A special meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on May 31, 2016, 4:30 p.m., at the District Office, for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss a personnel matter.

Standing Room Only

After reading that there are numerous benefits to providing students with an option to stand while learning, Port Jefferson Middle School sixth-grade special education teacher Christina Carlson decided to transform her classroom with standing desks.

“I work with some students with ADHD/ADD, and sitting for long periods of time can become a struggle for them,” said Carlson. “A number of articles that I read pointed out that standing desks can help.”

To outfit her classroom, Carlson procured a $1,000 grant from the Royal Education Foundation to purchase two standing desks that can be converted into sitting desks.

Already, Carlson has seen an improvement among her students. “The desks are helping some of my students remain focused in class,” she said.

Seeing the positive benefits of the standing desks, the district is in the process of exploring the possibility of using them in general education classrooms next school year.   

Lady Liberty Trip

High school Italian and French students visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum on May 16. They learned how their ancestors entered the United States over a century ago and enjoyed breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty.

Students Volunteer to Ready Camp Grounds

Members of the high school Interact Club and middle school National Junior Honor Society teamed up to help prepare Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck for the summer.

The volunteers came together on May 15 to clean cabin screens, rake leaves, mulch and set up picnic benches at the Center Moriches camp, which provides special needs children and young adults with camping experiences.

16th Annual Scraggy Walk/Run


Wearing class T-shirts and sporting sneakers, more than 600 Edna Louise Spear Elementary School students completed a 1.1-mile course through Scraggy Hill Park during the annual Scraggy Hill Run/Walk on May 13.

The challenging course took participants across Scraggy Hill Road, down rolling hills, through a wooded trail and across the finish line, where they were met with cheers from spectators, teachers and administrators.

The annual race aims to promote physical fitness and culminates a several-week training period where students walk, run and swim in their physical education classes to get ready for the big run.

Robotics Team Honored by BOE

During its regular meeting on May 10, the Board of Education recognized the high school robotics team for designing and constructing a complex robot over a six-week period.

In a recognition ceremony, team members provided a demonstration of their robot, which was engineered to scale a wall and maneuver over obstacles in a competition setting.  

The team most recently participated in the 17th annual Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition alongside more than 2,000 students from 50 high schools. The event was held at Hofstra University.

Social Media Threat


Career Exploration

To educate fourth- and fifth-graders about a variety of career paths, the elementary school held its second annual Career Day on May 6.

During the event, organized by teachers Paige Lohmann and Kristi Krieg, 14 community volunteers spoke to the students about their professions. Careers represented included those related to education, medicine, law enforcement, science and carpentry.

Designer Genes

Freshmen and sophomores in Jonathan Maletta’s Living Environment Regents class investigated DNA replication during a lab session, using DNA models to synthesize a sequence of DNA called a gene.

“Students learned that humans possess a multitude of genes that code for the production of proteins (polypeptides), including enzymes and hormones,” said Maletta.

The lesson helped the students to better grasp concepts in gene sequencing and molecular biology.

Zoning in on Athletic Leadership

As a result of displaying outstanding leadership and character in physical education classes, three Port Jefferson Middle School eighth-graders were recognized with awards from the Suffolk Zone of the New York Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

The Port Jefferson students, Michael Brown, Farrell Johnston and Aiden Kaminska, earned their awards based upon recommendations from their physical education teachers.

“These students have proven themselves with exceptional physical performance, scholastic ability and leadership qualities,” said Edward Cinelli, interim director of physical education, health & athletics. “They are each well-deserving of this recognition.”

Don't Feed the Instruments

Third-graders recently participated in the school’s annual Instrument Petting Zoo. Watch this short video to learn more about the program.

Port Jefferson Budget Passes

Thank you to all residents who participated in the 2016-17 budget vote and trustee election. Proposition No. 1, the School District Budget, passed by a vote of 353 to 55.

