Fourth-Grader Tops in Geo Bee

Fourth-grader Olivia Schlegel has what it takes to be a Geography Bee winner.

After competing with fellow fourth- and fifth-grade SEAL students on Jan. 16, Olivia came out on top, answering the most questions correctly during three rounds of questioning. Haruki Takeuchi placed second in the bee.

Olivia now qualifies for the Geography Bee written qualifying exam, which will be administered at the end of January. If successful, she will have the opportunity to participate in the state bee.

Schools Closed Wednesday, Jan. 28

All Port Jefferson schools and offices will be closed on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015.

Anticipated Regents Schedule for 1/29 & 1/30


Port Jefferson School Board Honors Students

The Board of Education recognized the charter members of the high school’s new Investment Club with a certificate of recognition during their Jan. 13 meeting.

“These students deserve the highest compliments for their persistence and for attracting 15 percent of the school’s population. They have done a good job,” said Dr. Kenneth Bossert, superintendent.
The Investment Club, which has more than 50 members, launched in October 2014 after student Dan Scarda garnered student signatures and BOE approval. The club focuses on the financial industry and participates in mock stock market competitions.

Middle school Spanish teacher Bob Ferenga serves as the club adviser.

Collegial Circle Focuses on Best Practices

As part of the district’s focus on best practices, teachers and staff recently participated in a Collegial Circle, hosted by middle school Principal Antonio Santana. The program focused on how methodologies related to visualizing the learning process can be implemented to optimize student learning in Port Jefferson’s classrooms.

Faculty participants engaged in lively discussions revolving around a Harvard University publication, titled “Visible Learners, Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools.”

The publication, which was produced by Project Zero, describes how observing and documenting learning can change the nature of that learning. It features five key principles of learning — namely, that it is purposeful, social, representational, empowering and emotional.

“[The publication] asks teachers and educators to look beyond the surface to understand who their students are, what they come to know, and how they come to know it,” said Santana.

Serving Up Success

The middle school girls volleyball team successfully concluded their season with an undefeated record of 10-0. Coach Amanda DiPietro and the district extend their congratulations to all players.

Baking Bread for those in Need

As part of their character education and math lessons, students in Nancy Winkler-Brogan’s third-grade class baked bread for those in need.

Using skills learned from a Common Core math module, “Place Value and Problem Solving with Units of Measure,” students were able to translate their skills into the real world by measuring ingredients to make 21 loaves of bread.

The bread was then delivered by high school staff member Gene Holland to Grace Care Outreach of Medford. Mr. Holland has volunteered at the outreach center for the past 13 years and was grateful for the donation.

“The bread fed a lot of people and for some, it was their one and only gift this year,” said Mr. Holland.

“During this activity, the students learned many things, but most importantly, how important it is to take the time to help others in need,” said Ms. Winkler-Brogan.

Field Hockey Players Earn Awards

Four high school varsity field hockey players were recognized at the Suffolk County Field Hockey Dinner on Dec. 9 at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook.

Three seniors - Shannon Fee, Lauren McGuirk and Tammy Serabian – were named All-Division players, while sophomore Jackie Brown was named an All-County player.

The district extends its congratulations to these student-athletes.



A meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on January 27, 2015, 6:00 p.m., at the District Office, for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss personnel and legal matters; and any other business as may be needed.

The regular monthly business meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on February 10, 2015, 7:30 p.m., at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School.  Call to order will be at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss personnel and legal matters.

Musicians Attend Lincoln Center Performance

More than 50 elementary, middle and high school string players had the opportunity to attend an evening performance of the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fischer Hall in Lincoln Center on Jan. 8.

Following the performance, the students were greeted by maestro Alan Gilbert, conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra.

“It was an evening these young musicians will remember for years to come,” said Michael Caravello, director of music and fine arts.

Sophomore Named Roots and Shoots Ambassador

High school sophomore Arunima Roy has been named as an ambassador for the Roots and Shoots National Youth Council, which was founded by Dr. Jane Goodall and focuses on worldwide environmental issues.

Arunima, who is a member of the high school’s Environmental Club, received the honor after an application process, which included two interviews.

As an ambassador, Arunima will work to foster fellow ambassadors on their individual environmental projects and look to gain support on an Environmental Club project, which aims to garner funding to protect rainforest wildlife.

“I am honored and look forward to bettering the world through projects that support animals and the environment,” said Arunima.

Creative Problem-Solving Through Art

At the elementary school, the after-school Art Club is not only a place where fifth-graders can express their talents, but also where they can use their problem-solving skills to create “artistic solutions.”

Recently, Art Club advisor Richard Anderson tasked students with creating two projects: a functional light sculpture from papier-mâché and decorative clay birdhouses. The students were required to use their problem-solving skills to creatively construct the projects using only the materials provided to them.

The club members’ finished sculptures and birdhouses were testament to the problem-solving skills they have acquired.

Eighth-grader Earns Perfect Score in Math Contest

Eighth-grader Mayu Takeuchi earned a perfect score on the 2014 American Mathematics Contest AMC 8.

The score, said math teacher Matt Garofola, is an outstanding accomplishment.  Only 214 students in the United States from more than 130,000 participants earned a perfect score.

Mayu, who is enrolled in two high school math courses, Geometry and Algebra II/Trigonometry, was thrilled with her score, especially since this was the last opportunity she had to participate in the contest.

According to the Mathematical Association of America’s website, “AMC 8 is a 25-question, 40-minute, multiple choice examination in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development and enhancement of problem-solving skills.”

