AP Environmental Students Visit Cornell
High school students in Jonathan Maletta’s Advanced Placement environmental science class visited the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Long Island Horticultural Research Center in Riverhead on Nov. 22. Students met with several scientists, including plant pathologist Margery Daughtery, entomologist Dan Gilrein and associate entomologist Dr. Faruque Zaman.
“The students were actively engaged in discussion related to pathogenic agents, agricultural techniques, integrated pest management and genetically modified organisms,” said Maletta. “They discussed the advantages and disadvantages of GMOs and explored eco-friendly methods to disrupt the life cycle of pests in order to protect wine grapes and apple orchards on the North Fork of Long Island.”
The young scientists also weighed in on key topics related to the rapid spread of invasive species, such as the Asian long-horned beetle which destroys trees and the tiger mosquito, a carrier of Dengue Fever, found recently on Long Island. Lastly, students observed greenhouse facilities to examine how scientists set up controlled experiments to conduct research.
Volleyball Team Recognized at County Banquet
Two members of the Port Jefferson School District athletic community were commended for their outstanding contributions to Suffolk County volleyball. Coach Dinarae Camarda and student-athlete Megan Augsbach were recognized at the Suffolk County Volleyball Coaches Association Fall Awards Banquet on Dec. 2 at the East Wind in Wading River. Megan received All-League recognition for her outstanding play this past season with the Port Jefferson varsity team (League 8) and Coach Camarda was named League 8 JV Coach of the Year.
Winter Concerts Broadcast LIVE over the Internet
MS Grades 7&8 Winter Concert Program
All of our Winter Concerts are being broadcast live over the internet.
You will need the Real Player to view the LIVE video stream on your PC.
It can be downloaded by following the link below:
Click HERE for the Real Player Download
Click HERE to start the LIVE Stream on your Computer with the Real Player
Click HERE to start the LIVE Stream on your iPod/iPhone/iPad
Archived video will be available the morning after the concerts on each of the building's home pages under the announcements section.
Common Core Conversation: Middle School Math
On Nov. 20, the Port Jefferson School District PTSA hosted Common Core Conversation: Middle School Math, which focused on the new Common Core math modules for grades 6-8. Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Maureen Hull, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, Port Jefferson Middle School Principal Antonio Santana and middle school math teachers Monica Consalvo, Matt Garofola, Megan Ryan and Jamie Veraldi discussed module terminology, a summary of the curriculum, and resources to support students’ work at home.
Superintendent Bossert began the two-hour informational meeting by providing a brief overview of the Common Core State Standards and the rationale behind the shift to Common Core, as well as the potential consequences of failing to make the shift.
“There are many ways to approach the implementation of Common Core,” said Bossert. “I have been very impressed with the faculty, staff and community of Port Jefferson because of the way that the entire movement has been addressed – we recognize it as a challenge and are working to rise to meet that challenge.”
Next, Mrs. Hull detailed the six pedagogical shifts in mathematics demanded by the Common Core State Standards – focus, coherence, fluency, deep understanding, application and dual-intensity. She also introduced the Common Core State Standards Initiative along with other available resources that provide further insight for parents. “The Common Core Initiative is aimed at instilling a common understanding for students, parents and educators about what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate high school to succeed in college and careers,” said Mrs. Hull.
Following Mrs. Hull was Principal Santana who expounded on the shifts, pointing out that curriculum being taught went from more material with less depth to less material with much greater depth. “The modules that we are using represent the ways that our students think about math,” he said.
The floor was then turned over to the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math teachers present who discussed Common Core testing versus No Child Left Behind testing, the use of action phrases and math tools in the classroom, how Common Core affects special education, and the difference between conceptual, structural teaching methods and procedural methods. They also worked through sample test questions to demonstrate the shifts in thinking and application of knowledge that students will have to apply when being tested.
“The reason why the Common Core is stress-inducing is because we all care about the success of our kids,” said Santana. “Common Core isn’t a bad thing. I have faith that if we can adapt to the changes, become proficient in it and expand to other teaching methodologies, our kids will be in a better place – the long-term effects will be positive. We need to work together to focus on what’s important – our kids to be successful when they reach college and beyond.” Santana continued by pointing out that growth and improvement do not come without some sort of challenge. “It’s important that we encourage our students to feel comfortable with going to their teachers and to their parents for help, encouragement and support.”
Learning from Laramie
On Nov. 15-17, the high school drama club, under the direction of Anthony Butera, performed “The Laramie Project,” which recounts the true story of the 1998 hate-crime murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo.
