Musicians Named to All-County Festival

Four seniors were selected to participate in the New York State Council of Administrators for Music Education All-County Music Festival based on their high New York State School Music Association scores and teacher recommendations.

The students – Parris Garant, Danielle Goldstein, Dunia Karzai and Alden Mohacsi – performed at Connetquot and Half Hollow Hills high schools on Nov. 12, 20 and 21.

Congratulations to each of these students on their outstanding musical achievement.

Council Members Show Goodwill

Members of the middle school student council have been very busy showing goodwill toward others this Thanksgiving season.

Over the past month, the students, under the direction of adviser Allison Giannusa, worked to collect as much food as possible as part of an annual food drive.

The students collected 1,471 items and $100, which were donated to the Ministries to dispense to those in need.

In addition to the food drive, the student council held a Thanksgiving lunch for senior citizens from the Port Jefferson Senior Center on Nov. 19.

During the event, students served lunch, which they ordered from Zans and desserts brought in from home.  As they ate their lunch, the seniors were entertained with performances by a number of student groups, including band and orchestra musicians, as well as actors from the school’s fall play, “You Can’t Take It with You.”

Students Honor Board of Education

In acknowledgment of School Board Recognition Week, students and administrators paid tribute to the seven board members, who volunteer to serve the district, on Nov. 18.

During the board meeting, elementary school students, with the help of Principal Thomas Meehan, delivered thanks through a video news report, called Scraggy News.  In their broadcast, the students explained what the Board of Education does and said they are lucky to have community members who work as a team for their benefit.

Middle school students also expressed gratitude, but instead of using words, the students performed a musical selection for the school board.  The quartet played a piece from the opera, “Carmen.”

High school students then stood to present each school board member with a photo montage of the district’s schools.

Also recognizing the board for their hard work was Brian Snow, president of the Port Jefferson Teachers Association. “The teachers respect and appreciate all that you do,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the board, James Laffey, vice president, thanked all of the students, as well as the administration. “We are all part of a collective group that just want our kids to be successful,” he said. “Thank you for your recognition.”  

Students Volunteer to Ready Camp Grounds

More than 40 members of the high school Interact Club and middle school National Junior Honor Society teamed up with the Port Jefferson Rotary Club to help ready Camp Paquatuck for the winter.

The volunteers came together on Nov. 9 to rake and bag thousands of leaves and store picnic benches at the Center Moriches camp, which provides special needs children and young adults with camping experiences.

The volunteers plan to return in the spring to mulch flower beds, ready cabins and apply fresh paint to the dorm rooms and outer buildings.  

Food Drive Brings Thanksgiving to Those in Need

Elementary school students have been working to collect and organize food for donation to nine Port Jefferson families in need this Thanksgiving.

The food drive, in its 13th year, is organized by school counselor Jessica Peterson, and aims to bring students, teachers and administrators together to make a difference for local families.

Aside from collecting non-perishable food items from students and turkeys from teachers and administrators, the drive also collects toiletries and cleaning supplies.  

Creatively Showing Gratitude

For the second year in a row, elementary school students participated in Sen. Kenneth LaValle’s annual Thanksgiving Day Creative Celebration.

Guided by the theme of “What are you thankful for?” students used their imaginations to draw photos and write poems and essays on the subject.

All of the students’ submissions will be included in the senator’s Thanksgiving showcase and on his website.

Tuba Players Unite

Two middle school tuba players had the opportunity to perform at the 34th annual Howard Hovey Tuba Day at Nesaquake Middle School in Smithtown on Nov. 14.

During the event, siblings Gani Ates and Sinan Ates performed alongside 200 tuba students from across Suffolk County on one stage. Also performing with the student-musicians were professional musicians, including renowned guest artist Dr. Aaron Tindall from Ithaca College.

Students Raise Awareness for Juvenile Diabetes

In an effort to raise awareness about juvenile diabetes, 10th-graders Jiwon Woo and Emma Schoepflin held a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association on Nov. 14. Both girls said they felt that not many of their peers understood what juvenile diabetes is, and they wanted to change that.

“I wouldn’t have known what it was either,” said Emma. “The only reason I know is because of Jiwon.” Jiwon, Emma said, has had juvenile diabetes since she was 6 years old.

