Student-Athletes Volunteer at Miracle League

For the fourth year in a row, high school baseball and volleyball players offered their time and friendship to the athletes of the Miracle League of Long Island, which provides special needs children with an opportunity to play structured baseball games.

For one such game on Sept. 6, 21 high school students traveled to the Miracle League with coaches Dinarae Camarda, Amanda DiPietro and Jesse Rosen to serve as buddies to the Miracle League athletes.  

“The event was extremely positive for all parties involved,” said Debra Ferry, the district’s athletic director. “It increased self-confidence, self-esteem and life satisfaction for our students and faculty.”

Ms. Ferry said her team players will continue to be involved in the Miracle League, remarking, “It is an extraordinary program.”



A work session/special meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on September 23, 2014, 7:00 p.m., at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, for a presentation on the New York State Assessments 3-8, and for any other business as may be needed.  Call to order will be at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss personnel and pending litigation.

Meet Student Representative Paul Capobianco

Each month, when the Board of Education sits down to discuss and vote on important matters, they are joined by student representative Paul Capobianco.

Paul, a senior, was elected by his peers as a student board representative to serve as a liaison between students and the board. It is a position he is taking very seriously.

“I want to accurately communicate to the board what the student body is thinking,” said Paul, who is responsible for providing a student report to board members at the monthly BOE meetings. In addition, he reports back to his peers what issues are being discussed at the meetings.

“I have the utmost confidence in Paul,” said high school Principal Dr. Matthew Murphy.

Aside from serving as a student board member, Paul plays varsity soccer and tennis, is president of the Leo Club and is a member of the student organization.

Senior Named National Merit Semifinalist

The district is pleased to announce that high school senior Natalia Zaliznyack has been named a 2015 National Merit Semifinalist.

Natalia is among the 16,000 students included on the 60th annual National Merit Scholarship Program’s list, which was released Sept. 10. Qualifying because of her high PSAT score, Natalia now has the opportunity to compete for one of 7,600 National Merit scholarships, which will be offered in the spring of 2015.

“I am honored and excited,” said Natalia, who is active in the school’s Science Olympiad, Academic and Mathlete teams, as well as the Latin Club. She also participated in the Simons Summer Research Fellowship at Stony Brook University over the summer and hopes to study biochemistry in college.

AP Scholars Make the Grade

A number of students have earned AP Scholar Awards in recognition of their exceptional achievement on AP exams that they took last May.

In total, 26 students were named AP Scholars, 20 earned the title of AP Scholar with Distinction, 11 were named AP Scholars with Honor, seven were ranked as National AP Scholars and one student was recognized with an AP International Diploma.

To earn Scholar recognition, students are required to score a 3 or higher on three or more AP exams; to be recognized as a Scholar with Honor, students must earn a 3.25 on all AP exams taken; for a Scholar with Distinction award, students must receive an average score of 3.5 on all AP exams; and to be named a National AP Scholar, students must earn an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken. Students who receive an AP International Diploma must score a 3 or higher on five or more AP exams in three or more subject areas.   

The district has been running its AP program for numerous years as a way of providing students with college-level rigor in a high school setting.

The district’s AP program, which caters to about 150 students and proctors 300 AP exams each year, offers students the ability to not only earn college credits, but to also demonstrate to colleges that they are willing to go beyond minimum high school requirements by choosing to take on a more rigorous AP course load.

Port Jefferson currently provides 17 AP courses, including popular AP classes such as AP Bio, AP Calculus and AP World.  The district also started offering AP Physics this school year.

AP Scholars
Aaron Accardo*, Cihad Akkaya*, John Albinson*, Megan Augsbach*, Justin Bove*, Morgan Campbell, Katherine Colantuoni*, Kristen Crovello*, Janella Damaskos, Allegra Fils-Aime, Andie Fortier, Christopher Graci*, Evan Kelly*, Eric Kilgore, Maureen Laffey, Evan Lahey*, Gabriella Martinez*, Kayley Okst, Thomas Pon, Robert Righi, Jasper Rubin-Sigler*, Daniel Scarda, Ryan Scott, Maria Simmerling*, Joshua Skula* and Shannon Walsh*

