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All-state honors for Hailey Hearney!

back to school image
Congratulations to student-athlete Hailey Hearney who was awarded the honor of Class B, third team All-State for girls soccer. She is ranked as the No. 33 girls soccer player in New York State for Class B schools.

“Being represented at the state level is a great honor for any student-athlete and Hailey is well deserving,” coach Taylor Forstell said.

The recognition comes on the heels of a tremendous season for Hailey, in which she led Suffolk County in goals at 21 and helped lead Port Jefferson to the brink of a playoff spot.

“Girls soccer in New York State is highly competitive and it takes a special player to receive All-State honors,” Forstell continued. “Hailey proves day in and day out why she was named as an All-State player. She is the type of player that coaches can build winning traditions around and we are glad to have her leading the way for the Port Jefferson girls soccer program.”

Student-musicians perform at the Charles Dickens Festival


Members of the entire Port Jefferson School District’s music department performed during the 23rd Annual Charles Dickens Festival’s Victorian Tea held at the First Presbyterian Church in Port Jefferson Village.

Musical ensembles including the elementary fifth-grade select choir, the elementary/middle school chamber orchestra, the middle and high school orchestras, the high school chamber choir, and the high school jazz ensemble performed holiday favorites throughout the weekend’s event. Following these concerts, students from the middle and high school orchestras performed chamber music at the Port Jefferson Public Library.

A special thank you to all of the student musicians for sharing their holiday music with the community as well as their music teachers Maria Diaz, Christian Neubert, Danielle Post, Vanessa Salzman, Edward Pisano and Director of Music and Fine Arts, Michael Caravello.

Face-off skills pay off for senior

Face-off skills pay off for senior photo
Senior student-athlete Jonathan Moshe is considered by his coach as one of the best lacrosse face-off specialists to ever come through Port Jefferson. His commitment to sport and excellent academic record have led him to sign to attend Gettysburg College as a 2019 lacrosse commit. He will play for coach Hank Janczyk who ranks second among all college coaches with 453 wins and joins a Gettysburg team that ranked No. 3 in the nation last year.

Beyond holding a 96+ GPA and taking on a heavy course load that includes numerous AP courses throughout his high school career, Jonathan is also a Presidential Scholar recipient and a member of various clubs including the National Honor Society, Sources of Strength, Peer Leadership and the Varsity Club.

“Jonathan encapsulates what a coach looks for in a student-athlete,” coach Taylor Forstell said. “He holds himself to a high standard and puts in the extra time and effort to separate himself from others both on and off the field. He spreads his knowledge of the game to our local community by volunteering as a coach and training young boys in the craft of facing-off. Gettysburg and coach Janczyk will not be disappointed with the leader heading their way next fall.”

Royal Compassion

Royal Compassion photo
Ten high school students along with school social worker Kristin Britt and guidance counselor Kerri Neligon recently attended the annual Compassion Without Borders conference. Chloe Andriani, Lia Desmond, Jonathan Kelsch, Ameen Khan, Emmett Maier, James Marci, Ava Schully, Nicole Schully, Sabrina Schully and Rohan Singh worked with their peers across Suffolk County to further develop their social and emotional leadership skills and help make a difference in their school communities.

Possibilities and Patterns for Port Jeff Art Students

Possibilities and Patterns for Port Jeff Art Students photo
Elementary art teacher Meghan McCarthy is always on the lookout for ways to keep her students creatively engaged. She recently purchased Perler beads, which are commonly called melty beads for her fourth-graders to experiment with while in the art classroom’s makerspace. They’ve created mandala inspired designs, cars, motorcycles and helicopters. The make-and-take activity takes the students longer then they anticipate, which gets the creative juices flowing.

“I've found it encourages them to use their fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills and social skills when working with a partner,” McCarthy said. “It's a wonderful focusing activity that they really enjoy.”

Duo Honored for Leadership and Community Contributions

Duo Honored for Leadership and Community Contributions photo
Seniors Grant Calendrille and Andrianna Monzon were each named a 2018 Suffolk Zone award winner by the New York State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. This award is presented annually to the top female and male senior physical education leaders in each Suffolk County high school.

