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Read All About it!

Read All About It photo
Port Jefferson Middle School students in Nancy Bachety’s Home and Career Skills classes spent time outside of class working on dozens of articles for Newsday’s Kidsday. As part of the project, students Ana Kelly, Hailey Sorell, Matthew Wengatz and Sean Wilson had a unique opportunity to interview comedian Sebastian Maniscalco in New York’s Four Seasons Hotel Downtown. “Our team of reporters worked hard preparing for the event which led to an amazing interview,” Principal Dr. Robert Neidig said.

Read their interview and save the dates for their other exciting stories, March 2-8.

https://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/family/kidsday/sebastian-maniscalco-comedians-madison-square-garden-1.26053762

12,000 miles apart, excellence in education brings them together

12,000 miles apart, excellence in education brings them together photo

A delegate of educators from the Chinese Province of Anhui were welcomed to the Port Jefferson School District to experience and learn about the educationalopportunities in an American school. Port Jefferson was selected as one of only two districts for its reputation as a highly successful school district.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Casciano welcomed the visitors in the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School library and introduced them to district administrators during a welcome reception that included Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic performed by the middle school orchestra students under the direction of teacher Christian Neubert. Dr. Casciano’s remarks included a mention of the high school’s national Blue Ribbon status, the numerous graduates of the district who go on to attend some of the most competitive universities in the country and the diverse backgrounds of the students who attend the schools.

“Our education is well-rounded with many courses of study to meet the varied individual needs of our students,” Dr. Casciano said to the visitors. He also thanked them for visiting the schools and encouraging Port Jefferson’s educators to be reflective and constant in improving educational opportunities for students.

Student leaders and administrators then guided the educators on a comprehensive tour of the high school, middle school and Edna Louise Spear Elementary School.

Organized by Stony Brook University, three Mandarin language translators joined the educators as they witnessed interactive lessons, learned about mindfulness activities, listened to chorus members sing, tried out physical education equipment, watched students involved in art projects and, through the translators, asked thoughtful questions about reading, writing, life skills, and the high school’s numerous Advanced Placement classes in world history, statistics and physics. The visit culminated with a lunch and discussion on their educational perspectives and goals with the school district’s personnel.

VIDEO: Realistic Fiction

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Hometown Talent Heads to Stony Brook University

Hometown Talent Heads to Stony Brook University photo
Aidan Kaminska has committed to the Stony Brook Seawolves and becomes the first Division I lacrosse commit to hail from Port Jefferson. Aidan, a junior, has been a two-year starter for Port Jefferson and plays for a highly competitive club team. His experiences have helped pave the way to a bright future both athletically and academically.

Port Jefferson’s varsity head coach Taylor Forstell sees this commitment as a great fit for both Aidan and the Stony Brook lacrosse program.

“Aidan has been a special player for our program for many years,” Mr. Forstell said. “He is visible all off-season putting in the extra time to improve his game. Morning workouts, late night training sessions and countless weekends at tournaments and prospect camps, he has earned his position at Stony Brook and we are proud of him representing Port Jefferson at such a high level of lacrosse.”

Teddy Bear Clinic!

Teddy Bear Clinic photo
Edna Louise Spear Elementary School students each brought a special stuffed animal guest from home when they took part in a teddy bear clinic, an injury prevention program for children sponsored by the Trauma Center at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Learning safety topics such as using a seatbelt as a passenger in a car and wearing a helmet while biking or roller skating, the fun and interactive visit was well received by the students. Taught by Kristi Ladowski, outreach coordinator at the hospital, the students then donned scrubs, masks and surgical gloves to take care of their injured stuffed animals.

District Embarks on Salute to Military

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The Port Jefferson School District is pleased to officially announce the creation of an Armed Forces Tribute that will recognize former Port Jefferson School District students and staff who served our nation in the Armed Forces.

A brick campaign is currently underway with the cost of each brick at $100. The bricks will be set at the selected Tribute site in front of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. They will be placed on the Court of Courage and the Path of Honor surrounding the Tribute. Each purchased brick will be engraved with a special message to honor past and current service members, family members, community members or friends.

The brick fundraising campaign will run until March 1 and a dedication ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 30. Please contact Kathy Hanley in the Office of the Superintendent at (631)791.4221 with any questions.

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Port Jeff Peer Leadership Training

Port Jeff Peer Leadership Training photo
Dozens of Earl. L Vandermeulen High School students took part in a full day of training about the health effects of vaping and nicotine. Taught by Bonnie Anderson and John Martin, educators from the Suffolk County Department of Health’s Office of Health Education, the peer education, interactive format will help these student leaders share the lessons they learned to other students in both the high school and Port Jefferson Middle School.

The students viewed a Powerpoint presentation, were educated on the negative effects of electronic cigarettes, refusal skill development, learned about resources they can share and worked together to create improvisational vignettes, which they will continue to practice and refine to be ready to present to their peers.

“The more we educate our students, the more empowered they are to make positive decisions,” school social worker Kristin Britt said.