To raise awareness, the two sold gray juvenile diabetes awareness ribbons to teachers and students, held a bake sale and decorated the school with the color blue. Through their campaign, they raised $400.

The girls plan to continue their mission, growing their fundraiser over the next few years.

The Best That They Can ‘Bee’

Five students at Edna Louise Spear Elementary have advanced past the first round of the National History Bee competition, held on Nov. 12.

“The History Bee is an academic competition for students that tests knowledge in a wide range of historical topics,” said Janelle Bellotti, a Studies Enriching Academic Learning teacher for the district.

The fourth- and fifth grade students, who qualified based on the results of a 50-question multiple-choice test, now have the opportunity to take an online regional qualifying exam on Jan. 9. If they score within the top 120, they will advance to the regional finals, which will be held in April.

Congratulations to Alex Carlson, Peter Murphy, Andrew Patterson, Haruki Takeuchi and Sophia Viens.

Musicians Participate in Masterclass

Middle and high school string musicians had the opportunity to attend a string bass workshop and master class on Nov. 13.

During the class, bassist Zachary Hobin, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and Stony Brook University, shared with students practice tips and discussed a variety of careers available to those who have a passion for music.

Encouraging Young Musicians

With their instruments in hand, high school band and orchestra students, as well as chorus singers, encouraged elementary students to participate in music during a presentation at the Port Jefferson Village Center’s Aftercare Program.

During the presentation, the high school students played their instruments and sang for the elementary students. They also spoke candidly about their own musical experiences since elementary school.

Musicians and Artists Star at Go Green Festival

Elementary select choir singers and high school studio art students showed off their talents at the Port Jefferson Go Green Festival, held at the Village Center on Nov. 1.

During the festival, the choir performed several musical selections under the direction of music teachers Jessica Pastor and Lisa Scrom, and high school students in Lynne Edsall’s Studio in Art class displayed some of their works.

Students Feeding Students

Despite the chill in the air, 16 Leo Club members stood in front of Stop and Shop in Miller Place on Nov. 2, collecting canned goods for Island Harvest’s Students Feeding Students challenge.

Throughout the day, the students collected 35 boxes of food and $200. They hope it is enough to retain their title of Suffolk County collection champions.

Last fall, the Leo Club, under the direction of advisers Brian Chalmers and Kristine Vaccaro, collected a few hundred pounds of food, placing them in first place and earning a trophy and visit from a former New York Jets player, who signed autographs.  Ms. Vaccaro was also invited to appear on Katie Couric’s talk show.

Runners Place in Disney Cross Country Classic

Cross-country runners achieved great feats at the Disney Cross Country Classic presented by New Balance at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Oct. 10.

Senior cross-country standout James Burke placed second overall in the varsity boys Peter Pan Division race, which featured 178 national runners. Burke, who was the first Royal to win the championship in 2013, finished with time of 16:00.65.

Teammate Justin Julich finished sixth with a time of 17:12.94, and Parker Schoch finished 18th with a time of 18:17.32. Also competing were Matthew Keresztes, Jefferson Koutsantanou, Alden Mohacsi and Michael Spyrou, all of whom helped the Royals place third overall in the team results in the Peter Pan Division.

The district would like extend its congratulations to the 2014 boys varsity cross-country team.

Officer George Sends Anti-Bullying Message

In an effort to prevent verbal and physical bullying, as well as cyberbullying, the elementary school invited George Lynagh, an officer for 25 years with the Suffolk County Police Department, to talk with students on Oct. 22.

Officer George, as the students called him, brought his message to life as he spoke with kindergartners and first-graders about emergencies and strangers, third- and fourth-graders about nonverbal and verbal bullying, and fifth-graders about cyberbullying.

“Every single kid was focused on Officer George and what he had to say,” said school psychologist Allyson Carlson. “We plan to bring him back again next year.”

Parents were invited for a separate evening presentation in which Officer Lynagh, who works with the SCPD’s Community Outreach Bureau, instructed them on how to deal with and properly report cyberbullying.

Athletic Fun for Team Landetta

Members of Team Landetta, who are Athletes for All participants, recently took part in some athletic fun with the help of middle school and high school athletes.

On a recent rainy afternoon, both the boys and girls high school cross-country teams led Team Landetta in warm-ups and a run through the school.  