In addition to voting on the budget, residents cast their ballots for two seats on the Board of Education. Ellen Boehm and Kathleen Brennan were reelected. The trustee vote was as follows:

Ellen Boehm - 347    
Kathleen Brennan - 348

Senior is Business Wise

High school senior Antonio Camoglino recently proved that he has what it takes to run a business. During spring break, he earned a first-place medal at the SkillsUSA Entrepreneurship Competition, held in Syracuse, N.Y.

Antonio won the award along with his three Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology teammates for a business plan they created for a mock restaurant, called Melted.

Antonio, who has been studying culinary arts at the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology since his junior year, plans to attend Johnson & Wales University in the fall. He intends to major in human resource management.   

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School named a Reward School

In recognition of its stellar educational program and superlative student performance, Port Jefferson’s Earl L. Vandermeulen High School has once again earned the prestigious designation of Reward School by the New York State Education Department.

“The district is extremely proud to have our high school maintain its status as a New York State Reward School,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert. “The recognition demonstrates the district’s commitment to educational excellence and our students’ commitment to high academic performance.”

NYSED presents the award annually to schools that have made the most progress or have the highest performance in the state with no significant gaps in student achievement. Earl L. Vandermeulen High School was one of only 220 schools across New York State to receive the recognition for 2016-2017.

The district’s high school has earned the designation consistently since the 2012-2013 school year.  


The middle school sixth-grade math team took home a fourth-place medal from the Suffolk County Elementary Math Tournament, held on May 2.

To earn the award, the team competed against 56 teams from across the county, answering numerous mathematic questions correctly.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to sixth-graders Hugo Onghai, Arik Sen, Jake Rohman, Kasumi Layne-Stasik and William Wu.

Math Olympiads Add Up to Winners

Two elementary school Math Olympiad teams, made up of 10 fourth- and fifth-graders, displayed their math smarts at the ninth annual Suffolk County Elementary Math Tournament on May 2 at Stony Brook University.

During the tournament, the students answered a series of difficult math questions and competed against other top scholars from across the region. For their hard work, fifth-grade team members Nick Bruckner, Alana Samara, Michael Melikyan, Teppei Fukuto and Luke Dickhuth earned a third-place trophy. Additionally, fourth-grader Michael Melikyan won a third-place trophy in the fourth-grade individual competition.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the Math Olympiads.

Historically Speaking

The history knowledge that two elementary school students have acquired has earned them a chance to compete in the National History Bee Finals in Illinois in June.

Fourth-grader Viviane Kim and fifth-grader Teppei Fukuto will compete at the national level after qualifying in the regional competition, held in Connecticut on April 19.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to both students.       

Student-Musicians Inducted

As a result of their exceptional musical talents and dedication, 18 high school student-musicians were inducted into the school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society chapter at a ceremony on April 13.

During the ninth annual event, the new inductees promised to uphold the Tri-M’s five points of distinction – scholarship, character, cooperation, leadership and service – and participated in a performance for those in attendance. Also recognized during the ceremony were senior members of the society, including Gin Albinson, Shannon Christ, Rachel Collins, Parris Garant, Danielle Goldstein, Jessie Gray, Andreya Harvey, Calla Kelley-Renda and Marianna Spentzos.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the Tri-M Music Society’s newest members Allison Abbonizio, Gin Albinson, Abigail Bossert, Anthony Buono, Xinyi Hong, Cezanne Lojeski, David Moir, Louis Martin-Deprez, Matthew Pifko, Anita Rescia, Michael Ruggiero, Brianna Scarda, Timothy Skula, Michael Smith, Dylan Valev, Ryan Worrell, Bridget Yost and Zoe Zeniou.

One Drop at a Time

Students fundraise for clean water
After reading “A Long Walk to Water’” by Linda Sue Park, seventh-graders were inspired to raise money to supply clean water to those in need.

With the assistance of their teachers, Monica Consalvo and Deirdre Filippi, the students sold MudLOVE hope bracelets through the Water for Good organization. They raised enough money to supply two years of clean water to individuals living in the Central Republic of Africa.    

