Baseball Players Pitch In

Members of the district’s baseball program took part in the Coastal Steward Adopt-A-Beach Program on the Port Jefferson side of Mount Sinai Harbor. The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup effort that has removed more than 400 tons of debris to date. Players spent the afternoon removing waste from the area while gaining an understanding of how individual actions can impact the greater community.

PJ Teachers and BOE Approve New Contract

Collaborative Effort Helps Create a Sustainable Future for the District and Community

The Port Jefferson UFSD Board of Education (BOE) and the Port Jefferson Teachers Association (PJTA) are pleased to announce that they have approved a successor agreement to the labor contract that ended on June 30, 2013, which will run through June 30, 2017. 

The new agreement calls for a zero percent increase in the salary schedule in year one, followed by a 1 percent annual increase in the salary schedule in years two through four. A step ‘freeze’ is in place for year three, and half-step increases are called for in years two and four (steps are movements ‘up’ the schedule based upon accrued years of service). One-time payments of $650 will be made to all teachers in years two and three, and teachers who are not eligible to move up a step on the salary schedule in year one will receive a one-time payment of $1,300. 

The net result of the agreement is to slow the rate of total salary growth and save significant sums in the short and long term. The district will realize a savings of approximately $850,000 over the 4-year term of the agreement (as compared to the expired contract language).

In addition to the aforementioned provisions, the new agreement calls for an increase in the health care premium contribution by the teachers, a decrease in payment for those teachers who decline health care, a freezing of stipend rates, a new sign-in/sign out procedure mutually agreed upon by the PJTA and the district, and an adjustment to bereavement days.

Dr. Kenneth Bossert, superintendent of schools, noted that this agreement is integral to helping the district achieve tax cap-compliant status over the next three years (the proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year is already within the allowable cap). “What it does, more than anything else, is give us the opportunity to preserve the staffing and programs that our community demands,” he said, “and to do so in a way that is mindful of the concerns of all taxpaying residents of the district.”

Board of Education President Kathleen Brennan thanked the PJTA for their professionalism and cooperation during the negotiating process. “You have demonstrated an understanding of the situation we all face as a community,” she said at the April 22 board meeting.

“In a time of continued financial pressure for public schools and their taxpaying communities, we think it is critical to work together to prevent the erosion of the quality education provided to the students here in Port Jefferson,” said Brian Snow, President of the PJTA. “It is unfortunate that such sacrifices must fall on the middle class worker and taxpayer. It is time for school management and finance to return to local community control.” 

Stories that Rock

Elementary school students in Deanna Lilimpakis and Amy McClelland’s class created story stones as part of a culminating activity to their lessons about sequential storytelling. Using a variety of pictures, students were encouraged to use their imagination to tell creative tales.

“The picture choices were of different story elements, such as characters, settings and events,” said Lilimpakis. “The students will use these stones at home to tell a sequential story, working on vocabulary, sequencing, recall, expressive language skills and turn-taking skills.”

Robotics Team Delivers Strong Performance

The high school robotics team competed in the annual Long Island FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Robotics Competition on April 5-6 at Hofstra University. More than 10,000 spectators cheered on the more than 50 teams competing for a spot in the national championship.

“Our students spent six weeks, working up to six days a week, constructing a 130-pound robot from raw materials, such as aluminum and Plexiglas pieces, combined with digital electronic components, electric motors, cameras, transmissions, wheels and a host of other robotic parts,” said group adviser Brian Chalmers. Students and mentors worked together as they built the robot. “The mentors really enjoyed having the opportunity to share their knowledge with other student team members,” he said.

The four-student robotics drive team worked together to coordinate robot functions. Tasks included shooting a two-foot-wide workout ball into a goal 11 feet in the air while simultaneously avoiding five other robots on the field.

“Our robot did very well and was a strong performer on all assigned tasks,” said Chalmers. “This year, we had all new robot drivers, so it was a true learning experience for all involved.”

Wrestler Named Fourth in Nation

High school student Matteo DeVincenzo competed in the National Wrestling Tournament in Virginia Beach, Va. on March 29. Matteo competed in a weight class with more than 90 participants, taking fourth place in the nation. He was also named an All-American athlete and is the first wrestler in the district’s history to attain this status.