“Being a part of this performance really opened my eyes,” said senior Maggie Butera. Added castmate Jessie Gray, “Laramie is a small town, much like it is here in Port Jefferson. Many people think that something of this nature doesn’t or wouldn’t happen here, but it could and that’s why we wanted to be a part of this show – to spread awareness.”
Before tryouts, Butera hosted a workshop to help prepare students for the audition process. “The students read through the script and deciphered the play’s emotions,” he said. “I wanted them to be mentally prepared for the context of this show, which is unlike what we typically perform. It was a raw performance that touched opinions that are deeply rooted in how people are raised. It challenges the viewer to be accountable for their actions and inspires them to reflect on how they are living.”
The performance of “The Laramie Project” ties in with character education programs that students throughout the district have been participating in, such as Red Ribbon Week; One Book, One School; Stop the Violence and more. Additionally, the drama club donated $1 from every ticket sold to the Matthew Sheppard Foundation.
“The show wasn’t just about homophobia, but rather, it was about how everyone is unique,” said drama club president and senior Sydney Ruggiero. “As a society, we need to accept our differences more and do what we can to prevent people from being discriminated against.”
Members of the cast and crew have received a generous amount of positive feedback from their classmates, the faculty and staff, even in the days and weeks following the performances. “The show may be over, but the message is still being passed on, and that was what we were trying to accomplish,” said Sydney.
“It goes to show that you’re never too tiny to make a difference,” added cast member Liane Russell. “We may be a small group of students, but we moved our audiences, including people we have never even met before. That says something.”
A Thanksgiving with All the Trimmings
The Port Jefferson School District has been serving up gratitude this holiday season. Students in all three schools have been working hard to assist others, make healthier choices and polish their hospitality skills to make for a picture-perfect Thanksgiving.
On Nov. 20, the middle school Student Council hosted its annual Senior Citizens’ Luncheon for members of the Port Jefferson Senior Center. Guests were served a traditional Thanksgiving meal by student representatives and were treated to musical performances by sixth-grade violinist Elizabeth Chun and the high school chamber orchestra. Attendees and students had the opportunity to converse with one another, play games and share some holiday spirit.
High school students in Dinarae Camarda’s Wellness and Fitness class gathered together for their first annual Healthy Thanksgiving Celebration. Students used a favorite recipe and substituted healthy alternatives for one or more of the ingredients. The 75 participants took a closer look at how to properly fuel their bodies and made dishes that were gluten-free, organic, vegan and Paleo Diet-friendly. To conclude the project, the class will compile their recipes and create a healthy cookbook.
Students in Kristen Poulos and Karen Stamatopoulos’s class at the elementary school hosted a Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 25 for family, teachers and staff members. Guests were offered homemade Thanksgiving-themed entrees, beverages and desserts and were given handmade Thanksgiving cards. The festive gathering gave students the chance to experience the roles of being a greeter, host and server and improve upon their hospitality skills. Guests included Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, elementary school principal Thomas Meehan and Executive Director for Pupil Personnel Services Dr. Lisa Scheffer.
Student Selected for All-County Vocal Jazz Festival
High school vocalist Jessica Gray was selected to participate in this year's All-County Jazz Festival on Feb. 8 at Sayville High School. Following the performance, these All-County students will travel to Albany to perform for state legislators as part of Music in Our Schools Month, which advocates for music education programs. The Port Jefferson School District congratulates Jessica on her outstanding musical achievement.
Elementary School Gets Moving
In an effort to further promote physical activity within their school, Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Debra Ferry and elementary school physical education instructor Francoise Schachner had students videotape their warm-up routine as part of the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s “Here’s What We Do to Get Moving” competition. The association works to support quality health and physical education programs in New York State.
The elementary students showed off their best aerobic warm-up skills while music played during an upbeat cardio and stretching segment. All entries into the competition were required to demonstrate, in a fun way, how students get moving in their physical education classes. Contestants were able to submit their entry through song, video, poster or poem. The school is in the running for the top prize of $1,000 in equipment. Participating students also received “Get Moving NY” drawstring backpacks to commemorate their contribution.
Giving Thanks for Each Other
Members of the National Junior Honor Society were among just some of the middle and high school students who came together for an impromptu afternoon of fun on Nov. 7. When a cancellation inhibited student members of Team Landetta from participating in a scheduled after-school event, friends stepped in to ensure the day would not be lost.