AP Scholars with Distinction
Caroline Biondo, Ryan Burke, Gaspar Cello, Noah Davis, Richard Finkelstein*, Danielle Grier*, Daniel Gross*, Katherine Gwydir*, Ju Mi Ha, Julia Kharzeev, Leah Neiman*, Romain Popescu*, Hunter Reiter*, Chiara Repetti-Ludlow*, Alberto Rescia*, Steven Rose*, Elijah Sanders*, Lara Sarubbi, Kent Ueno* and Natalia Zaliznyak  

AP Scholars with Honor
Paul Capobianco, Rachel Collins, Joseph Dichiara*, Dunia Karzai, Eric Keresztes*, Alexander Koller, Margo Martin-Deprez, Kyle Schrager*, Caroline Strauss and Andrew White*

National AP Scholars
Noah Davis, Danielle Grier*, Leah Neiman*, Romain Popescu, Alberto Rescia*, Kent Ueno* and Natalia Zaliznyak                      

AP International Diploma
Steven Rose*

*Students who graduated in 2014

Pertussis - Whooping Cough Letter

Please read the attached letter regarding Pertussis in the Port Jefferson School District.


Students Perform at 9/11 Ceremony

The elementary school’s select choir, led by Jessica Pastor, performed at the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s Sept. 11 ceremony, held at the firehouse.

During the somber and unifying ceremony, students Emily Hearney, Kasumi Layne-Stasik, Annie Maier, Caelan Schretzmayer and Kate Sommerstad sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the USA.”

Also in attendance were Sen. Kenneth LaValle and members of the district’s administration and Board of Education.

Students Craft Hero Quilt

In honor of the heroes of Sept. 11, second-grade students at the elementary school crafted a paper hero quilt that will be displayed in the school’s main hallway.

As part of the project, students were instructed to design a patch with illustrations and descriptions of a hero in their life. Selections included moms, dads, uncles and grandfathers who served during wartime.

“I picked my Papae because he was in the war,” said Mia Cormier, a student in Laura Kelly’s class.

Matthew Miele, also a student in Ms. Kelly’s class, said he selected both of his parents as his heroes because “they always help me with stuff.”

The day of remembrance included all students participating in a discussion about what a hero is.

Newsweek Names Port Jefferson a Top High School

Earl. L. Vandermeulen High School has been named a top high school in America in 2014 by Newsweek.  The full article can be found at:
The news magazine ranked the high school based on several factors, including enrollment and graduation rates, AP, SAT and ACT scores, and the change in student enrollment from 9th to 12th grade, as well as other factors.
Based on the evaluation, Newsweek ranked the high school 2nd in Suffolk County, 27th in New York State and 271st 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.   It does not, however,  change our passion, desire and commitment to continued growth and achievement of excellence."

Update on the status of NYS Individual Student Reports



Students Ready to Learn


With books in hand, elementary, middle and high school students arrived for the first day of school on Sept. 2 ready to learn.

Teachers and administrators welcomed all middle and high school students back to school as they arrived around 7:15 a.m. and headed off to their classrooms, but not before taking notice of a few changes.

Over the summer, the district installed new curbing and speed bumps in the parking lot, replaced the auditorium’s carpet, built a new basketball court and replaced a few ceilings. That work was done with the help of a grant from Sen. Kenneth LaValle.

“It is nice to see all the kids back,” said middle school Principal Antonio Santana, who assisted a few students with opening their lockers. “Everyone is smiling and we are ready for another wonderful school year.”

At the high school, Principal Dr. Matthew Murphy said everyone is prepared for the new school year and the students are already learning.

About two hours later, elementary school teachers and administrators gathered outside to welcome students with balloons and big smiles. Students were eager to meet their teachers and excited to see their friends.

“We are very happy to welcome back our students and are ready for a very productive year,” Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert said.  


Best Practices Theme of Superintendent’s Conference Day

District administrators, staff and teachers gathered on Aug. 27 and 28 for the district’s annual Superintendent’s Conference Day in preparation for the 2014-2015 school year. This year’s conference theme was based on best practices.

Delivering the opening address was Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, who welcomed the staff back to school and noted the hard work done to ready the district’s schools for the new year.

“The faculty and staff have all worked hard over the summer to make the schools something we can be proud of,” said Dr. Bossert, who also urged teachers to make every moment count as a teaching moment.

Board of Education President Kathleen Brennan and Vice President James Laffey provided words of encouragement and spoke of the importance of the work everyone in the district does for the students.

“Always remember that our students are our most precious commodity,” Mrs. Brennan said.