Notice of Budget Hearing, Vote & Election


Tri-M Inducts Newest Members

The Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Chapter 2172 of the Tri-M Music Honor Society hosted its seventh annual honors recital and induction on April 9. High school principal Dr. Matthew Murphy welcomed guests and was followed by a recital of six instrumental and vocal performances by students, including pieces by César Franck, George Gershwin and John Lennon.

Director of Music and Fine Arts Michael Caravello thanked parents for supporting and nurturing their children’s music education. “Musicians like the ones here know that being a true musician requires a person to see an end result and work backwards,” he said. “It requires them to analyze, evaluate and to problem solve. They are able to take difficult musical concepts and break them down into smaller components. These skills will not only prepare them for college and global competitiveness, but will also prepare them for whatever they choose to do for the rest of their lives.”

Family members looked on as continuing members were recognized and new inductees were honored for their efforts. Requirements needed to become a member of Tri-M are based on the society’s five points of distinction: scholarship, character, cooperation, leadership and service. The induction marks an individual’s successful completion of a term of candidacy.  

“A Tri-M member is one who sets a good example, is always willing to assist those students who are striving to better themselves in the music department, and is always one who remembers that it is a real honor to carry these responsibilities,” said Tri-M adviser Christine Creighton.

“To the graduating seniors – always remember that music is about sharing with friends and family,” said Caravello. “All of you represent what hard work, self-discipline and a lot of practice can do.”

Experiencing Music Around the World

Fourth-graders experienced sounds from around the world including Greece, Japan and South Africa as part of their Music Around the World unit. Led by music teacher Jessica Pastor, students played classroom instruments for their peers and parents in the style of the country they were chosen to represent. They also performed a dance that highlighted the style of each culture’s folk dance tradition.

“The students learned how to perform exciting musical pieces using instruments such as the metal xylophones, gongs, tambourines, drums and shakers,” said Pastor. “What is even more impressive is the fact that they learned how to do so in only four classes.”

Latin Students Conquer Certamen

High school Latin students participated in a Latin certamen at the State University of New York at Stony Brook on April 8. The group competed against 13 other schools from across Long Island in the fast-paced contest. The certamen is designed to test student knowledge in the areas of Latin grammar, vocabulary, word derivations, Roman life, history, mythology and literature. The Port Jefferson Level Three team – Ginny Albinson, Eric Kilgore, Anita Rescia and  Billy Witrock – and Advanced Level team –  Leah Neiman, Chiara Repetti-Ludlow, Alberto Rescia and Kent Ueno – took first place in their respective levels.

Italian Poetry Contest

Port Jefferson Italian language students competed against 30 schools from Nassau and Suffolk counties in the 30th annual American Association of Teachers of Italian Poetry contest at the State University of New York at Old Westbury. The mission of the American Association of Teachers of Italian, Long Island Chapter, is to promote the study, teaching and appreciation of Italian culture and language in academic and community settings. The winners were: Ben Zaltsman for level one (first place), Frederick Johs for level three (third place) and Alexander Rebic for participation (honorable mention).

Bassist Visits Port Jefferson

Bassist Man Wai Che, a graduate of the Juilliard School and Stony Brook University, visited elementary, middle and high school music students on April 8 for a string bass performance and workshop. Che performed works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Fritz Kreisler, Camille Saint-Saens and John Williams as well as a traditional Chinese song titled "Horse Race."

“The students were in awe of his ability and had many insightful questions regarding his playing techniques,” said orchestra teacher Vanessa Salzman.

Che, who has been playing bass for 16 years, spoke with the students about his passion for performing and sharing his music with others.

Students Attend Orchestra Concert

Forty Port Jefferson orchestra students and their parents attended the Stony Brook University Graduate Orchestra Concert on March 29. The performances, conducted by Eduardo Leandro, included pieces by Bartók, Debussy and Mozart. Tickets were provided courtesy of the Staller Center Outreach Endowment.