According to Adam Sherrard, the district’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, the pair were chosen by their physical education teachers for their outstanding character, leadership skills in schoolwide as well as physical education and health class activities, positive attitude toward instructional activities, scholastic achievements and being role models for their peers.

Score for Port Jeff Soccer Players!

Score for Port Jeff Soccer Players photo
Congratulations to star soccer players Hailey Hearney and Morgan Bullis, who were named All-County and All-Division, respectively, and honored at the recent All-County dinner. Hailey finished the season leading Suffolk County in goals, scoring 21 while adding another two assists. “Hailey has a knack for finding the back of the net as she is an intelligent player who often puts herself in position to score,” said coach Taylor Forstell. Morgan finished the season with five goals and two assists and, according to Forstell, was the heart and soul of the middle of the field playing the center midfield position. “Her on-field energy helped to turn over many opposing team's possessions and she was a force both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.”

Port Jefferson Poets

Port Jefferson Poets photo

Five Port Jefferson Middle School students and one Earl L. Vandermeulen High School student raised their voices at the annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival when they read their original poems during the Friday evening lantern lighting dedication ceremony. Sixth-graders Izzie Chen (Wintertime), Alice Snyder (A Snowy Night), Ava Tuccillo (Winter) and Devon Welsch (Snowflakes) and seventh-grader Vivian Kim (First Snow) took center stage for the yearly tradition around the village as each lantern was dedicated with a plaque for the weekend festival. Eighth-grader Ruby Ray read her poem (The Village Dickens Plan) at the Festivals’ Saturday morning opening ceremony. Senior Jonathan Kelsch recited a memorial piece he wrote to his friend Dylan, a former Port Jefferson student, in front of the lantern that was dedicated to his life.

“We are so proud of the efforts that not only did these students put into the creative process, but to be so well-spoken and poised in front of a large crowd of people,” Monica Consalvo, who organized the students’ participation in the event.

Goodwill on the Ground at Camp Paquatuck

Goodwill on the Ground at Camp Paquatuck photo
Eighteen student volunteers from the high school’s Interact Club and Port Jefferson Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society visited Camp Paquatuck in Center Moriches as part of an annual fall cleanup. They united with the Port Jefferson Rotary Club and several other organizations to help with the upkeep of the property by raking the grounds and cleaning up the bunks.

“In the spring, we will return to plant flowers and get everything ready for the campers with special needs who attend the camp throughout the summer months,” said Interact adviser Deirdre Filippi, who attended along with NJHS adviser Kayleen Everitt.

Winter Concerts Broadcast LIVE

Winter Concerts Broadcast LIVE
Port Jeff LiveStream Account


BOE Accolades for Annalisa Welinder

BOE Accolades for Annalisa Welinder photo
Senior Annalisa Welinder was commended for her many accomplishments at a recent Board of Education meeting. Introduced by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano as a truly exceptional student both in the classroom and in the concert hall, Annalisa stood with pride as Principal Christine Austen spoke glowingly of her many accomplishments throughout her educational career in Port Jefferson schools.

In addition to being named a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, Annalisa has challenged herself by taking 13 Advanced Placement courses at the high school and takes an applied linear algebra class through Suffolk County Community College. An avid reader, poet and athlete, she has a talent and passion for music and has attended Julliard’s pre-college division music program since childhood to perfect her exceptional violin skills. She also recently served as concertmaster for Julliard's Pre-College Centennial Gala at Lincoln Center, alongside world-renowned classical musicians.

Swimming Sisters Significant Successes

Swimming Sisters Significant Successes photo
The Port Jefferson School District is proud to recognize Kyra Sommerstad and Kate Sommerstad for their achievements at the recent New York State Swim Championships.

In addition to their commitment to academics, the sisters are independent swimmers for Port Jefferson who both have been swimming competitively for seven years with the Three Village Swim Club.