The high school gymnasium filled with the sights and sounds of basketball and soccer games, cheers of support and laughter of enjoyment, all making for an afternoon to remember.
“Everyone had a wonderful time,” said middle school teacher Michelle Landetta, who was present along with teaching assistants Tracy Gray and Bonnie Kelsch. “It was great to see the students join together to support each other and partake in friendly camaraderie as a community. A day that could have been less than ideal turned into something that means so much to everyone involved.”
Portraits of Thanksgiving
Elementary school students in grades K-5 had the opportunity to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Creative Celebration sponsored by the New York State Senate. This year’s theme, “What Are You Thankful For?” is depicted in their original essays, poetry and artwork, which will be included in the state’s Thanksgiving Day Showcase. Additionally, all submissions will be published online and students will receive a certificate from Sen. Kenneth LaValle acknowledging their participation.
Tennis Aces Honored at Awards Dinner
After a successful fall tennis season, the high school girls varsity tennis team received recognition from the Suffolk County Girls Tennis Coaches Association for their outstanding athletic performances. The team, along with coach Dennis Christofor, attended the Suffolk County Girls Tennis Dinner on Nov. 5 where five student-athletes were recognized.
Rachel Collins, a first singles player, placed third in the Division 3 tournament and in the top eight in the Suffolk County Girls Singles Championship.
Appreciation Across the Board
The members of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education were given special acknowledgment for their efforts, volunteerism and dedication at the November community meeting as part of the New York State School Boards Association’s School Board Recognition Week.
“The hours they put in are extensive, and the commitment and dedication they show to our students is extraordinary,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, who opened the floor to the three building principals for presentations.
Elementary school principal Thomas Meehan and art teacher Nina Wood were the first to offer their words of gratitude and presented the Board with artwork created by the fifth-grade class. “Our students have created portraits of you in the style of anime, a Japanese cartooning art form that exaggerates features,” said Wood. In addition, each board member was given a mosaic portrait created by art teacher Richard Anderson.
Next, middle school principal Antonio Santana introduced a middle school student council representative who recited an original poem that students had created in honor of the board. “Thank you for all your support; you really are the best,” read the student. “Thank you for the opportunities through the clubs, the sports and all the special events.”
High school principal Dr. Matthew Murphy introduced Student Organization members – President Kirsten Crovello, Vice President Jack Cavanagh, Representative to the PTSA Calla Kelly-Renda and Representative to the Board of Education Michael Laffey – who paid homage to the board on behalf of their peers.
“You are the engine of our ingenuity, and together we plan to make the best possible future,” said Kirsten. “We appreciate all of the effort you put into finding new ways to create an environment that is conducive to learning and in which each student can thrive. Thank you for your dedication to ensure we receive the best and most diversified educational opportunities available.”
Setting the Record Straight About Diabetes
Best friends and high school freshmen Emma Schoepflin and JiWon Woo raised awareness in their school this year in recognition of World Diabetes Day. The campaign, which is celebrated annually on Nov. 14, is led by the International Diabetes Federation and was created in 1991 in response to the growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses.
“People don’t always understand diabetes and how it affects young people,” said JiWon, who has diabetes. “People often make assumptions about what I can and cannot eat and I wanted to be a part of something that helped to educate others on the subject.”
The two students spent countless hours making gray ribbon pins, the color representing diabetes awareness, and creating fact sheets about diabetes to distribute to their peers. They also held a bake sale to benefit the American Diabetes Association.
“We learned that diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined,” said Emma. “That’s something we did not know until we did this research.”
The theme of this year’s campaign, “Diabetes: Protect Our Future,” is one that resonated with the young duo. “It’s important that people our age become more educated on the topic of diabetes to help them lead a healthier lifestyle,” said Emma. “We’ve received positive feedback from our teachers and classmates and will definitely be doing this again next year.”
Common Core Conversation PowerPoint
To view the PowerPoint presentation from the Nov. 20 Common Core Conversation: Middle School Math meeting, please click here
Facts About the CCSS
This PDF contains facts about the Common Core State Standards as well as other important education topics, including a brief history behind the initiative and a glossary of frequently used terms. For more Common Core materials and resources, please visit the Curriculum and Instruction Department page on our website.
‘Four Score’ and Advance in History Bee
The elementary school held its annual Intramural History Bee on Nov. 12. All fourth- and fifth-grade students had the opportunity to take the 50-question exam, which served as the first round of qualifying competition for the National History Bee.