“It is so important for young children, especially aspiring musicians, to have exposure to live musical experiences,” said orchestra teacher Vanessa Salzman. “We are grateful for the relationship we have with Stony Brook University, as it allows our families this wonderful opportunity to enjoy the concerts of professional musicians within our own community. We hope to cultivate a lifelong appreciation for music and the arts within each of our students.”

Printmaking Residency Presented to Art Students

Long Island artist Dan Kudreyko presented a two-day, hands-on silk screen printing residency to high school students in Carrie Morgan's art classes on April 7 and 10. Using drawing and painting techniques, students were given the opportunity to print their own shirts, pillows, handbags and other fabrics, learning a new art medium while working alongside the renowned artist.

District Community Forum Series

April 30, 2014
7:00 p.m.
High School Auditorium
Topic:  Social Media

Please join us on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 7:00 p.m., as we welcome back Thomas Grimes of “NY Finest” for a presentation on social media for students and parents. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Internet Safety and the latest trends on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. Your comments and questions are welcome and appreciated.

“It takes a Village to Raise a Child”

PJ Board of Education REVISED Meeting Notice

The time of the April 23, 2014 special meeting of the Board of Education has been changed from 3:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the District Office for the purpose of voting on the Eastern Suffolk BOCES 2014-2015 Budget and Board Trustees.

Marvelous Map

Elementary school students in the second and fourth grades collaborated on a project that took a closer look at the 13 colonies. The grade levels’ combined curricula gave students the opportunity to learn about the colonies and present their findings to their peers.

“The second grade worked on putting the map together, giving it a title, a map key and labels,” said teacher Kristen Poulos. “The fourth-grade students researched information about the colonies, including founding date, major city and the date the colony became a state.”

To complete the project, students worked together to construct a wall-sized map for display in their hallway.

Seventh-Grader Places in Philharmonic Competition

Middle school student and violinist Annalisa Welinder recently received second prize in the 26th annual Long Island Philharmonic Young Artist Competition on March 26 at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale. The annual competition offers young Long Island musicians, like Annalisa, an opportunity to perform for a distinguished panel of judges, including members of the Philharmonic Orchestra. 

District Hosts Health and Wellness Expo

Members of the middle school seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra and high school saxophone quartet performed at the Health and Wellness Expo on April 5 at the high school. The student musicians, led by teachers Christine Creighton and Christian Neubert, performed classical musical selections as attendees visited a wide array of booths dedicated to all levels of health, wellness and fitness.  

MS Science Olympiad Team Ranks at States

The middle school Science Olympiad team placed 23rd out of 140 schools in the New York State Science Olympiad Competition. The event, which was held at Greece Arcadia High School in Rochester, N.Y., consisted of the top schools from 11 regions across New York State. Coach Adam Bouchard and teachers Deborah Hagmeyer and Marianne McFadden accompanied the team.

“The students worked hard and learned scientific concepts on a high school and college level,” said Bouchard. “Everyone enjoyed being in Rochester – it was a very worthwhile experience. We hope to return next year to states and build upon our team’s successes.”

The team took third place at the Suffolk County regional competition in March to qualify for the state competition. The district has been participating in the Middle School Science Olympiad event for more than 15 years.

Medal Winners:
Second Place – J.R. Knapp and Chandler Sciara for Helicopter
Third Place – Xinyi Hong and Arunima Roy for Invasives
Sixth Place – Xinyi Hong and Arunima Roy for Sound of Music

Top 20 Finishes:
Seventh Place – Isabella Koutsantanou and Cezanne Lojeski for Write It Do It
Eighth Place – Eli Doyle and Connor Kaminska for Wheeled Vehicle
13th Place – Xinyi Hong and Arunima Roy for Disease Detectives
15th Place – Eli Doyle and Connor Kaminska for Solar System
16th Place – Leland Held and James Kennedy for Shock Value
16th Place – Cezanne Lojeski and Max Okst for Boomilever
19th Place – Isabella Koutsantanou and Cezanne Lojeski for Anatomy

Rotary Names April Student of the Month

For the third year as a middle school student, eighth-grader Ibuki Iwasaki was the recipient of the Port Jefferson Rotary Club’s Most Motivated Student of the Month Award. She attended the Rotary luncheon on April 8, accompanied by her social studies teacher, Dr. Tara Sladek-Maharg, and principal Antonio Santana, who both offered words of praise.