Kyra, a junior, started swimming at the high school level when she was in 8th grade. She is a seven-time Suffolk County champion and has qualified at the state level four times in multiple events. She won the 200-individual medley and placed 2nd in the 100-backstroke at the 2018 state championship, was named a 2017-18 Scholastic All-America team member, a competitive accomplishment with high academic requirements to swim at the national level.

This is the first year for freshman Kate to swim at the high school level. She placed 2nd in the 500-freestyle and 7th in the 100-backstroke at the 2018 Suffolk County Championships, which qualified her for the state level. There, she qualified for the 500-freestyle and made it to the finals and placed 21st in the 100-backstroke.

Important December Dates


Superintendent’s Search – Community Survey

As many of you know, the Port Jefferson Board is conducting a search to hire a new superintendent. The Board is seeking input from all members of the Port Jefferson School District community. Please complete the online survey, which is available below in English or Spanish, no later than Friday, December 21. Your response will be appreciated by the Board of Education as we select the new superintendent.

If you are unable to access the survey online, paper copies of the survey are available at the District Office located at 550 Scraggy Hill Road, Port Jefferson, NY 11777.

The Board of Education looks forward to receiving your input for this very important undertaking.
English Version
Spanish Version

Students Embrace Chamber Music

Students Embrace Chamber Music photo
In a continued partnership with Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, Port Jefferson music students had the opportunity to experience world-class musicians when they attended a performance of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recently. Accompanied by Edna Louise Spear Elementary School orchestra teacher Dr. Vanessa Salzman and Earl L. Vandermeulen High School choral teacher Maria Diaz, the close-to-home collaboration engages students with innovative performances, as this concert highlighted two artists who brought a transformation to their time-honored instruments: Latvia’s Ksenija Sidorova on the accordion and Israel’s Avi Avital on the mandolin.

Arranged by Dr. Salzman and Paul Newland, outreach coordinator at Stony Brook University, Port Jefferson orchestra students and their families are invited to attend concerts each year at the university. Tickets are provided courtesy of Staller Center Outreach Endowment.

Embodying Teamwork

Embodying Teamwork photo
Middle School teacher Christina Carlson was browsing Facebook when she came across a posting by a parent commending the camaraderie of the middle school cross-country team. The public announcement told of her son’s first time on a team and the support and encouragement he received by his teammates. Coached by middle school social studies teacher Philip Giannusa, the team really flourished this year because the students all worked hard every day and continuously helped each other get better.

“We tried to build a family environment from the first day and the students really adopted this idea and made sure to pick each other up and encourage each other to finish the race even when they were ready to give up,” Giannusa said. “Our success this year was because we had a great deal of care for each other and we all wanted each other to succeed.”

Senior to Run for Big Red

Senior to Run for Big Red photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen senior Aileen Schretzmayer was awarded a scholarship recognizing her academic achievement and leadership potential to attend Denison University in September 2019. Aileen will compete for the Big Red’s women’s cross-country and track and field teams at the university, which competes in the North Coast Athletic Division III Conference.

Aileen has an impressive academic and athletic career taking numerous Honors, college-level and Advanced Placement courses and has an interest in the arts, which led her to attend a pre-college portfolio development program at the Art League of Long Island this past summer. Her running career includes many highlights starting in seventh-grade including MVP honors, a coach’s award, All-League, All- Division, a state meet qualifier and undefeated in league meets in both 800m and 1500m as a junior. The school community commends her for her hard work and dedication in representing the high school's cross-country and track and field teams.

Tennis Triumph

Tennis Triumph photo
Members of the varsity tennis team were lauded along with coach Dennis Christofor at the Suffolk County Tennis Coaches Association Awards Dinner for an exceptional season. They made the playoffs losing a close match to Half Hollow Hills West. Seniors Annalisa Welinder and Devin Rotunno and eighth-grader Nicolina Giannola all celebrated wins at singles play. The girls are looking forward to next year with leadership by future senior Hana Ali in the doubles lineup and Nicolina Giannola as the first singles player.