In the Zone

As a result of showing outstanding leadership and character in physical education classes, two elementary school students were recognized with awards from the Suffolk Zone of the New York Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

The Port Jefferson fifth-graders, Lola Idir and Eric Friedman, earned their awards based upon recommendations from their physical education teachers.

Performers Selected to Attend Theatrical Program

Middle school drama students Saoirse Cohen and Chris Parsick have been accepted into the iTheatrics Summer Broadway Academy program in New York City. Through the program, the thespians will have the opportunity to sharpen their acting skills and also participate in a musical production. The eighth-graders were selected based on a competitive audition process.

Students Name Beth Stern’s Cat

A middle school seventh-grade social studies class won the chance to name one of Beth Stern’s foster cats by raising the most money during a student council fundraiser for Bianca’s Furry Friends. The students, who are in Philip Giannusa’s class, secured the win after raising $403 and named the cat Petey. The name was selected as a tribute to science teacher Pete Burawa, who will be retiring at the end of the school year. In total, the school raised $1,767 for the cause, which aims to create a state-of-the-art feline adoption center at North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington.       

Elementary Students Recognized by BOE

Elementary school students received recognition from the Port Jefferson School District’s Board of Education during a meeting on April 12.
Among the students presented with certificates were fifth-grader and double bassist Alexa Ayotte, who earned a Dr. Joel Ratner Memorial SCMEA music scholarship; Sophie Blumenthal, a fifth-grader who competed at the Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee at Hofstra University; and six students, Amy Whitman, Kenneth Dixon-Lanza, Teppei Fukuto, Benjamin Perez-Flesler, Viviane Kim and Michael Melikyan, who will be participating in the National History Bee finals on April 20 in Connecticut.     

Top Scores

Three middle school students, Aaron Held, Arik Sen and Peggy Yin, earned certificates for high scores they received as part of the annual Suffolk County Math Teacher’s Association Math Competition, held on March 16 at the middle school. The students respectively obtained impressive grades on the Math 7, Math 6 and Algebra 1 written tests.

The Port Jefferson School District extends it congratulations to the young mathematicians.

'‘Be True to Yourself’

The high school Gay Straight Alliance has been inspired to foster the message, ‘be true to yourself’ to their peers after enjoying a performance of the award-winning musical “Kinky Boots” at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York City on March 23.

“The show, based on a true story, highlights the importance of being true to yourself and that when you choose to be accepting, you can truly change the world,” said alliance co-advisor Dinarae Camarda. “The GSA hopes to foster and share this message within our own school and community.”

Crime Solvers

The high school’s CSI Club participated in a hands-on forensic lab technique workshop at Stony Brook University on April 19. During the field trip, the students worked to solve a mock crime while performing DNA gel electrophoresis, chromatography, fingerprinting, sediment comparison and a footprint analysis. The club is advised by Amanda Brideson and Adam Bouchard.      

Newest National Honor Society Inductees

During a ‘tapping ceremony,’ on April 12, 59 Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students learned they have been accepted into the National Honor Society and were invited to take part in a formal, candlelighting ceremony on April 21.

As part of the annual ritual, each student was ‘tapped’ on the shoulder by a current National Honor Society member and led to the multipurpose room, where they were greeted by family and friends for a celebration.

During the ceremony later this month, the new inductees will officially be inducted after they each pledge to uphold the purpose and principles of the society, including scholarship, leadership, service and character.

Musicians Perform at NYSSMA Festival

Nearly 250 Port Jefferson musicians performed at the annual New York State School Music Association Solo and Ensemble Festival, held at Smithtown High School East on April 8 and 9.

The students each performed a solo selection and scales for a NYSSMA adjudicator, who assessed their performance based on technique, precision and musicality.
The Port Jefferson School District applauds the music students for their hard work and dedication.

