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, 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.  

Port Jeff Educators Earn SCOPE Awards

Four Port Jefferson School District educational professionals were recognized by SCOPE Education Services as premier leaders in their fields and presented with 2016 SCOPE Awards of Excellence.

The awardees were among a group of 123 educators, support staff and volunteers throughout Suffolk County who were honored at SCOPE’s Educational Excellence Awards ceremony, held at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook on March 14.

The district extends its congratulations to Peter Burara, who was recognized with a Service to Teaching award; Jason Carella, who received a Support Staff award; Sean Leister, who was honored with an Administrative Service award; and Naomi Solo, who earned a Community Service award.   

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.   



Port Jeff Named Best Community for Music Education

The Port Jefferson School District is pleased to announce that for the 10th consecutive year it has been ranked among the NAMM Foundation’s “Best Communities for Music Education” in America, an honor that acknowledges schools and districts across the U.S. for their commitment to and support for music education as part of the core curriculum.  

The 2016 award specifically recognizes the collaborate efforts between teachers, administrators, students, parents and the community, who work in tandem to keep comprehensive music education an integral part of the core curriculum in Port Jefferson.

“To receive this award – one that is shared by our entire community – signifies Port Jefferson’s strong commitment to the support of the arts and our students’ musical development. We are truly fortunate,” said Michael Caravello, director of music and fine arts.

The Port Jefferson School District boasts multiple vocal, band and orchestral performing groups for students and each group is provided with the opportunity to perform within the community. Additionally, through partnerships and relationships with Stony Brook University and the Staller Center many groups regularly have the chance to learn from renowned professional musicians.

Information Regarding the NYS 3-8 Testing Program

Please read the attached letter from the Superintendent of Schools Regarding


Tuesday, May 03, 2016