A Cold Endeavor Warms Hearts

A Cold Endeavor Warms Hearts photo
A record number of 55 members of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s Varsity Club attended the Town of Brookhaven’s annual Polar Plunge recently held at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai to benefit the Special Olympics. They collectively raised $9,450 through their fundraising efforts.

The Varsity Club members and their advisers, teachers Jesse Rosen and Deirdre Filippi, engage in projects centered around athletics and also run school-organized events and activities that help to raise money for various service-minded organizations.

“We are so incredibly proud of the student’s efforts,” Mrs. Filippi said of the students continued interest in positively helping and influencing people around them while challenging themselves in the process.

Gravitating toward Gratefulness

Gravitating toward Gratefulness photo
Although Port Jefferson School District students work to spread kindness every day, they took some extra steps to celebrate World Kindness Day with one another and in the community. Working with special education teacher Monica Consalvo and librarian Mary LaSita, numerous high school and middle school students collected non-perishable food items, toiletries and cold weather clothing items for the Northport Veterans Home and local charities. Other fun activities included creating kindness hashtag sprinkles such as #begrateful, #youarespecial and #celebrateyou that were shared in their ELA classes, posting kindness messages on all lockers in both schools, making kindness announcements over the PA system during the change of classes and placing inspirational cards in student lockers.

Four Decades of Frost Valley

Four Decades of Frost Valley photo
This year’s annual trip to Frost Valley for sixth-graders marked 40 years that students have participated in nature hikes, science exploration, outdoor living skills, trust-building activities, and teamwork.

The two days of adventures included orienteering, visiting waterfalls, observing animals, learning to read maps and use a compass and crossing cable bridges. Frost Valley educators introduced the students to a variety of animals and reptiles and helped them understand how these species spend their days both in captivity and in the wild.

Senior Performs at Julliard

Senior Performs at Julliard photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School senior Annalisa Welinder recently served as concertmaster for Julliard's Pre-College Centennial Gala at Lincoln Center. This special event, including musical works by Bernstein, Beethoven, and Rimsky-Korsakov, featured Annalisa performing alongside guest conductor Robert Spano and world-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax. The performance was attended by her proud parents, Port Jefferson faculty members Anne Algieri, Dennis Christopher and Kerri Neligon, high school principal Christine Austen and Director of Music and fine Arts Dr. Michael Caravello.

These students are Wellfit

These students are Wellfit photo
Getting ready for the traditional Thanksgiving meals has a different twist for students at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. Along with health/physical education teacher Dinarae Camarda students once again hosted a Wellfit Feast. The physical education elective course encourages students to take traditional Thanksgiving recipes and modify them with healthier alternatives to lower the sugar and fat content. The students submitted their recipes to the Wellfit Google classroom and then brought their culinary creations in to share on the day of the feast.

“The students get to see that creating healthier versions of their favorite traditional recipes doesn’t mean compromising on taste,” Ms. Camarda said. “We’ve had the feast for six years now and every year it gets bigger and better than the year before!”

Promoting Wellness – Community Forum Series

The Port Jefferson School District will host its next event in the Promoting Wellness – Community Forum Series on Monday, Nov. 26. The proactive series will present “The Ugly Truth,” a powerful presentation about the opioid epidemic presented by the Suffolk County Police Department. It will be held in the Port Jefferson Middle School Multipurpose Room at 6:30 p.m.

Showcasing musical talents at SCMEA Day of Tuba Festival

Showcasing musical talents at SCMEA Day of Tuba Festival photo
Five Port Jefferson School District students band students recently participated in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s 38th Annual Day of Tuba Festival at Central Islip High School.

Eighth-grader Frank Andriani, sophomore Gani Ates, junior Sinan Ates, sixth-grader Max Joyner and eighth-grader Christopher Mark joined more than 200 exceptional tuba students from across Suffolk County. Their talents were showcased on one stage during a remarkable performance alongside professional musicians including renowned tuba guest artist Velvet Brown.



