A special meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on August 25, 2014, 6:00 p.m., at the District Office, for the purpose of taking action on personnel items and other business as may be needed.

HS Tennis Courts Closed

The tennis courts at the high school are closed until further notice for reconditioning.

Class of 2014 Joins Ranks of Port Jeff Alumni

Dressed in purple and white caps and gowns, the 2014 Earl L. Vandermeulen High School graduating class was warmly greeted by friends, family, teachers and administrators as they took their places at their graduation ceremony on June 27.

Held on the high school’s athletic grounds, the ceremony began with a welcome speech by Student Organization President Kirsten Crovello, who told her classmates that they are set to embark on a new journey where they can reinvent themselves. “We can step out of our comfort zone, take every opportunity [afforded to us] and travel,” she said.

In his address, salutatorian Kent Ueno spoke of the cooperation among his fellow students, who, he noted, had always been there to lend a hand. “While each of us has our quirks,” he said, “we all have cooperation and have helped to mold and shape each other over the past four years.”

Parent speaker Dominick Famularo, who travels the world as a motivational speaker, gave sage advice to the graduates, but not before first taking a “selfie” with them. In his speech, Famularo told the graduates to always listen, to find their passion, to understand that dreams can change, and to never look at an obstacle as a problem, but rather as a challenge. “You can rise to a challenge,” he said.

Dr. Kenneth Bossert, superintendent of schools, reminded students that while they are leaving the Port Jefferson school district, they would “forever be part of our Royal family.”

Rather than give a typical graduation speech, valedictorian Danielle Grier chose instead to deliver her words in the form of a thoughtfully worded rhyming poem in which she reflected on the past.

In ceremonial tradition, Dr. Bossert presented each member of the graduating class with a diploma, after which Principal Matthew Murphy wished the students well in their future endeavors.


Junior Digitizes School Logo, Receives BOE Approval

During its July 1 meeting, the Board of Education recognized junior Joseph Iasso for his work in redesigning and digitizing the school district’s logo, which the board unanimously supported.

According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, Iasso’s reinvented school logo, originally designed by Chester Davis in 1935, will soon begin to appear on various school documents.

Iasso took on the task of redesigning the logo after attempting to use the former one for a project and finding that as he enlarged it, its quality diminished.

“I decided I wanted to make it look more artistic,” he said.

In his redesign, Iasso added new seahorses, a compass, an anchor and a boat. He also took some artistic liberty in adding a crown to the top.

“The crown really represents the school because we are the Royals,” he said.  

Assistant Principal Christine Austen praised Iasso’s work and said Iasso is a student who always makes things happen behind the scenes, from organizing the school’s junior prom to working on the district’s safety committee.

BOE Members Sworn In; President, Vice President Re-elected

During the Board of Education’s annual reorganizational meeting on July 1, board members Adam Dewitt and Robert Ramus, who were both re-elected by the community in May, were sworn in by District Clerk Janice Baisley, who was also sworn in during the meeting.

The board also unanimously re-elected Kathleen Brennan as board president and James Laffey as board vice president. The pair were administered the oath of office by Baisley.

“I thank the board for their vote of confidence,” Brennan said before being sworn in. “It has been a pleasure to serve and I am confident we will continue to do the same good job that we’ve been doing.”


Prom 2014 Videos

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Music Students Perform at Bethpage Ballpark

Fifth- and sixth-grade music students had the opportunity to perform the national anthem at Bethpage Ballpark on June 30.

The performance, which took place at a game where the Long Island Ducks played the Bridgeport Bluefish, doubled as a fundraiser for the Class of 2021. Organized by music teacher Mark Abbonizio, the event was attended by numerous parents and family members in support of the student-musicians.

Congratulations to all of the students who performed.

HS Music Students Headed for World Tour

This summer, five high school music students are set to travel to France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland as part of American Music Abroad's summer music tour.

The students – Raquel Accardo, Julia Durfee, Alden Mohacsi, Adam Nieves and Parker Schoch – were selected to participate in the tour following an audition process. They will depart from JFK Airport after several days of rehearsals at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Their first Europe performance will be in Paris.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the Port Jefferson musical ambassadors.

Moving Up to High School

The 91 members of the eighth-grade class were honored on June 26 at an annual moving up ceremony at the high school.