“The students beamed with excitement and pride,” said teacher Michelle Landetta, who explained that aside from participating in athletics within the school district, Team Landetta also travels to other school districts to play various sports.

Volleyball Players Spike for Breast Cancer Research

Knowing that breast cancer is a disease that hits home for many of their peers, senior varsity volleyball players Emily Rubenbauer and Ally Dombroski decided to do something that would make a difference — raise money for breast cancer research.

The friends began working on their project at the start of the school year, and on Oct. 22, they held a successful volleyball tournament fundraiser that brought out students, teachers and administrators, all dressed in pink.

A total of 10 student teams and two administrator/teacher teams participated in the tournament, which required a $5 donation from every player. Each team had the opportunity to play two games, with three teams advancing to a final playoff round. In the end, a team made up of junior boys won.

The tournament, said the girls, raised more than $1,000, which is being donated to the SideOut Foundation, an organization that supports Stage 4 breast cancer research. Also being donated to the SideOut Foundation are funds raised through Dig Pink, a separate fundraiser in which the entire girls varsity volleyball team participated.

Emily and Ally said they now have their sights set on hosting another fundraiser in the spring, possibly a dodgeball tournament.  

Love Yourself Message Sent During Red Ribbon Week

Throughout the week of Oct. 27, middle school students took part in the Red Ribbon Week campaign, exploring the negative effects of drugs and alcohol and learning about making good decisions.

With the theme of “Love Yourself,” students were asked to create posters and anti-drug advertisements, which were hung around the school. They also heard from speakers such as Suffolk County Police Officer George Lynagh, who spoke to students about the negative effects of alcohol on the brain, body and nervous system and how to avoid peer pressure.

The student council, under the direction of advisor Allison Giannusa, created pledge signs that all middle school students hung on their lockers, and on Oct. 30, students wore red to school for awareness.   

Students Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

In an effort to help provide basic necessities such as fresh water, food and vaccinations to people in third-world countries, the middle school student council held a trick-or-treat fundraiser for UNICEF.

After learning at a council meeting that a single dollar can go a long way in providing a child in need with a 40-day supply of safe drinking water, council members got to work creating a fundraising campaign.

The students designed posters and trick-or-treated for donations from their peers during their lunch periods. Between Oct. 20 and Oct. 31, they raised $100 for the cause.

Students Walk for Beauty, Donate $1,000

Members of the high school Student Organization, Leo and Interact clubs, along with their advisors and family members, participated in the 21st annual Walk for Beauty color splash and 4K in Stony Brook Village on Oct. 26.

The students were splashed with colored powder as they walked the 4K, which started at 9:30 a.m. Prior to the walk, club members led a dance warm-up.

Sophomores Emma Schoepflin and JiWon Woo were chosen to serve as Walk for Beauty Ambassadors, meeting with the Ward Melville Heritage Organization to help run and communicate information about the event.

Altogether, the students donated close to $1,000 to the walk, which raises money for breast cancer research.

The students plan to continue the tradition of participating in the Walk for Beauty event for years to come.

Students Perform with World-Renowned Pianist

Three student-musicians had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform with world-renowned classical pianist Lang Lang at the Tilles Center on Oct. 26 as part of the Lang Lang Foundation’s 101 Pianists program.   

Senior Ryan Burke, eighth-grader Francine Leung and sixth-grader Noah Teaney were selected along with 97 other gifted piano students from across New York State after a rigorous audition process.

Based on her audition, Francine was one of three students awarded honorable mention for her high scores on her audition, and was invited to perform a solo at Lang Lang’s concert pre-show.

Heading to States

Several athletes will be heading to state championships. Among them are the girls varsity soccer team, which defeated Nassau’s Wheatley High School to claim the Class B Long Island and regional championships.  The girls will move on to play the Aquinas Institute on Nov. 15 at Cortland HS in the quarterfinal state championship game.

Also qualifying for a state championship is Rita Chen, who participates in the Independent Swimming program.  Rita finished second in the 100-yard freestyle with a state qualifying time of 53.70. She will swim in the state championship meet on Nov. 21 at Ithaca College.