Cooking Up a Spanish Lesson

As part of their Spanish studies, high school students visited A La Carte Culinary School on April 7 to learn about Spanish and Latin American cooking from professional chefs. During the field trip, students were taught to prepare dishes including paella, pupusas, tortilla Espanola and arroz con leche.   

Star Students Recognized

The American Library Association’s yearlong Read Campaign has named six elementary school students Star Students.

The young readers chosen as March Star Students are Gianna DeLeo, kindergarten; Hudson Philbrick, first grade; Marco Puopolo, second grade; Sofia Freitas, third grade; Jadie Hernandez, fourth grade; and Olivia Ross, fifth grade.

As a reward for being named Star Students, the Port Jefferson scholars will have their photo displayed on the bulletin board outside the school’s library, along with a summary of their favorite book.

Fundraising for Furry Friends


The middle school Student Council recently concluded a successful fundraiser for Beth Stern’s Bianca’s Furry Friends.

Together, the students worked to raise $1,787 for the feline adoption center by hosting several fundraising activities throughout the month of March.

To raise the money, the Student Council held a naming contest for one of Stern’s Foster kittens, hosted a bake sale, sold raffle tickets for a chance to win one of 10 signed copies of “Yoda Gets a Buddy,” by Stern and organized an Amazing Race, featuring minute to win it-style activities.

U.S. News Names Port Jefferson a Top High School

Earl. L. Vandermeulen High School has been named a top high school in America in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report and earned the association’s highest ranking of Gold.   
The news organization ranked the high school based on several factors, including, but not limited to, enrollment in advanced coursework, graduation rates and student performance on tests.
Based on the evaluation, U.S. News ranked the educational institution 45th in New York State and 367th in the nation.
Of the distinction, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert said, "We are pleased to be included within this list of high performing schools. We take great pride in the educational experiences that we provide to our students and will continue our commitment to further enhance our programs and services.”

Leading the Way

High school senior Jessie Gray has earned a Principal’s Leadership Award and a $1,000 scholarship from the Suffolk County High School Principals Association.

To earn the accolade, Jessie was nominated by Principal Christine Austen, who touts the senior as an outstanding student leader.

“She doesn’t just lead from the top down – she works to build consensus and find what’s best for her fellow students,” said Austen.  

Jessie has proven her management skills not as the leader of just one student organization, but several. She is president of the Student Organization, National Honor Society, Drama Club and Interact Club, as well as secretary of the Leo Club and treasurer of the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

In each of her roles, Jessie has worked to bring pride to the Port Jefferson School District while unifying students and giving back to the community. Most recently, she helped organize a dodgeball tournament that benefited the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and began a new senior tradition this year of watching the sunrise on the first day of school and the sunset on the last day.

“Leading is something I really love to do,” said Jessie. “I take pride in our school.”

Jessie is undecided on which college she will attend in the fall, but looks forward to majoring in math and sciences.  

Art Students Visit MoMA

High school students in Carrie Morgan’s art classes recently took an educational field trip to the Museum of Modern Art. During the trip, the student-artists explored gallery works that they have been studying in class.

Careers in Law Enforcement

High school CSI Club members recently learned about the diversity of careers in law enforcement from guest speaker Robert Brideson.

During the session, Mr. Brideson, a retired NYPD sergeant, homeland security instructor and crime scene clean up technician, answered questions and spoke about his career. He also allowed students to try-out basic equipment that they would wear if they enter law enforcement, including cleanup gear.

“Students enjoyed the experience of meeting with Mr. Brideson and getting a true sense of the profession,” said Amada Brideson, who serves as a co-advisor of the club with Adam Bouchard.         

World War II History Out of the Textbooks

Middle school students in Kayleen Everitt’s classes learned in-depth details about World War II and the Holocaust when Holocaust survivor Werner Reich visited on March 18.

The students, who have been studying the genocide in their ELA class, sat in awe as Mr. Reich provided his compelling account of the Holocaust. Through his words, he offered messages of tolerance and acceptance and explained that “bad things happen when good people do nothing.”