In addition to every graduate receiving their diploma, a number of select scholars were honored for outstanding achievements, receiving academic awards for English, math, social studies, foreign language, art and music. Other awards included the New York State Attorney General’s Triple “C” Award, the New York State Comptroller’s Award, the Principal’s Award, the Rotary Club’s Most Motivated Student Award and spirit awards.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert addressed the class as well. “I am fortunate to have known you over the past 10 years and am overjoyed to see you grow,” he said. “This is certainly not an ending, but a beginning.”

Performing under band director Edward Pisano, the seventh/eighth-grade band provided music for the evening, with selections including Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”



Fifth-Graders Move Up to Middle School

The district celebrated the accomplishments of 98 fifth-graders during a moving up ceremony at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School on June 25.

During the ceremony, numerous students were honored with achievement awards, including recognitions from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Students were recognized with awards for classroom citizenship and excellence in language arts, math, science and social studies, as well as with the Principal’s Citizenship Award and safety patrol awards.

Parents Francine Mosche and Jennifer Skulla addressed the students, with Skulla reminding them that they would always be part of the Port Jefferson school family, which would grow larger when they move on to middle school and high school.  

After a performance of “My Favorite Things” by students Olivia Ross and Sophie Xu, the students were each handed their certificates.

“Watching you mature has brought a smile to my face,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, who urged the students to take advantage of the opportunities and friendships that await them in middle school. “Make sure you enjoy every day and the opportunity that is presented to you, and find out what your thing will be.”

Also addressing the students were retiring teacher Margaret Moore and Principal Thomas Meehan, who gave the fifth-graders a heartwarming send-off as he spoke of the many positive things they had accomplished over the years. “Continue to be yourselves,” he encouraged them.  



Music Students Perform at Village Fundraiser

Elementary and middle school students did their part to improve Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson by performing classical and popular music at a fundraiser on June 8.

The fundraiser was part of the village’s campaign to redesign the park, which is slated for a new playground, walkways and seating.

While the students performed, visitors enjoyed treats and other entertainment.

Students Send Off Rescued Seal

Third-grade students from Port Jefferson Elementary School gave a rescued seal a warm send-off on June 20 at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai.

The students lined the beach to watch as PJ Liberty, a male gray seal, was released back into the water after the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research rescued him on April 25.

As part of their studies on Port Jefferson history and its waterways, the students adopted, named and kept track of PJ Liberty’s progress.

When PJ Liberty was first rescued, it was found that he suffered a laceration on his shoulder and ulcers in his mouth, but after being given antibiotics and tube-fed a liquid diet, he began to heal. He now eats eight pounds of herring a day.

As PJ Liberty made his way down the beach to the water, students cheered and waved goodbye. The seal reciprocated by popping his head up after diving into the water as if to say thank you.

“I think the seal was very happy to see all the people that cared about him and to finally go home,” said student Amy Whitman.

Students Daniel Brosman, Grace Chambers and Olivia Ross agreed that they were very lucky to witness PJ Liberty’s release. “Some kids don’t get to do things like this,” said Ross. “We were very lucky.”

After watching PJ Liberty head home, the students worked to clean up the beachfront before heading back to school.  

Egyptians and Mummies Take Over Third-Grade Classroom

Doreen Marullo’s third-grade classroom at Port Jefferson Elementary School was transformed into an Egyptian museum on June 19, complete with a mummy chamber and a giant sphinx. The museum was part of Marullo’s six-week lesson on Egyptian history.

The exhibits, which combined technology with students’ writing and artwork, demonstrated what the third-graders had learned. Featured were exhibits on Egyptian dress, cooking, burial, art, writing and geography. Each station included a technology component where viewers could watch a video created by the students on the district’s recently purchased iPads, as well as a QR code allowing visitors to download the videos on their smartphones.

In addition to making informational videos, the students also produced their own music videos, changing the lyrics of well-known songs to ones about Egypt.

The museum, named MOMA (Museum of Marullo Authors), was open throughout the day to visiting classes. Visitors were greeted by two students, dressed as Egyptian statues, while Marullo’s other students, wearing Egyptian garb, gave tours and shared what they learned.

“We really learned a lot about Egyptian culture,” said third-grader Olivia Schlegel. “I especially liked learning about the Great Sphinx and making a sarcophagus out of clay.”

Students Take Virtual Tour of Barnum Museum

Third-graders recently took a virtual tour of the Barnum Museum in Connecticut with the help of technology.