Royal Fall Sports Accomplishments

Varsity boys cross-country athletes James Burke Parker Schoch and Justin Julich competed in the NYS Championship race on Nov. 8 and 9. James finished sixth in the Class C championship.

• The varsity boys golf team had six players play in the league tournament, with Kris Cheslock, Shane DeVincenzo and Josh Gelfond qualifying for the county tournament that will be held in the spring.  

• The varsity girls volleyball team played in the Suffolk County Semifinals on Oct. 31 and lost a tight match to Babylon. It was the first time in four years that this team entered postseason play.

• Varsity Girls Tennis team athlete Rachel Collins placed third in Division III and was a Top 16 Singles player in Suffolk County.

• Varsity Girls Cross Country team athlete Aileen Schretzmayer (8th grade) ran
 in the Counties on Oct. 31 and missed qualifying for the state meet by two places.  Aileen was a top ten finisher.

Students Raise Awareness with Flower Pens

In recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, fourth- and fifth-grade students made flower power pens that will be donated to local breast cancer support centers. The project was put together by special education teachers Kristen Poulos and Deanna Lilimpakis.

“Breast cancer has touched both of our lives,” Ms. Poulos said of herself and Lilimpakis. “We wanted to do something to bring a smile to people who are going through treatment and also bring awareness to the student body.”

All of the pens were made after school on Oct. 21, with students volunteering their time to participate in the project. Last year, the students made Rainbow Loom bracelets to raise awareness for the same cause.

Grant for Green Roof Approved

The high school will soon be home to a new green roof, complete with vegetation, thanks to a grant that was awarded to the school district by the New York State Water Quality Improvement Program.

According to plant facilities administrator Fred Koelbel, the $206,250 grant will allow the district to construct the new 3,400-square-foot green roof atop an existing flat roof that sits over the boys’ locker room.

Not only will the new green roof be aesthetically, but it is also environmentally friendly and includes an educational component.  

Environmentally, the green roof will be designed to use rainfall to water the vegetation that will be planted, preventing storm water runoff that normally flows into the Port Jefferson Harbor.

The project, which will require minimal maintenance once complete, will also allow for an Environmental Club monitoring project. The Environmental Club will be measuring the amount of rainfall absorbed by the foliage, as well as monitoring the temperatures of the classrooms that surround the roof, since the new green roof should keep those classrooms warmer in the winter and cooler in the spring and summer.

Mr. Koelbel said he hopes this project will a serve as an example of the green technology that is now available to reduce polluted runoff, improve water quality and restore the habitat of New York’s waterways.

Learning About the Law

High school students in Philip Giannusa’s Experiencing the Law elective class were recently educated on various facets of the law from Suffolk County police officers Mike O’Neill and William Gibaldi.

Officers O’Neill and Gibaldi spoke to the class on Oct. 16 about New York State Penal Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, and Criminal Procedure Law. They also spoke about experiences on the job, views on current events, training on environmental hazards, school violence, weapons use and force, and the future of law enforcement.

Mr. Giannusa said the opportunity gave students real-life perspective on what it takes to be a police officer in Suffolk County. “Students learned a great deal,” he said. “They learned that they must think before acting, especially in our society where cameras are everywhere and your actions can easily be caught on tape. Most importantly, the officers stressed not to text and drive, as it leads to many accidents.”

Student Council Raises Money for Wounded Warriors

In an effort to give back to the community, the middle school student council has been busy raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Advisor Allison Giannusa said the students spent the week of Oct. 14 raising money during their lunch periods. To date, they have raised $105 for the organization.  

The students got the idea to help Wounded Warrior from the Royals football team, which has been sponsoring the WWP for the past year.

“There are so many good causes out there, but I felt Wounded Warrior is one that is often overlooked,” said Coach Andrew Cosci, who said the idea to help the WWP came to him after he saw Syosset High School doing a similar project for the organization.

Musicians Perform at Danfords

With the sounds of their strings, four middle school musicians entertained attendees at the New York School Bus Contractors Association’s 60th annual convention, held on Oct. 17 at Danfords Hotel and Marina.

Student-musicians Hyun jin Lee, Mayu Takeuchi, Annalisa Welinder and Lucas Welinder, who call themselves “The Sound Strings,” performed a number of classical selections during the evening.

Friday, November 28, 2014