Seniors Receive Congressional Service Academy Nominations

Two high school seniors have been honored with Congressional Service Academy nominations by former Congressman Timothy Bishop.

A Congressional nomination is a necessary first step in gaining acceptance into a military academy and requires students to submit applications and participate in an interview process.

The Port Jefferson students, Dylan Wennerod and James Murphy, have both had lifelong dreams of attending a service academy.

Dylan intends to apply to the Merchant Marine Academy to study engineering as well as play football, a sport he has been involved in since the third grade. “I have always wanted to serve my country,” said Dylan. “Both of my grandfathers were in the military.”

James said he too has always had his eye on attending a military school. His goal is to attend West Point, a school he was exposed to when he competed in gymnastics. Also motivating him is a long line of relatives who have served their country.

James said he plans to study engineering or possibly pre-med, as he is considering a future career as a physical therapist.

SBU Professor Lectures Students on Climate Change

As part of their studies, high school students in Jon Maletta’s Living Environment class heard from Dr. Jessica Gurevitch, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University.

Dr. Gurevitch spoke to students about key connections found between an increase in anthropogenic pollution in the form of greenhouse gases and average global temperatures. “So much evidence has now accumulated that there is no remaining scientific doubt that rising CO2 is resulting in an increased greenhouse effect,” she said.

Dr. Gurevitch laid out historical references and data collection techniques for determining carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Among her examples, she described ice core sampling techniques in which small bubbles that trap gases aid in developing a chronological understanding of carbon dioxide concentrations dating back 800,000 years.

She also emphasized the importance of understanding projected temperature changes and the impact on vulnerable, low-lying areas such as the New York Metro Area, the Maldives and Myanmar.

Mr. Maletta noted that his students were actively engaged in the discussion and appreciated the detailed presentation.

Royal Singers Entertain Seawolves

Members of the high school chamber choir shared their musical talents on Dec. 23 by performing at a Stony Brook University Seawolves basketball game.

The Port Jefferson vocalists greeted fans with holiday carols before kicking off the game by singing the national anthem.

Port Jefferson Spelling Champ Named

Elementary student William Wu came out on top after participating in the National Scripts Spelling Bee on Dec. 18.

William was among 16 contestants from each fourth- and fifth-grade class who competed in the championship round.  He took the top spot after successfully spelling “gambol.”

William will now move on to the final local spelling bee at Hofstra University on Feb. 8.

AP Bio Students Explore DNA

Greg Gorniok’s AP Bio students had the opportunity to explore DNA when they took a field trip to Stony Brook University’s technology lab on Dec. 10.

During the visit, the students used biological tools to cut and identify segments of DNA in a workshop called Gel Electropharisis, a process by which diseases are identified.

The students will take another trip to the lab later this year for a workshop called Bacterial Transformation, in which they will use glowing jellyfish genes to detect water pollutants.

Student for a Day

In an effort to gain insight into their students’ lives, two high school teachers recently posed as students for a day. The exercise was something Principal Dr. Matthew Murphy advocated for, saying it was an opportunity for the teachers to learn more about their students.

According to social studies teacher Jesse Rosen and English teacher Matt Sefick, that is just what happened. Both teachers dressed as students, completed homework assignments, changed for gym, took quizzes and tests, and attended a full day of classes.

Mr. Rosen, who spent the day in 10th-grade classes, said the experience was eye-opening and one he will not forget. He said that while teaching, he would often become frustrated when students would start to pack up minutes before the bell would ring. However, after being a student for a day, he now understands why they do it.

“I forgot that these students have just three minutes to get from one class to the next,” he said. He also learned it wasn’t easy to stay fully engaged for nine periods a day.

Similarly, Mr. Sefick, who spent the day as a senior taking five Advanced Placement classes, said the transition from one class to the next was very challenging.

“One moment, I was thinking about the unemployment rate in the United States,” he said. “The next, I was in a dark room trying to develop pictures, and later, I was trying to evaluate the effectiveness of a written argument. To shift my focus from one subject to the next proved difficult.”
Mr. Sefick also said he was amazed by how much a mistake in class affected him. “In my first-period class, I made an error in my calculations that I should not have made and I carried that with me for the rest of the day,” he said. “This reminded me of how much students internalize their mistakes and might have trouble sloughing them off and moving on.”

Mr. Sefick found the overall experience to be a rewarding one. Based on his day as a senior, he plans to make a few changes in his classroom, such as being more comforting to students who might answer a question wrong and more complimentary to those who answer correctly.

Photo Caption: Port Jefferson social student teacher Jesse Rosen posed as a student for a day in an effort to gain insight into his students’ lives. Pictured with him is health teacher Mike Maletta.

Motivated Student Honored

At its Dec. 9 meeting, the Port Jefferson Rotary Club honored seventh-grader Dennis Jourdain as November’s Most Motivated Student of the Month.

Dennis was nominated for the honor by his English teacher, Deirdre Filippi, who commented on Dennis as being a “super kid,” as well as hardworking and diligent. Fellow teachers, she noted, agree that Dennis is well-deserving of the award.

“It is evident that Dennis is on track to repeat this feat before he moves up from middle school to high school,” she said.

Student Council to Raise Money for Lymphoma Society

The middle school student council has started a “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser in an effort to raise $1,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Throughout January, the students will be collecting money during their seventh period class and online. Also during that time, student council members will share information with their classmates about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

To raise additional funds, students will be holding after-school bake sales on Jan. 15 and Jan. 22. Student council members are also collecting $5 from classmates for a “Pay to Play” fundraiser to buy a pass to play computer games during lunch.

For more information on the student council’s fundraiser, click here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015