A total of 86 students from four classes spoke via Skype to Melissa Houston, who discussed the museum’s history and the legacy of Tom Thumb and P.T. Barnum, whose roots run deep in Port Jefferson. Houston also showed students various artifacts from the museum, including Tom Thumb’s wedding cakes and items Barnum had brought back from his various travels with the circus.

Teacher Nancy Winkler-Brogan explained that students normally took field trips to the museum in years past. However, the last several winter storms had severely damaged the historic site, which is currently undergoing renovations.

The next best thing, she said, was to create a virtual tour that would culminate students’ recent lessons on Port Jefferson history. Students also learned about Barnum’s link to the Port Jefferson Ferry, founded by Barnum in 1883 under the name Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Steamboat.

Despite not being able to go to the museum, student Olivia Ross said she thought the virtual tour was a great way to learn about Barnum. “I think it’s cool that we can Skype the museum,” she said. “I really like learning about P.T. Barnum and knowing that the circus is part of Port Jefferson’s history.”

Tenured Educators & Farewell to Retirees

At its June 10 meeting, the Board of Education bid a warm farewell to six retiring employees and congratulated nine educators on receiving tenure.

It was an emotional moment for principals and department heads as they shared kind words about the retiring teachers and secretaries who had worked tirelessly for the students, noting they could never truly be replaced.

“All of you touched the lives of students through your acts of kindness,” said Board President Kathleen Brennan.

Those retiring are Kathleen Archacki, Donald Butler, Patricia Dowden, Barbara Kolonoski, Margaret Moore and Belinda Rowan.

The board also congratulated recently tenured employees Christina Carlson, Arin Hampson, Michelle Lautato, Thomas Meehan, Jessica Pastor, Kristen Poulos, Kristine Vacarro, Mary Jo Zimmermann and Melissa Zinger.  Sean Leister, Assistant Superintendent for Business, was also recognized for the tenure he received earlier this year.  

The principals and department heads spoke of the good work each of the tenured employees have been doing every day in the district. “They’ve earned this, and we look forward to their continued success,” said Brennan.   

Mathletes Honored at Awards Dinner

At the Suffolk County Math Teachers Association awards dinner on May 19, the Port Jefferson Mathletes team was recognized for winning big this year.
During the dinner, Mathletes Alberto Rescia and Ryan Burke (team captain) and coach Dennis Christofor accepted the team’s award for placing first in Division 1 of the Suffolk County Math Tournament.

Members of the winning team include juniors Burke and Ju Mi Ha and seniors Danielle Grier, Romain Popescu, Rescia and Kent Ueno.

In addition to placing first, Burke, a top team scorer, placed 10th individually in the county out of 800 participants. He was awarded a third-place plaque in the SCMTA Calculus Level Math Contest, which was held in March. Burke also participated in the 2014 American Regional Math League at Pennsylvania State University, representing Port Jefferson High School as a member of the Suffolk County ARML team on May 31. While there, he scored in the top 20 percent of students.

The Suffolk County ARML team also scored high in the nationwide competition, placing 12th out of 60 teams after competing in a variety of team events and the final round.  


Students Recognized for Volunteer Efforts

At its June 10 meeting, the Board of Education recognized and congratulated 23 high school and middle school students on earning the Presidential Service Award.  

The students, each of whom volunteered between 50 and 100 hours of their time to the Port Jefferson community, were presented with the award by parent volunteer Jackie Hull.

“We are happy to honor some of the best and brightest students in the district who have given back to their community,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert.

The students recognized with the Presidential Service Award were:

Virginia Albinson, Chloe Isabella Andriani, Nicholas Thomas Andriani, Nicholas Caltagirone, Sam Caltagirone, Lia Desmond, Olivia Desmond, Eli Doyle, Chloe Brooke Dugourd, Sarah Elizabeth Hull, Thomas Henry Hull, James Kennedy, Michael Kennedy, Joseph Luca, Max Okst, Skylar Pine, Chloe Savino, Jillian Sullivan, Luigia Than, Karin Thomassen, Alexa Williams, Eric Zimmermann and Noelle Zimmermann.  

Students Enjoy Hands-on Field Trip

In their last year as elementary school students, fifth-graders took a field trip to Nassau BOCES’ Outdoor Education Center, known as “Project Adventure,” on June 2.

During the trip, which was organized by the district’s PTA, the students were divided into mixed groups and moved through various hands-on activities designed to develop and foster communication, cooperation, trust and problem-solving skills.