The regular monthly business meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on December 11, 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.

Vocalists Perform at Walk for Beauty

Vocalists Perform at Walk for Beauty photo
Six members of the high school’s chamber choir – Grace Crugnale, Cole Fortier, Kitty Kirsch, Mattea Rabeno, Hannah Skula and Peggy Yin – along with music director, Maria Diaz, performed at the Stony Brook Village Walk for Beauty and Hercules on the Harbor 10K on Oct. 21st. Sponsored by Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn, the event helped raise money for breast cancer research at Stony Brook Medicine.

Unique Celebration of Music

Unique Celebration of Music photo
Fourth-grade music students Jonah Boerboom, Allie Blumenthal, Iris Park and Julie Friedman recently attended the SCMEA PEAK Festival. The PEAK Festival (Parents, Educators and Kids), is a unique celebration of elementary classroom music. Port Jefferson’s students performed music alongside their parents and music teacher Danielle Post.

Eating the Colors of the Rainbow

Eating the Colors of the Rainbow photo
In a collaborative effort with St. Charles Hospital, registered dietician Alyssa Morando visited Edna Louise Spear Elementary School and spoke to students about nutrition and healthy lunch choices. Ms. Morando also handed out forms for the students to help pick out the name of the hospital’s new surgical Davinci robot. The choices - Chip, Edison, Dr. Charles, Dr. Roboto and Surg-io are in the running and the most votes for a particular name will be unveiled in December, based solely on the student’s votes.

Good Luck at States!

Good Luck at States photo
The Port Jefferson Boys varsity cross-country team was undefeated in the League season winning the Division IV championship. They also won the Suffolk County Class C title. Brian Veit was the county champion and Cooper Schoch finished second. Five of the runners were All-League athletes. The team also had five of the ten top finishers in the county race.

“The team was dedicated and tough,” coach Rod Cawley said. “They worked as a unit and overwhelmed most of our competition. We are also very young: five sophomores, one freshman and a senior. We are looking forward to the next two years!”

Senior Aileen Schretzmayer finished 5th in Suffolk County and has also qualified for the New York State meet. “Aileen has been our MVP for cross-country for the past two years,” coach Don Slingerland said. She has also been first team All-League and All-Division and served as the team captain.

Eli Joyner, Royce Perera, Grant Samara, Brian Veit, Aileen Schretzmayer Cooper Schoch, Gray Joyner and Owen Okst are to be commended their hard work and dedication in representing Port Jefferson’s successful cross-country teams at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association state meet hosted by Section XI at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, NY on Saturday, Nov. 10. Good luck!

Golf Glory!

Golf Glor phoot
Senior Shane DeVincenzo was crowned Suffolk County Golf Individual Champion for the second time, a rare accomplishment. A four-time state qualifier, he shot 73-70 over two days at Rock Hill Golf Course and won by seven shots over his closest competitor.

All-County honors were also bestowed on senior Josh Gelfond, who according to Ruoff, has worked hard to develop a very solid golf game.
Congratulations to the Port Jefferson golf team took third place in all of Suffolk County. A great achievement for Shane, Josh and Billy Alter, Jeff Alter, Alex DiCarlo and Charlie Rolfe.

Honoring a Classmate’s Memory

Honoring a Classmate’s Memory photo
The Port Jefferson School community was out in full force at the Out of the Darkness walk, held recently at Jones Beach. Dozens of students and staff members walked as part of Team Dylan, which honors the memory of Port Jefferson student Dylan Berger. Collectively, the school community raised $2,490 through the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, the International Club and a staff dress-down day. The funds will directly benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“We are proud of the many students who step up to help raise awareness on suicide and depression,” Kristin Britt, adviser to the GSA said. “When they foster a better understanding of themselves and their friends and classmates, they gain the capacity for empowerment and help in sharing the fact that there are always safe outlets, supportive environments and always someone to talk to.”

Students Read in a Neutral Zone

Students Read in a Neutral Zone photo
Perseverance and teamwork were the name of the game when Earl L. Vandermeulen High School varsity football players visited Gina Santini’s fourth-grade class as part of a community service project.

