured a mindfulness lesson with high school teacher Dawn DeLeonardis, as well as planning and collaboration among faculty members and administrators.

Recharged and Ready for a New School Year

Recharged and Ready for a New School Year photo
Ready for an academic year filled with educational opportunities and achievements, hundreds of students were welcomed back to school in the Port Jefferson School District on Sept. 4.

Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, Port Jefferson Middle School and Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students got right to work, getting to know their teachers, becoming familiar with their new schedules and navigating the routes to their classrooms as they settle into the autumn routine of school days.

Incoming Class of 2031 experience bus ride to school

Incoming Class of 2031 experience bus ride to school photo

Incoming kindergarten students at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School had an opportunity to experience their new routine to school with a bus ride before the start of classes on Sept. 4.

The traditional event helps to prepare students for their entry into kindergarten and become familiar with their school and new classmates.
Parent volunteers were on hand to greet them with cookies and drinks before they enjoyed the playground and Gaga ball pit.

New Staff Learn the essentials of Our Educational Community

New Staff Learn the essentials of Our Educational Community photo

The district welcomed new members to its educational community during a new staff orientation, setting a positive tone for expectations of professionalism and instruction. Covering a wide range of topics, the detailed program helped to ensure a smooth transition into their new roles in the district.

From becoming familiar with the district’s technology and resources, to taking a bus tour throughout the district and Port Jefferson Village, led by Edna Louise Spear Elementary School Principal Thomas Meehan, the new staff members learned the Port Jefferson School District’s goal of creating a rigorous learning environment for students that encourages individual interests, talents and potential.

New to the district are Lauren Berry, speech teacher; Maria Garcia, music leave replacement; Melissa Garcia, science; Charles Hafner, science; Dannie Holland Jr., teaching assistant; Omar Karasu, teaching assistant; Kristin Laudicina, clerical; Jessica Meaney, teaching assistant; Cassandra Meehan, teaching assistant; Jennifer Mezzatesta, teaching assistant; Melissa Mott, teaching assistant; Valeria O’Brien, teacher of LOTE; Alexandra Peskin, teaching assistant; Danielle Post, music leave replacement; Amy Serr, physical education and health; and Kathleen Thrash, teaching assistant. Both Holland and Meehan began their careers in Port Jefferson during the middle of the 2017-18 school year and were welcomed during the staff orientation days.

“We are pleased to welcome these new members to our school community,” said Jessica Schmettan, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. “We look forward to a successful year of their talents in helping to stimulate the academic successes of all our students.”


Important Message Regarding the Superintendent

At yesterday’s Board of Education meeting, the Port Jefferson School Board accepted a letter of resignation from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano, effective June 30, 2019. The District thanks Dr. Casciano for his unwavering leadership since 2016 and his commitment to serve the district beyond the initial interim role. This departure was one that Dr. Casciano and the Board serving at that time agreed upon before the extended contract was ratified in 2016, at which point Dr. Casciano agreed to an extended two school years of service through the 2018-2019 school year.

“I thank Dr. Casciano for his service to Port Jefferson,” said Board President Kathleen Brennan. “Dr. Casciano did not come looking for Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson went looking for Dr. Casciano when we were looking for an interim superintendent. He will be a tough act to follow.”

The Board will be meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the next steps to search for a new superintendent of schools.

A copy of the letter Dr. Casciano submitted to the Board of Education is attached below.


Honoring the next generation of community leaders

Honoring the next generation of community leaders photo
2018 graduates Samantha Acampora and Cezanne Lojeski were presented with scholarships by the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson for their collective community service projects. Samantha was honored with the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson Community Service Scholarship. In September, she will begin her post-high school studies at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Cezanne received the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson Interact Recognition Award. She will start her college career at the University of Pennsylvania. Principal Christine Austen commended the students for their extraordinary service to the community and wished them well on their higher education goals.

Hello Sixth-graders!

Hello Sixth-graders photo

Incoming middle school students became acquainted with their new school at the sixth-grade back-to-school social on Aug. 22.

The annual welcome event helps to prepare students for their entry into middle school, familiarize them with the layout of the building and is an opportunity to catch up with classmates and seek new friendships for the upcoming academic year. The festive atmosphere was the backdrop for the PTSA-sponsored pizza, beverages and flavored ices served by parent volunteers.

Students were met by Principal Dr. Robert Neidig, who presented each of them a welcome gift of earbuds, which are a necessity for the school’s Google classroom features. Dr. Neidig then spoke about the independence that comes from being in middle school as well as the responsibilities, including cultivating the characteristics of good citizenship.

Assistant Principal Claudia Smith and numerous teachers were on hand to greet the students, who also toured the school, worked on opening their assigned lockers, picked up their school supplies and were given their class schedules.

Fall Sports Overview

Fall Sports Overview photo
Please join Port Jeff’s new Athletic Director Adam Sherrard and the fall sports coaches on Monday, August 27 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium for an overview of the fall sports season. Parents/guardians of all varsity and junior varsity student-athletes are encouraged to attend. Frank McCoy of Advanced S.P.O.R.T.S. Physical Therapy will be the guest speaker.

Spotless audit commends district’s efficiency

Spotless audit commends district’s efficiency photo
The Port Jefferson School District received an audit report from the Office of the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability that lauded its continued commitment to fiscal responsibility.

The goal of the audit is to provide objective analysis to assist those governing and overseeing payment performance and operations and initiate corrective actions if needed. The audit reviewed dozens of both general fund and extra-classroom activity claims totaling more than $300,000 and found that the district’s voucher system has been properly established and implemented by the Board of Education.

“This report reflects proper oversight by the Board of Education and the stringent controls put in place and carried out by our Business Office personnel,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano said. “The carefully conducted examination and positive results are a testament to the district’s comprehensive policies and procedures for claims payments.”

The report, which included comprehensive information from the audit period conducted between July 2016 and September 2017, highlighted the criteria for an effective claims process and noted that Port Jefferson’s thorough review and adequate procedures and segregation of duties were properly executed.

“The examination reviews all district processes and then thoroughly focuses on one particular area for detail testing,” Deputy Superintendent Sean Leister said. “Given that there were no negative findings indicates the district’s claims process has an overall well-designed system. As our district places a strong emphasis on ensuring tax dollars are spent effectively and efficiently, we are pleased with the outcome of this auditing process, as it reinforces from an external perspective.”
Thursday, October 18, 2018