Teacher Gina Santini, whose class participated in the trip, said her soon-to-be elementary graduates enjoyed their time at the center as well as strengthening their personal and interpersonal skills.

Summer Reading Information

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14th Annual Scraggy Walk/Run

More than 600 Edna Louise Spear Elementary students came together on the sunny morning of June 6 for the 14th annual Scraggy Walk/Run.

Wearing shirts representing their grade, the students, along with parents, did their best to run a 1.1-mile course through Scraggy Hill Park’s fields and woods, some finishing in as little as seven minutes. All were cheered on by teachers, parents and fellow students as they approached the finish line. They were also treated to cold water and ice pops.

According to Debra Ferry, director of health, physical education and athletics, the students began training three weeks prior to the event by walking, running laps, and swimming.

“This is a great event that promotes physical fitness in the family,” said Ferry, adding that she hopes the event will turn some of the students on to running track and field when they reach the middle and high school.

“We love promoting physical fitness in a way that can be a lifelong activity,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, who cheered students on from the starting line. “It is great to see so many parents and community members out here supporting this event.”


Port Jefferson Athletes Recognized at Awards Night

More than 60 high school seniors in the Port Jefferson School District were recognized for their athletic accomplishments at an awards ceremony on June 5 in the high school auditorium.

During the evening, the students’ coaches honored every athlete, sharing memories of their accomplishments on the field, during tournaments and in games. All honorees were presented with senior athletic awards, as well as NYSPHSAA Scholar/Athlete Team awards for teams whose members maintained at least a 90 percent GPA during their sports season.  

One highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Friends of Christine Stoddard scholarship to boys varsity baseball team member Morgan Sakovich and girls varsity soccer player Mairead Swards.

The second highlight came as Debra Ferry, the district’s director of physical education, health and athletics, presented this year’s Outstanding Athlete awards to soccer and basketball player Olivia Racanelli and track and field athlete Jasper Rubin-Sigler, who was unable to attend the ceremony, as he was competing at the state championships.

Along with Ferry and the coaches, Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Bossert thanked the athletes for their hard work and their parents for supporting them.

“I am very proud of our athletic program and am most proud of how you each prioritized athletics, academics and community service,” Bossert said to the athletes.

 “You should be proud to be part of a team,” Ferry said. “You all have the common bond of being a Port Jefferson athlete. Take pride in what you have done.”

Serving as a guest speaker was Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant, who told the students that their time as athletes has given them life skills, including etiquette, sportsmanship, fair play, how to lose gracefully, how to win gracefully, how to be a team player and how to close out a match.

“You are all Port Jefferson champions,” Garant said. “May you always move forward with the wind behind your back.”

Congratulations to the following senior athletes:

Amr Abdel Salam, Casey Abelein, Aaron Accardo, Cihad Akkaya, John Albinson, Corbin Apple, Ashley Aspromonte, Megan Augsbach, Justin Bove, Alexander Bruno, Margaret Butera, Paul Cavanagh, Elisabeth Ciancarelli, Katherine Colantuoni, Harrison Colucco, Kirsten Crovello, Tyler D’Accordo, Melissa Darling, Kiera Elliott, Jesse Fallon, Calvin Fernandez, Kyle Fiske, Teresa Gomes, Cassandra Gray, Danielle Grier, Daniel Gross, Cameron Harvey, Nicholas Heide, Trystan Hoffmann, Patrick Hughes, Victoria Juliano, Christopher Julich, Evan Kelly, Eric Keresztes, Noah Kirchner, Michael Laffey, Evan Lahey, Gabriella Martinez, Naji Nizam, Nathaniel Place, Romain Popescu, Francesca Racanelli, Olivia Racanelli, Hunter Reiter, Chiara Repetti-Ludlow, Vincent Romita, Steven Rose, Jasper Rubin-Sigler, Sydney Ruggiero, Morgan Sakovich, Joshua Skula, Gabrielle Stark, Cody Steiner, Emma Strehle, Mairead Swords, James Tsunis, Kent Ueno, Demitria Ulino, Shannon Walsh, Jill Webb and Ryan Woodward.


Ensembles Perform at NYSSMA

The high school wind ensemble and middle school seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra performed at the NYSSMA Major Organization Festival at William Floyd High School on May 30.

Both groups performed several pieces for a panel of adjudicators, who evaluated them on quality of performance and level of musicianship.