The football players – Jonathan Bachmann, Sam Caltagirone, Nathan DiGregorio, Ryan Holmes, Patrick Kleaka, Bryce Lewis, Michael McGuire, Matt Murphy, Daniel Shaughnessy, Jordan Suarez, Eric Zimmermann and Gabe Zoda – participated in the event along with cheer captain Katie Ambrozy, in the event organized by the team’s booster club, parent Holly Caltagirone and coach Andrew Cosci.

After reading “Game Day” by Tiki and Ronde Barber, the players took turns answering questions from students from how they balance their schoolwork and sports to plans for the future. The reading session culminated with the athletes taking the fourth-graders outside to teach them how to throw a football.

“The camaraderie of these athletes is inspiring,” Mr. Cosci said, adding that the event is something he looks forward to having the students participate in, as they serve as role models and encourage the younger students to form and maintain friendships throughout their school years.

Environmental Experiential Lessons

Environmental Experiential Lessons photo
Taking a school field trip is often an enhancement to classroom studies and high school students had an opportunity to do just that when they climbed aboard an actual research vessel in Shinnecock Bay. Students from Marine Biology, AP Environmental Science, and Living Environment classes, along with science teacher Jonathan Maletta, spent a recent day with scientists from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. The SoMAS scientists provided a wealth of information during the unique voyage. Students learned about water quality parameters, such as dissolved oxygen content and turbidity, in the bay and the Atlantic Ocean. They also sampled marine sediment to understand the geologic features of the bay.


Undefeated photo
The Port Jefferson Middle School football team capped off an undefeated 2018 season. “The attitude and effort of this group of athletes made for a special experience,” coach Jesse Rosen said. “We look forward to seeing them progress as student athletes.”

Community Service Award for Senior

Community Service Award for Senior photo
Senior Lia Desmond was nominated and recognized with the Thomas Cutinella Foundation Service Award for her work in helping to make a positive impact in the local community. Lia was honored during a varsity football game halftime ceremony by the Long Island Radio Broadcasting’s Tour For 54, which honors local high school students with the award to help raise awareness for the Thomas Cutinella Foundation, named in memory of the athlete and working to inspire and share the fundamental beliefs and values that defined his life. Clocking in more than 880 community service in her high school career, Lia is a member of the Section XI Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, secretary of the Peer Leadership Club, a member of the Varsity Club and the varsity volleyball team.

Art Students Paint the Town

Art Students Paint the Town photo
Districtwide art students and teachers participated in this year’s Harvest Festival Window Painting Contest, sponsored by the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy. To participate, student teams were assigned a storefront window in the village to paint in a Halloween or autumn theme.

Promoting Unity

Promoting Unity photo
Members of the high school Gay Straight Alliance shared the mission of the organization to seventh-grade students at Port Jefferson Middle School during National Coming Out Day. Dozens of students from both schools are involved in the student-led organization, which works to bring awareness for a safer, more supportive school environment, free from bullying and harassment, not only for the LGBT community but for all students. The students also hosted a bake sale with proceeds earmarked for the Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide awareness and prevention that they will participate in on Oct. 28 at Jones Beach along with advisers Kristin Britt and Dinarae Camarda.

Port Jeff Proud!

Port Jeff Proud! photo
Thank you to the Port Jefferson School District community for the input provided on the new logo for all district athletic teams. Seen here, the votes were for this one, which will be consistent regardless of the team or sport. It will appear on apparel that student-athletes, faculty, parents and team supporters purchase for their personal use.

Information and entertainment from ‘The Morning Show’

Information and entertainment from ‘The Morning Show’ photo
A new collaboration at the high school has students excited to get to the classroom to start the day’s work – producing “The Morning Show,” a joint effort between the technology and English departments.

According to English teacher Michael Augello, the initial goal was to produce a show that both informs and entertains. Each show allows collaboration and creative input from the student anchors and a spot interview that highlights teachers, students, teams, programs, events and other things going on in the school and community.