“Not only is Ibuki an outstanding student, but she is also as a loyal friend to fellow students,” said Santana. “She is incredibly motivated and responsible.”

Ibuki, a violinist in the school orchestra, is looking forward to traveling to Japan this summer to visit with family and friends.

Power of One Family Fun Run

On April 5, the Royal Educational Foundation of Port Jefferson hosted its first Power of One Family Fun Run. Approximately 300 people registered for the two-mile run/walk through the streets of Port Jefferson Village. The event was designed to encourage physical activity and celebrate the positive influence we have on one another within our families and community.

Community members nominated elementary school principal Thomas Meehan to receive the Power of One award in honor of his tremendous contributions to the school and local community. Mr. Meehan was presented with an inscribed trophy that read:

“The little things you do each day have the power to affect a great many people. You inspire us with your willingness and ability to help others. You take on the world, one day at a time, continuously searching for a way to make things better, seizing the opportunity to improve everyday life. You make a world of a difference!"

Additionally, approximately $6,500 was raised during the event, which will be used to enhance the quality of education in Port Jefferson Schools.  

Wellness Students Get Whole Story on Health

On April 2 and 3, high school students in Dinarae Camarda’s Wellness and Fitness for All classes traveled to Whole Foods in Lake Grove. Approximately 80 students, who traveled in four separate half-day trips, were each given their own tour guided by a Whole Foods nutritional expert.

“We visited the produce section and learned about organically grown fruits and vegetables and the certifying agencies that deem crops organic,” said Camarda. “Students also learned about the federal regulations surrounding conventionally grown versus organically grown crops.”

Other topics of discussion included wild caught and farm-raised fish, GMOs, humanely raised animals, superfoods that are nutrient dense, beverages such as kombucha, and more. Students were given samples in every department and allowed to shop for a healthy snack to eat in the cafe.

Elementary Hosts Third Annual Science Fair

On March 26, 180 elementary school students participated in the school’s annual Science Fair. Students and family members were joined by representatives from Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Stony Brook University and Long Island Science Center, who each engaged the children with hands-on activities.
One Port Jefferson student from grades K-5 will move on to compete in the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary School Science Fair this May. More than 100 Suffolk County schools take part in the annual event where 470 projects created by more than 500 Suffolk County children compete.
Kindergarten – Sadie Salzman
First Grade – Rose Meliker Hammock
Second Grade – Olivia Bianco
Third Grade – Nicolina Giannola
Fourth Grade – Liam Sproul
Fifth Grade – Peggy Yin

High School Ranked Second in Suffolk

Washington Post Ranks Earl L. Vandermeulen Within Top Two High Schools in Suffolk County

The Washington Post released its annual list of America’s Most Challenging High Schools in the United States. The Port Jefferson School District is pleased to announce that with this year’s results, Earl L. Vandermeulen High School is ranked 322 out of 2,025 schools nationally, placing it 36th in the Northeast, 27th in New York State and second in Suffolk County. Port Jefferson has improved 15 spots in the state from 42nd in 2011.

“We are very proud to be included among these prestigious schools in the state and nation,” said Port Jefferson Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert. “This ranking recognizes the hard work and accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff and the community. As the race for excellence has no finish line, we will continue to work toward the No. 1 ranking.”

In order to calculate an index score for each school, researchers take the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divide it by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June.

Public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.00, meaning they had as many tests in 2013 as they had graduates, were put on the national list. Schools are ranked in order of ratio. Only 9 percent of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools managed to reach the standard and earn placement on the list.

Candidates for Board of Education

Residents of Port Jefferson School District interested in running for the Board of Education, please contact the District Clerk at (631) 791-4221. The deadline for required documents to be submitted for candidacy is 5:00 p.m. on April 21, 2014.

School Calendar Adjustments

Please read the attached letter regarding School Calendar Adjustments.


District Named Best Community for Music

The Port Jefferson School District has been ranked among the NAMM Foundation’s “Best Communities for Music Education” in America for the eighth consecutive year. The national program has put the spotlight on 376 selected school districts with outstanding commitment to music education.