To thank Mr. Reich, the ELA students will be hosting a bake sale fundraiser, in conjunction with the National Junior Honor Society, for the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County. All proceeds will be donated in Mr. Reich’s name.    

‘All Shook Up’

The high school presented “All Shook Up,” a musical celebration featuring the works of Elvis Presley, on March 18 and 19. The production showcased the talents of 50 Port Jefferson high school students who worked over the past several months to perfect their performances.  

Students Top at Latin Certamen

High school and middle school Latin studies students showcased their linguistic skills as they competed in the fast-paced Latin Certamen contest held on March 15 at Stony Brook University.

During the event, the participating students took home top medals in all four levels of the competition. To earn the awards, the students competed against 16 schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties by showcasing their knowledge of Latin grammar, vocabulary, translation, word derivations, Roman Life, history, mythology and literature.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the following students:

Advanced Level, first-place: Gin Albinson, Eric Kilgore, Courtney Lewis and Anita Rescia
Level One, first-place: Felicity Hyams, Carmella Moran, Kyle Onghae and Giuseppina Than
Level Two, first-place: Katie Ambrozy, Gavin Barrett, Sarah Hull and Annalisa Welinder
Level Three, second-place: Emma Gutmann, Ibuki Iwasaki, Cezanne Lojeski and Joseph Samara

Royals Welcome New Athletic Director

After an extensive search, the Port Jefferson School Board appointed Danielle Turner as the new director of Health, Physical Education, and Athletics on April 12.

Ms. Turner, who will take the helm on July 1, will replace Edward Cinelli, who has served as the interim director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics since December.

“We are excited to welcome Ms. Turner to our Royal family,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert. “We are confident that her experience and knowledge will be a great asset to our students, staff and district.”

“I am more than thrilled to join the Port Jefferson School District, and I am looking forward to July 1,” Turner said.

Turner has served in several administrative capacities. Currently, she is the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in the Miller Place School District. She previously held the same position at Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Sayville Academic Center and Premm Learning Center.

Her experience as an instructor includes teaching physical education and serving as a coach at Longwood Middle School from 2008-2012 and working in the same capacity prior to that in the Patchogue-Medford and Sachem school districts.      

Turner holds a Bachelor of Science in physical education from SUNY Cortland, a master’s degree in athletic administration and coaching from Stony Brook University, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Administration and Supervision degree from St. John’s University. She also holds certification in the areas of the Dignity for All Students Act, crisis prevention intervention and first aid, and is a certified personal trainer.

Student Earns Music Scholarship

For her dedication to music, Edna Louise Spear Elementary School double bassist Alexa Ayotte was awarded the Dr. Joel Ratner Memorial Scholarship to pursue her music studies over the summer. Ayotte, a fifth-grader, received the award at the Division 1 East SCMEA concert.

Science Olympiad Team Amasses Medals

Hard work and dedication paid off for the middle school Science Olympiad team as they took home several medals from the state Science Olympiad Competition, held on April 9 and 10 at East Syracuse Minoa High School.

The team, which ranked 17th out of 232 schools from across the state, advanced to the state competition after participating in the Suffolk County Regional Division Tournament on Feb. 27.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the Science Olympiad team and the following students, who earned medals:

Grant Samara and David Bershadsky – Bottle Rocket, second place
Sinan Ates and Josh Ecker – Anatomy, fourth place
Sinan Ates and Peggy Yin – Bio Process Lab, fourth place
Grant Samara and Andrew Patterson –Fossils, fourth place
Aaron Held and Peggy Yin – Microbe Mission, sixth place  
David Rotunno and Reid Biondo –Meteorology, eighth place  
Aaron Held and Peggy Yin – Crave the Wave, ninth place  

Port Jeff Musicians Bound for All-County Festival

More than 40 Port Jefferson student-musicians performed in the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association All-County Music Festival at Ward Melville High School on March 13.