The district congratulates both the wind ensemble and orchestra, along with music teachers Christine Creighton and Christian Neubert, on their outstanding performances.

SBU String Quartet Performs for MS Students

Orchestra students at Port Jefferson Middle School were treated to a performance by Stony Brook University’s string quartet on May 4 in the Port Jefferson High School auditorium. The event was made possible by the Staller Center Outreach Endowment program, headed by Staller Center outreach coordinator Paul Newland.

The quartet, comprised of violinists Anne Sophie Anderson and Andy Bhasin, violists Philip Carter and Brett Walfish, and cellist Kumee Lee, performed works by Brahms, Dvorak, Shostakovich and Piazzolla. Pieces included Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 “American,” Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, Piazzolla’s “Liber Tango” and an arrangement of an Avril Lavigne song by Bhasin.

In addition to playing for the students, the quartet listened to and critiqued a performance by the sixth-grade orchestra, directed by Dr. Vanessa Salzman.

The quartet praised the students’ performance and worked with them on their pizzicato and tone.  

Port Jefferson Musician Hits a High Note

Annalisa Welinder, a seventh-grader at Port Jefferson Middle School, took first place in the Sound Symphony Orchestra’s annual solo competition on May 17 for her performance on violin.

With the win, Welinder now has the opportunity to be featured as a soloist with the orchestra during its 2014-2015 concert season.

A panel of judges ranked Welinder based on overall performance and style.

Students Earn High Marks on National Latin Exam

Port Jefferson Middle and High School Latin students recently took the 2014 National Latin Exam, earning some of the highest marks in the country and world. They were awarded for their accomplishments at a luncheon on May 23 in the high school library.

During the event, the 54 students, who were among 154,000 students from 49 states and 17 foreign countries to take the annual exam, were presented with certificates of achievement as their parents looked on.

Of the students, five were presented with achievement certificates for marks on their Latin I test, 12 with outstanding achievement certificates with a purple ribbon, and four received a certificate of merit for achieving a perfect score on the exam.

Students who took the test on the Latin II, IV and V levels scored equally as well: 16 students were awarded gold medals, two of whom received perfect scores; 10 students received silver medals; three students obtained magna cum laude awards; and two were presented with cum laude awards.

“It is wonderful to see the Latin program’s scholars continue to achieve,” said Dr. Kenneth R. Bossert, the district’s superintendent of schools.

“I am so proud of the success that Ms. Anne Algieri promotes with all her students,” added Dr. Matthew Murphy, principal of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

The district congratulates the following students on receiving awards:

Achievement Certificate, Latin I: Cameron Cohen, Ryan Kim, John O’Connor, Ryan Robertson, John Tsunis  

Outstanding Achievement Certificate with Purple Ribbon, Latin I: Katherine Ambrozy, Gavin Barrett, Emma Gutmann, Piper Heide, Sarah Hull, Hyun Jin Lee, Cezanne Lojeski, Brian Mark, David Rotunno, Ava Schully, Sabrina Schully, Mayu Takeuchi          

Certificate of Merit with Purple Ribbon, Latin I: Ibuki Iwasaki, Francine Leung, Joseph Samara, Annalisa Welinder   

Outstanding Performance, Latin II:
Gold Medal, summa cum laude: Anna Desan, Edward Finkelstein, Xinyi Hong, Isabella Koutsantanou, Matthew Pifko, Chiara Rabeno, Luigia Than

Silver Medal, maxima cum laude: John Collins, Connor Kaminska, Arunima Roy, Paul Simmerling  

Magna cum laude: Louis Martin-Deprez            

Outstanding Performance, Latin III:
Gold Medal, summa cum laude: Virgina Albinson, Rachel Collins, Eric Kilgore, Anita Rescia,William Witrock  

Silver Medal, maxima cum laude: Courtney Lewis, Troy Lov

Magna cum laude: Emma Martin, Elisa Ueno

Outstanding Performance, Latin IV Prose
Gold Medal, summa cum laude: Noah Davis, Lara Sarubbi, Natalia Zaliznyak

Silver Medal, maxima cum laude: Ryan Burke, Carly Cherches, Julia Kharzeev

Magna cum laude: Neil Alvarez, Ju Mi Ha

Outstanding Performance, Latin V Advanced

Gold Medal, summa cum laude: Leah Neiman, Alberto Rescia, Kent Ueno

Silver Medal, maxima cum laude: Chiara Repetti-Ludlow
Thursday, August 21, 2014