School-Community Connection Series

The topic for our January 24th School-Community Connection session has been changed to “The 2019-20 District Budget and the Impact of the Town Settlement with LIPA.” The change in topic was made as a result of the Town of Brookhaven’s agreement announcement last month. The session will be held on Thursday, January 24th at 6:30 pm in the High School Library. We hope that you can join us.

Music Students Attend Concert at Lincoln Center

Music Students Attend Concert at Lincoln Center photo
More than fifty Port Jefferson elementary, middle and high school string students and families attended an evening performance of the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center. Attendees enjoyed the orchestra’s performance featuring world-renowned cellist Gautier Capicon. The students were accompanied by music teacher Christian Neubert and Director of Music and Fine Arts Dr. Michael Caravello.

More than Crimes and Misdemeanors

More than Crimes and Misdemeanors photo
Bringing textbook lessons to life was part of the crime scene-processing lesson for students in the high school’s forensics class. Taught by teacher Amanda Brideson, the three-week, hands-on activities included writing a mock crime scene story and then creating a detailed crime scene in a shoebox. The creative juices were flowing as students used materials including Legos, Barbie Dolls, clay and incorporated local venues including supermarkets, beaches and theaters as part of their stories.

Royal Talent

Royal Talent photo
Congratulations to the Royals varsity field hockey team on an exceptional season. The talents of six players were recognized at the Section XI awards ceremony held in December. Student Phalina Sciara was named All-County; Taylor Corallo, Sydney Fallon and Katelynn Johnston were named All- Division; Farrah Ghaleb received an Unsung Hero award and Charlotte Kujawski was named All-Tournament.

An Alumnus Among Us

An Alumnus Among Us photo
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School alumnus Marguerite Jones recently spoke with the high school music ensembles to discuss potential college and career opportunities in music performance and administration. A 2009 graduate of the high school, Marguerite is presently working in Julliard’s Pre-College Division. She explained how her high school and college music experiences prepared her for a career in the field of music and offered advice for those seeking to follow a similar path.

Fitness Center is Open!

Fitness Center is Open photo
The Fitness Center at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School is open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. when school is in session. The Fitness Center underwent some changes last summer and now includes equipment additions such as the Deck 2.0 workout platform, which can be set up around its three modes: Step, Bench and Ramp, Corebags, and Kettlebells and Medicine Balls, all of which can be used for fundamental movements such as squatting, bending, lunging and pushing.

According to Adam Sherrard, Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, in addition to the power lifting equipment the room is designed to facilitate functional fitness exercises to help improve core strength, balance, and cardiovascular health, as well as promote relaxation.

Winter Newsletter now Available

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Important January Dates

Holiday cheer through the halls at the WBJHS

PORT JEFFERSON SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING NOTICES

A work session meeting of the Port Jefferson School District board of Education will be held on January 22, 2019, 7:00 p.m., in the Large Group Room at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, for a first draft presentation of the 2019-2020 school year budget; and, any other business as may be needed.  The meeting 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 Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 6:30 p.m., at the District Office, for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss a personnel matter.

Compassion and Carols Throughout the District

Compassion and Carols Throughout the District photo
Students and staff members throughout the Port Jefferson schools helped spread holiday cheer through festive concerts, toy and food collections and seasonal carol-grams.

The elementary, middle school and high school winter concerts were joyful celebrations throughout December.

Members of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s chorus delivered holiday carol-grams to the delight of recipients and onlookers. Their songs of the season surprised and delighted classmates, teachers, staff members and administrators.

With the generosity of so many in the schools and community and various clubs and school organizations, 17 families in the Port Jefferson school community were gifted with food baskets and other needed items. Members of the National Honor Society, along with advisers Mary Lacita and Kathi Galvin, hosted a food fundraiser, which was all donated to the program run by social worker Kristin Britt. The high school Student Organization, under the leadership of adviser Gina Fedler, joined in the giving by creating breakfast baskets for all of the families also.

Along with Port Jefferson Middle School teachers Christina Marino and Kayleen Everitt, the National Junior Honor Society collected gifts to donate to children in need as part of a toy drive for the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.

“Our goal was to make a difference and bring some holiday cheer to the families in need,” Ms. Marino said. The students and staff donated a total of 60 gifts to the coalition.

At Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, under the leadership of guidance counselor Jessica Peterson, staff, students and parents collected toys, gift cards and other items and worked along with members of the Port Jefferson Library and Port Jefferson Fire Department to ensure a happy holiday for eight families with 17 Port Jefferson children in total.

Town of Brookhaven/LIPA Settlement - Dec. 20 Update

The Port Jefferson School District has been made aware of a settlement in the tax assessment case between the Town of Brookhaven and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). 

We have been in discussions with Town of Brookhaven officials to learn more about the specific details of the settlement and how it impacts the District. The timing of the Town’s settlement is helpful because the District is at the front end of our budget development process for the 2019-20 school year. When we have a more complete picture of the agreement that was reached, we will share that information with our school-community.