On the technical side, students are learning from technology teacher Brian Chalmers how to shoot and edit their own stories, which includes setting up a shot with proper lighting, arranging and connecting microphones, framing the subject within the shot and editing during post-production. They also learn how to manage and operate cameras, the control room, the teleprompter and other equipment necessary in producing the show.

With Mr. Augello, the students learn how to find and create stories and determine not only how the story affects their audience, but how best to engage their audience in telling the story. During interviews, students must frame their questions in an order that makes sense and in a way that gives their subject room to discuss and explain – a real flowing, conversational interview, not just simple yes or no answers. Being an anchor is a great educational challenge for the students by developing and enhancing their organizational and public speaking skills. They are responsible for writing the script and developing transitions between segments all while speaking clearly and conversationally toward the camera.

The first successful air date was early October and the students work to produce each program just one day in advance. It is broadcast throughout the building during homeroom so everyone has a chance to stay involved in the happenings of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

Promoting Wellness

Promoting Wellness photo
In a partnership with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the Port Jefferson School District recently hosted the first of its Promoting Wellness – Community Forum Series.

Adam Birkenstock, a licensed clinical social worker and a representative from LICADD, was the guest speaker. His program, “Helping Our Children Manage Stress in the 21st Century,” addressed the important health and well-being issues that affect many students.

The interactive evening helped parents/guardians understand their essential roles in how to assist teens in managing and reducing stress and anxiety. His topics included academic and social stress, stress management, mindfulness and the impact of technology on stress.

“We are grateful for Mr. Birkenstock’s shared expertise with our school community,” Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Principal Christine Austen said. “As many of our students recognize that knowledge is power, this partnership is an opportunity for further community engagement in their well-being.”

The next event in the proactive series will be “The Ugly Truth,” a powerful presentation about the opioid epidemic presented by the Suffolk County Police Department. It will be held on Monday, Nov. 26 in the Port Jefferson Middle School Multipurpose Room at 6:30 p.m.

VIDEO: Fire Safety


Inspiring Change with ‘Ryan’s Story’

Inspiring Change with ‘Ryan’s Story’ photo
Middle school students were introduced to a powerful speaker who began his presentation by letting them know that the story they would hear would be sad, but his intention was to have them all think and act differently about the issue of bullying.

He succeeded.

A voice of hope in the suicide prevention movement, John Halligan who lost his thirteen-year-old son Ryan to suicide, shared a video montage of his child and spoke of his life and challenges before his death in 2003.

According to English teacher Allison Giannusa who coordinated the presentation, many of the 6-8 grade students took away several positive messages including optimism, as well as learning from mistakes and, most importantly, that they are loved. As a follow-up to the presentation, the students reflected on what could have been done differently to prevent Ryan’s death.

Encouraging Unity

Encouraging Unity photo
When students, peers and adults recognize and respond to bullying behavior, a powerful message is sent that it is not acceptable. To share in that message, middle schoolers wore orange to signify their stance on Unity Day on Oct. 24.

The theme of the day was to unite against bullying and all social studies classes in the school viewed a Powerpoint and video presentation, detailing the nationally recognized event that promotes kindness, acceptance and inclusion.

Seventh-grade teacher Monica Consalvo, who annually coordinates the schoolwide campaign, helps to reinforce the strong message of anti-bullying programs.

“We want students to embrace Unity Day’s message and make the commitment to be accepting of people’s differences,” she said.

Elementary Educator Makes History for District

Elementary Educator Makes History for District photo
Fifth-grade teacher Megan Roth-Ueno is making history for the Port Jefferson School District. After a rigorous application and selection process she has been named a New York State Master Teacher, the first for the district. She will join a reputable group of innovators and leaders in STEM education who bring a unique perspective to enhancing their students’ education.