The students were selected to participate based on teacher recommendations and their New York State School Music Association solo evaluation scores.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the following student performers:

Grades 5-6
Alexa Ayotte, Giancarlo Caltagirone, Brady DeWitt, Lucy DeWitt, Luke Dickhuth, Kenny Dixon-Lanza, Justin Garcia, Jack Hennessy, David Lawler, Annie Maier, Hugo Onghai, Andrew Patterson, Stefano Rabeno, Anna Rebic, Kiera Reale, Peter Rizzo, Isabelle Roberts, Logan Schaffer, Olivia Schlegel, Caelan Schretzmayer, Tabitha Schully, Michael Tessler, Brennyn Veit and Sophia Wennero

Grades 7-8
Sinan Ates, Massimo Cipriano, Saiorse Cohen, Samuel Florio, Felicity Hyams, Jack Reilly, Grant Samara and Peggy Yin

Grades 9-10
Cole Fortier, Ju Eun Ha, Miles Kaming-Thanassi, Cezanne Lojeski, Trey Pisano, David Rotunno, Michael Ruggiero, Ava Schully and Michael Smith

No. 1 School for Homebuyers

Port Jefferson Middle School has been ranked as the No. 1 middle school in Suffolk County by Cruvita.com, a website that assists homebuyers by providing statistical information regarding schools across the country.
The school received its top ranking based on data compiled by Cruvita.  Under the ranking system, the middle school was awarded a silver Cruvita Medal of Excellence. Edna Louise Spear Elementary School also received accolades and ranks among the top 40 elementary schools across the county.  
“We are very proud of the education we offer at each of our buildings,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert. “This ranking is a direct result of the dedication of our students, staff and community.”

Science Olympiad Team to Take on State Competition

The middle school Science Olympiad Team will be competing at the New York State competition held at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School from April 8-9.

The team secured its bid to advance after competing at the Suffolk County Regional Division B Tournament, held at Candlewood Middle School on Feb. 27.

During the regional event, the Port Jefferson scholars took home seven medals in events that tested their skills in earth science, biology, chemistry, physics and engineering.

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the Science Olympiad Team and the following medal winners:

• Gil Zaltsman and Grant Samara ¬– Second Place, Disease Detectives
• Jill Lawler and David Rotunno – Second Place, Write It Do It
• Peggy Yin and Aaron Held – Third Place, Optics
• Andrew Patterson – Third Place, Fossils
• Sarah Hull and Ju Eun Ha – Fourth Place, Crime Busters
• Grant Samara and Peggy Yin – Fourth Place, Fossils
• Andrew Patterson – Sixth Place, Green Generation

Students Break It Down Jazz-Style

Student-musicians in the elementary school’s fifth-grade band learned several new jazz techniques during an improvisational workshop on March 14.

During the program, professional musicians Tom Manuel (trumpet) and Ed Balsamo (drums) taught the students how to express themselves through music and create their own sounds.  

Violin Performance

High school violinist Annalisa Welinder kicked off the Stony Brook University men’s basketball America East Championship opening game on March 12 by performing a classical rendition of the national anthem.

Talent Show Benefits Friends of Karen

For the 11th year in a row, middle school students showcased their talents to raise money for the Port Jefferson-based charity, Friends of Karen. The students raised $1,020 for the organization, which assists families who have a child with a life-threating illness.

This year’s winter talent show featured a number of acts, including gymnastics, comedy, piano and ukulele playing.

A ‘Purrrrfect’ Author Visit

Elementary school kindergartners in Allison Coppi’s class had the chance to learn about the work of a published author when Beth Stern visited their classroom on March 14.

During the event, Ms. Stern read her new book, “Yoda Gets a Buddy,” and, as an extra-special surprise, presented each student with a stuffed cat resembling the main character in her book.

The students also had the opportunity to ask Ms. Stern questions and learn about animal adoption and proper pet care.   

Monday, May 30, 2016