The Best Communities designation recognizes collaborative, from-the-ground-up efforts of teachers, administrators, students and parents who continually work to keep comprehensive music education as an integral part of the core curriculum. More than 2,000 schools and school districts participated in the survey, resulting in a 21 percent increase in designations.

“These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum, supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director. “Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation brings hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”

Each school and district is evaluated based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.

An All-Access Pass to End Bullying

All Access Productions came to the middle school and high school on March 28 to give performances of “No More Victims,” a professionally produced musical that follows the lives of four high school students in various social roles within their school. The story gives insight into the students’ public personas and private struggles through singing, dancing, acting and video segments.

“Think about the choices you make,” said middle school principal Antonio Santana. “Be conscious of what you say to yourself and to others.”

“No More Victims” confronts the ongoing issue of bullying and violence in America’s schools and local communities. The production targeted bullying, cyberbullying, teen violence, teen suicide, image, self-worth, popularity, high expectations by adults and peers, and difficult relationships, among other issues.

After the performance, students were able to participate in a question-and-answer session and have lunch with some of the All Access cast members. The event was sponsored by the Port Jefferson PTSA.

Pointercounts Give Pitch Perfect Performance

On March 25, middle school music students were treated to a performance by the Potsdam Pointercounts, an award-winning a capella group from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. The group, which has been performing for more than 20 years, sang their way into the hearts and minds of students while encouraging them to continue in their musical studies.

“Stay involved in music programs,” said one Pointercount. “Being involved with the arts is something that will benefit you your whole life.”

The Pointercounts, who dedicate themselves to educating students of all ages about a cappella music and bringing the love of the arts into schools, performed a variety of musical styles for attendees.

“A cappella music holds historical and cultural significance,” said another member, “and we strive to make students aware of one of the oldest forms of choral singing. It is the mission of the Pointercounts to create an atmosphere that is conducive to the student’s ability to create and enjoy music.”

District’s Finest Honored at SCOPE Awards

Members of the Port Jefferson School District attended the 13th annual School District Awards Dinner hosted by SCOPE Education Services, a not-for-profit, private organization permanently chartered by the New York State Board of Regents to provide services to school districts. More than 900 people representing 37 districts attended the March 24 event.

Throughout the evening, service awards were presented in the areas of school board, community, support staff, teacher and administrator service recognizing individuals for their contributions to education. The Port Jefferson honorees included middle school English teacher Deirdre Filippi for teacher service, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Maureen Hull for administrative service and high school main office secretary Kathy Archacki for support staff service.

Members of the administration, Board of Education and teaching staff, as well as the spouses of the honorees, represented the district.

District Hosts 35th Annual Jump/Hoops for Heart

The Edna Louise Spear Elementary School physical education department teamed up with the PTA to host the American Heart Association Jump/Hoops for Heart event on March 20. Students in grades 2-5 participated in the event, which is in its 35th year at the district. During Jump/Hoops for Heart, participants learned about the importance of the heart, how it works and how to take care of it. Proceeds benefited the American Heart Association.

Art in Heart

Elementary school art students participated in the Long Island Art Teachers Association's “Art in Heart” exhibition at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville. Participating students included Carley Davidson, Alexa Eichinger, Jack Reilly, Hanna Simunek, Kevin Tian and Peggy Yin in teachers Richard Anderson and Nina Wood's art classes. The exhibit will be available for public viewing until April 27.

Putting the Pieces Together

The district congratulates middle school teacher Michelle Landetta for her recent recognition by Autism Speaks, a national autism advocacy organization dedicated to funding research and raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families and society. Michelle, who is also the school’s National Junior Honor Society adviser, was honored for her work with the group in fundraising and promoting awareness. The honor society dedicated their lunchtime to selling Autism Speaks puzzle pieces and bracelets to benefit the organization and its mission.

On her certificate of recognition from Autism Speaks, Michelle was acknowledged for her support of the organization and its mission to find the causes, effective treatment and cure of autism spectrum disorders; for raising public awareness about autism; and for bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of the disorder.
Thursday, April 24, 2014