According to Roth-Ueno, as a classroom teacher it is often difficult to learn firsthand what is happening in other schools and programs. It generally requires being out of a teacher’s own classroom in order to visit other schools. The New York State Master Teacher Program will enable her to learn about other programs outside of the school day and help her become more aware of her cohort’s schoolwide programs and eventually work to create and plan curriculum together.

“The NYSMTP is an opportunity for me to collaborate with and learn about what other educators are doing in their classrooms,” she said. With a realigned New York State science curriculum in the process, her enthusiasm for collaboration also sparked an idea to create short instructional science videos with her new colleagues.

Teaching since 1995 and in the Port Jefferson schools since 2000, Roth-Ueno co-founded the Suffolk County Elementary Math Tournament just over 10 years ago as there was no elementary opportunity in Suffolk County. Its growth and annual tournament at Stony Brook University, is supported by the Institute for STEM Education, where Roth-Ueno is excited to be in a room of several hundred students who are enthusiastic about math.

“We are extremely proud of Mrs. Roth-Ueno,” said Port Jefferson School District’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jessica Schmettan. “It is a testament to her dedication and hard work.”

Girls Soccer Team Kicks for Cancer

Girls Soccer Team Kicks for Cancer photo
The girls varsity soccer team held their annual Pink Game in support of Kicks for Cancer, a local initiative that combines athletics with fundraising for cancer research. With a bake sale and gift cards and high-end raffle prizes the girls raised more than $1,000 to support the cause in a winning game against Amityville.

Along with coach Taylor Forstell, the school community congratulates team members Francesca Antonelli, Heidi Biedenkapp, Paige Bruno, Morgan Bullis, Alexandra Carlson, Kate Carlson, Holly D’Accordo, Kailey D’Accordo, Madison Feinstein, Hailey Hearney, Kerrigan Hurney, Farrell Johnston, Sophia Knapp, Reese Koban, Jacqueline Lambe, Gina Lucero, Beverly Ann Maier, Lena McFarland and Abigail Rolfe on this outstanding achievement.

“We are so proud of the efforts of our athletes to not only play the game but understand how to help make a difference in the lives of others,” Port Jefferson School District’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Adam Sherrard said.

Welcoming Cultural Diversity

Welcoming Cultural Diversity photo
The district’s ENL department welcomed newcomers and current students and their families to a festive celebration of food and fun at the elementary school. With a multicultural menu and handmade sushi rolls shaped as the popular Minion character, the families had an opportunity to learn about the Port Jefferson School District community and tips and resources on how to participate in their child’s education.

Welcomed by ENL teachers Mary Lyons, Christina Marino, Regina Paquette and Jennifer Walling, and with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano, high school Principal Christine Austen, middle school Principal Dr. Robert Neidig and Assistant Principal Claudia Smith present, it was an informative evening. A representative from the Port Jefferson Public Library also conducted a presentation about the resources it offers.

The K-12 students enjoyed their time together both at the dinner and in the gymnasium for some friendly and sociable activities and the newcomers were gifted with Port Jefferson sweatshirts courtesy of the high school’s International Club.

First-graders learn to Stop, drop and roll

First-graders learn to Stop, drop and roll photo
First-graders learned about fire safety and prevention tips during National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 7-13.

The students were excited to see a red fire truck arrive at the school and more excited to learn that music teacher Christian Neubert, who is a volunteer firefighter, was at the steering wheel.

Mr. Neubert introduced two members of the Port Jefferson Fire Department, Andrew Altamirano and Paul Penske, a 2018 graduate of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. Together, the trio demonstrated the life-saving tools used by firefighters, shared safety tips and showed the students their fire gear before each one had an opportunity to take a look at the inside of the fire truck.

The students then had classroom discussions and created posters with their newly acquired knowledge of fire safety.

Top Performer on the Field!

Top Performer on the Field! photo
Congratulations to Royals quarterback Sam Florio, who was chosen as a Newsday Gridiron Great! He was recognized for completing 9 out of 14 passes for 237 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-7 win over Hampton Bays. He is the third Royal to be selected for the achievement. Great job Sam!

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.

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.

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.
Monday, December 10, 2018