“Thank you for taking care of our children,” Mr. Laffey added.

Brian Snow, president of the Port Jefferson Teachers Association, also offered thoughts on best practices for being passionate about having an impact on students’ lives.

Presenting grants for the 2014-15 school year was Peter Capobianco, a member of the Royal Educational Foundation of Port Jefferson. Those awarded were: Jonathan Maletta, Trout Conservation Program; Amy McClelland, The Buddy Bench; Megan Roth-Ueno, Forces & Motion with Technology; Gina Santini, Suffolk County Archeological Association Native Life Workshop; and Stacia Schoen, Food for Thought.  

The district also welcomed new staff members, including Felicia Demsen, office staff member; Camille Doherty, leave replacement for high school math; Merrill Dona, office staff; Cathy Hoffman, office staff member for the physical education and athletics office; Megan Lavin, part-time high school English teacher; Jennifer Rodgers, leave replacement for high school guidance; and Thomas Tomaszewski, part-time physics teacher.

In addition, the district recognized staff members who have served for more than 25 years. Among those recognized were Kevin Burr, grounds department; Rich Lautato, grounds department; and Joan Tucci, elementary school nurse.

Giving this year’s keynote address was middle school Principal Antonio Santana, who shared some of what he had learned during a workshop he had attended at Harvard University, including how technology relates to education, how students learn, and globalization.

Faculty and paraprofessionals then dispersed to report to their respective buildings for meetings and sessions.

Port Jefferson School named best in Suffolk County

The Daily Beast, an online news magazine, has recognized Port Jefferson’s Earl L. Vandermeulen High School as a 2014 top high school in America.
The high school earned the distinction on Aug. 27 after it was evaluated along with 700 other top performing high schools across the country.  According to U.S. Department of Education statistics; there are over 36,000 high schools across the United States.   Schools were ranked using six key indicators, including ACT/SAT scores, graduation and college attendance rates, rigor and the school’s free/reduced lunch program.
Based on the six components, the Daily Beast ranked the high school 127th in the nation, 18th in New York State and first in Suffolk County.
It is noted that Earl L. Vandermeulen High School has a graduation rate of 98 percent with 97.80 percent of those students going onto college.  The report also stated that the high school has an AP Exam pass rate of 73.90 percent with 40.10 percent of high school students enrolled in AP courses.
“The district is proud to be ranked among the best high schools in America, and will continue to aspire to even greater heights.” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert.

Release of NYS Common Core Assessment Scores for Grades 3-8

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has released the assessment scores for grades 3-8 for ELA and mathematics. These assessments were administered in April and May of 2014. The NYSED memo summarizing the results can be found at:

The 8th grade math results do not include 8th graders who were enrolled in Algebra. Those students were administered both the Integrated Algebra Regents exam and the Common Core Algebra Regents exam instead of the grade 8 math assessment. 100% of 8th graders enrolled in Algebra passed both Regents exams.

To view the results for Port Jefferson, click here. The results of the 3-8 Common Core Assessments will be presented at the Board of Education workshop, on September 23, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.

Individual Student Reports (ISRs) will be sent home to parents directly from Eastern Suffolk BOCES. The date of the mailing has not yet been released. After you receive your child's scores, please contact your child's Guidance Counselor or Principal, or Mrs. Hull, Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction (tel:631-791-4291) if you have any questions.

Welcome Back BBQ

Incoming sixth-graders mingled with friends and teachers while enjoying burgers and hot dogs at the district’s welcome-back-to-school barbecue on August 21 at the high school. The annual event, said Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert, gives students a wonderful introduction to the Port Jefferson School District family.

Middle School Principal Antonio Santana presented each of the 100 students with a Hawaiian lei as they arrived. Dinner was prepared by parent volunteers.

“The barbecue provides students with an opportunity to not only get socially acclimated, but also meet some of their new teachers and find their lockers,” said Mr. Santana.

Finding their new lockers was a highlight for many at the barbecue.

“I’m looking forward to getting my locker,” said Brooke Zamek. Fellow incoming sixth-grader Sarah Mushe agreed, adding that she is looking forward to the freedom middle school offers. “We won’t have to walk in lines anymore and we get to change classes,” she said.

Of the barbecue, student Ameen Khan said, “It’s really nice to see all my friends after a long time.”
Friday, September 19, 2014