Now that a settlement has been reached, we can begin moving forward with informed decisions based on real facts and less speculation. A change was expected and looming over the community and school district for quite a few years. The District will work tirelessly to make the adjustments necessary to continue our responsibility of educating the children of our community. We have confidence that we’ll be able to meet this challenge successfully as long as we work together.

‘Partners in Science’ with BNL

‘Partners in Science’ with BNL photo
Four high school students recently visited Brookhaven National Laboratory for the Partners in Science program. Hana Ali, Dylan Dugourd, Ameen Khan and Peggy Yin applied to be a part of the program that grants high school students who are working on approved science projects access to the vast BNL scientific database of reference and research materials. Sponsored by the Eastern Suffolk BOCES School Library System and the internationally renowned research facility, the students were accompanied by Middle School/High School library media specialist Mary LaSita. While at BNL, the students toured the National Synchrotron Light Source II with BNL scientist Kara Laasch, attended a lecture on the synchrotron, used the research library and attended a lunch with several scientists and LaSita.

Student-musicians Spread Holiday Cheer!

Student-musicians Spread Holiday Cheer photo
The Port Jefferson School District Board of Education’s December 11 meeting was filled with the sounds of the season as student-musicians performed several holiday classics before being recognized for their contributions to the school and community during the holiday season.

Leading up to the winter holidays, students participated in community events, including the Port Jefferson Village’s annual Dicken’s Festival, performing at local churches and the public library in addition to their winter concert at the high school.

Dr. Michael Caravello, Director of Music and Fine Arts, introduced music teachers Maria Diaz and Edward Pisano and students Katherine Ambrozy, Grace Crugnale, Cole Fortier, Katherine Kirsch, Mattea Rabeno, Jack Reilly, Hannah Skula and Peggy Yin, who were each presented with a certificate of appreciation for their musical efforts.

“One of the core missions of our department is going out in the community and spreading music and art because that’s what real artists and musicians do, they give back to their community,” said Dr. Caravello. “Our students really bring that mission to life.”

Ready, Set, Cook!

Ready, Set, Cook photo
Growing up in a family in the culinary field, Vitto Lombardi started cooking at the age of eight.

“My mom was not the best cook, so I thought if I could do it and put good food on the table, why not?” he said.

His love of experimenting with recipes and sharing his cuisine with family and friends led the high school junior to attend the Culinary Arts program through Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology. He recently participated in the American Culinary Federation “Ready, Set, Cook” competition hosted at the Milliken Technical Center. He was paired up with three other students and a professional chef advisor. He had one hour to prepare an entrée, starch and vegetable using only the mystery ingredients provided to them. As a result of his efforts, Vitto was awarded a $12,000 scholarship for future studies at the Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College. Congratulations Vitto!

Potato latkes and dreidel lessons

Potato latkes and dreidel lessons photo

Amy Castaldo’s third-grade class welcomed two parents who shared a celebration of Hanukkah with them. Stacey York and Natalie Litman taught the students about the history of the dreidel and the meaning of its letters. The students then tried their hand at the traditional game. They also learned about some of the symbols and traditions of the holiday and enjoyed potato latkes with applesauce.

Mrs. York then read the book “How the Kvetch Stole Hanukkah,” a fun story with rhyming patterns and a story structure similar to “The Grinch.”

“The story gave the students a little background knowledge of the history of Hanukkah, and helps them understand the true meaning behind the traditions,” said Mrs. Castaldo.

Field Hockey Team Reach Playoffs

Field Hockey Team Reach Playoffs photo
The girls varsity field hockey team had a great 2018 season. With an overall record of 7-7, they reached the playoffs and went up against Pierson for the Suffolk County Class C championship. Under the coaching leadership of Kristen Bagley and Deb Brown, the Royals played their hearts out until the final seconds of the game but were defeated 1-0.

Wrapped with love from the Interact Club

Wrapped with love from the Interact Club photo
Fifteen students from the high school’s Interact Club have helped to make spirits bright by taking part in the annual gift-wrapping event along with members of the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson. The annual project - a collection of clothing and other necessities, toys, books and games – resulted in approximately 2,750 gifts for 100 local children. A special thanks to students Monica Alexander, Olivia Alvarez, Morgan Bullis, Asher Calayag, Holly D'Accordo, Lucy DeWitt, Christine Iasso, Farrell Johnston, Sophia Knapp, Charlotte Kujawski, Michelle Parsick, Victoria Poten, Camryn Spiller, Annika Wakefield and Maggie Zhou, along with adviser Deirdre Filippi for this massive undertaking.

All-state honors for Hailey Hearney!

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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

Dickens

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.

Math Lessons and Menorah Making

Math Lessons and Menorah Making photo

Students in Melissa Martin’s kindergarten class began a recent morning with a geometry lesson. After learning about triangles, hexagon, rectangles and squares and listening to “Sammy Spider’s First Hannukah,” they created their own paper menorahs.

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.

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.

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!”

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.
Saturday, January 19, 2019