“The National History Bee is an academic competition for elementary and middle school students that tests knowledge in a wide range of historical topics,” said Janelle Bellotti, a Studies Enriching Academic Learning teacher.
Students Aaron Held, Andrew Patterson, Lucas Welinder and Peggy Yin received the highest scores in the intramural bee and will advance to the next level of competition, the Online Regional Qualifying Exam, which will take place on Jan. 28. Students who score within the top 120 on the ORQE in their region will advance to the regional finals. Lucas, a fifth-grader, took third place in the bee’s national championship last year.
Students Attend Stellar Recital at Staller Center
On Nov. 10, music teacher Vanessa Salzman accompanied district orchestra students and their families to the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University to see a performance by Japanese-American violin sensation Midori. During her recital, Midori played sonatas by Mozart, Bloch, Hindemith, Fauré and Schubert. The district’s complimentary admission to the event was made possible by the ongoing collaborative efforts of Salzman and Staller Center outreach coordinator Paul Newland.
“The concert was a huge success,” said Salzman, who was one of more than 60 Port Jefferson School District members in attendance. “I was truly amazed by how many students and family members from our schools showed such genuine interest and enthusiasm for the recital. It was very special to be able to share such an enriching and unique experience outside of school with them.”
Midori made her musical debut at the age of 11 with the New York Philharmonic and has since distinguished herself as a master musician who has been performing for more than 30 years. She also works as a community engagement activist, providing musical instruction to underserved students.
Senior Athlete Shines in Newsday Article
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School senior Naji Nizam was featured in the Nov. 16 issue of Newsday. Naji, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 7, tells his tremendous story of courage, determination and love of football. To view the article, click here
Boys Cross-Country Team Dashes to the Top
On Nov. 9, the high school boys cross-country team competed in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Cross-Country State Championships, held at Queensbury High School, where junior James Burke was awarded third place in the state for Men’s 5K Class “C” with a time of 15:59.9. The team holds fifth place in this class.
Earlier in the season, the team participated in the Suffolk County State Qualifiers and won the Class "C" Suffolk County Championship. Four students placed in the top 10 during this competition.
Suffolk County State Qualifiers Top 10 Winners:
1st Place – James Burke with a time of 17:47.78
2nd Place – Justin Julich with a time of 18:17.81
8th Place – John Albinson
9th Place – Parker Schoch
Updated STAR Registration Requirements
The New York State School Tax Relief Program, STAR, is a school tax rebate program offered in New York State that aims to reduce school district property taxes on the primary residences of New York residents.
New legislation requires all homeowners receiving a Basic STAR exemption to register with the New York State Tax Department in order to receive the exemption in 2014 and subsequent years. With the state’s move to a web-based application, all homeowners will have to reapply. Letters providing the information needed to register have been mailed to each homeowner by the state tax department.
Registration started on Aug. 19, 2013 and will continue through Dec. 31, 2013.
For more information regarding registration, please visit the official government STAR webpage: http://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star13/default.htm
Rotary Honors Student of the Month
At its Nov. 5 luncheon, the Port Jefferson Rotary Club honored middle school sixth-grader Kylie Melzer as October’s Most Motivated Student of the Month. Present at the meeting were Kylie’s mother Melissa Melzer, an Earl L. Vandermeulen High School alumna, and middle school math teacher Meg Ryan. During her address to the club, Ryan expounded on the excellent scholarly and social attributes that made Kylie an outstanding candidate for nomination. Also in attendance to commend Kylie was middle school Principal and fellow Rotarian Antonio Santana.
Students Participate in Tuba Day
On Nov. 1, band students and siblings Gani Ates (fifth grade) and Sinan Ates (sixth grade) participated in the Howard Hovey Tuba Day at Smithtown High School West. During this remarkable evening, more than 200 tuba students from across Suffolk County gathered on one stage to perform alongside professional musicians, including renowned guest artist Phil Sinder.
Select Choir Helps Bring Nature Home
On Nov. 2, the elementary school select choir performed at the Village of Port Jefferson's sixth annual Go Green Festival. Led by music teachers Jessica Pastor and Lisa Scrom, the students sang as guests perused various vendor booths and workshops, all with the theme of “Bringing Nature Home.” Earl L. Vandermeulen High School studio art students in Lynne Edsall’s classes provided stunning visuals with their artwork, which was on display in the Village Center. This is the third year that Port Jefferson students have participated in the festival.